Wrong teen arrested, jailed 35 days in case against classmate with same name

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A teenager charged as an adult with a sexual battery he didn’t commit finally realized when he was shown charging documents in court, weeks later, that he had been mistaken for another student at his Florida high school with his same first and last name.

Cody Lee Williams told his mother, and she contacted the arresting officer, who investigated and confirmed the mistake, the Florida Times-Union reports. But meanwhile, Williams had spent 35 days in jail, and he is now pondering a potential lawsuit.

The Clay County Sheriff has disciplined four officers, including supervisors, involved in the case, saying that the mistake would not have occurred if proper procedures were followed.

The girl who told police that she had sex as a preteen with an older boy named Cody Williams knew that he wasn’t the only Cody Williams at Clay High School. But she didn’t think to tell the sheriff’s office during the investigation, and the lead detective didn’t follow his usual procedure of showing the accuser a photo of the suspect. When that finally happened, after Cody Lee Williams had been jailed, the girl confirmed that Cody Raymond Williams was the correct suspect, the newspaper reports.

“It seems that there was no investigation done other than my client’s name,” said civil attorney Kristopher Nowicki, who is now representing Cody Lee Williams. “It is not Cody Williams’ obligation to investigate crimes on behalf of the state of Florida.”

The article doesn’t include any comment from Cody Raymond Williams or his legal counsel.

Hat tip: New York Daily News.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Jailed based on mistaken identity, some who did nothing wrong are held days, weeks or months”

ABAJournal.com:: “Identity-theft victim wins $105K jury award for night spent in lockup and arraignment in jail garb”

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