PANAMA CITY MAN AWAITS SENTENCE FOR HAVING SEX WITH A MINOR

Matthew Jay Hale was found guilty for five different counts after having a sexual relationship with a minor but his defense is attempting to get one count dismissed. The case dates back to 2016 after the Bay County Sheriff’s Office received information of the relationship. Through interviewing the victim, deputies say Hale and the victim met for the first time in the area of Crooked Lane and Highway 77 and rode around in the wooded area. The victim stated in this instance, the two only talked. In the interview, deputies say the victim stated the sexual activity occurred between the week school started and week after in the year 2016. Hale was charged with six different counts: one count of solicitation of a minor for sexual conduct, two counts of travel to meet a minor for sexual activity, two counts of unnatural and lascivious act and one count of lewd or lascivious battery. A jury found Hale guilty of all charges except for the one count of lewd or lascivious battery. Just one day before Hale’s sentencing hearing, the defense motioned to the state to dismiss the count of solicitation of a minor for sexual activity. The motion states the count should be dismissed because the Florida and United States Constitutions have double jeopardy clauses that stop the state from subjecting a person to multiple prosecutions, convictions and punishments for the same criminal offense. The defense says the two counts of travel to meet a minor for sexual activity are set out in the first count of solicitation. No word yet on if the motion is approved or denied.

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