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Enrollment Ends May 16th for Annual SAO Youth Mock Trial

The State Attorney’s Office is now accepting applications for their Annual Youth Mock Trial.

The four-day program will take place June 6th through June 9th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Polk County Courthouse in Bartow. This program gives students going in to the 11th and 12th grade an opportunity to work with prosecutors from the State Attorney’s Office and learn how a criminal case makes its way through the criminal justice system. Students will attend court hearings and study current cases to see how the law is applied.

Please fill out the application attached and submit to or mail to the Polk County Courthouse. Deadline to apply is May 16, 2022.

Mock Trial Program_APPLICATION

Mock Trial Program_FLYER


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Juanita Tappin

Polk County School Bus Attendant, Juanita Tappin, Sentenced to 30 Months Prison

Juanita TappinSchool bus attendant, Juanita Tappin, physically and verbally abused several special needs students while they were taken to and from school. On multiple occasions, video surveillance shows Tappin hitting the children on their head, face, and hands and using different objects to abuse them. No plea agreement was made and therefore this case was decided by a Polk County Jury, which convicted Tappin of Six Counts of Battery, Abuse of a Disabled Adult and Child Abuse. Following the jury trial, Senior Judge Dennis Maloney sentenced Tappin to a 30-month prison sentence followed by 30 months’ probation. State Attorney Brian Haas would like to thank the Polk County Sheriffs Office and Assistant State Attorney Jessica Fisher for their hard work and dedication in obtaining justice in this case.





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Daniel Meekins

Sebring Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison

Daniel Meekins Daniel Meekins was sentenced by a Highlands County Circuit Judge on Friday, March 25th to 30 years in prison followed by 30 years of Probation for Lewd Molestation. Meekins sexually abused a child on multiple occasions and tried to flee the country before Sgt. DeShazo, of the Sebring Police Department, located him packing a van full of his belongings. The plea agreement was supported by the victim’s family and prevented the victim from having to testify at a jury trial. State Attorney Brian Haas thanks Assistant State Attorney Courtney Lenhart and the Sebring Police Department for their hard work and dedication in obtaining justice in this case.







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Stevin Smith

Lakeland Man Convicted and Sentenced to Life in Prison

Stevin SmithA Circuit Judge sentenced Stevin Smith to Life in prison after being found guilty by a Polk County Jury of Attempted Armed Kidnapping and Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Smith has an extensive criminal record for Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon, Domestic Battery Strangulation, Robbery with a Weapon, Burglary of a Structure, Robbery, Felony Petit Theft, Possession of Cocaine, Sale of Cocaine, Grand Theft, and at least twenty-seven other convictions.
Smith tried to rob a man who was walking out of the Family Dollar at Kathleen Road in Lakeland. Smith retrieved a firearm from his person and aggressively approached the victim and demanded him to move behind the business where no one would see them. After the victim did not comply, Smith fired the gun nearly missing the victim and hitting a freezer located inside the store. State Attorney Brain Haas would like to thank the Lakeland Police Department and Assistant State Attorney Courtney Durden for their work in obtaining justice in this case.
SAO 10 seal with social media logos