Charges dropped against Uber driver who was wrongly arrested

Jose Batista released from jail in May, charges dropped last week

By Jerry Askin - Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A Central Florida man has been cleared of all charges from South Florida that wrongfully jailed him back in May.

Jose Batista spent a week at the Orange County Jail for a crime back in 1995.

"I lost a week of my life," said Batista in an interview with News 6 Thursday. He said it has been tough trying to bounce back. 

Even though Batista was released from jail in May, he's still had to appear in court to finish the case. Records from the Miami Dade State Attorney's Office show a judge dropped the aggravated battery charge against Batista last week. 

Miami Dade prosecutors said they tracked down the victim. She told them she did not know Batista back in 1995 and could not identify him.

"The person who actually did it is going to get away with doing something horrible, because this was a horrible crime," said Batisa's wife, Elizabeth Rios.

Batista told News 6 he's worried about finding future work. He said even though his charges have been dropped, his name has been tarnished by a crime he says someone else did. 

"If they run my background, it might come up, I don’t know," said Batista.  "If they Google my name, they may find I was arrested in May." 

News 6's coverage helped Batista get both his job driving for Uber and his car back.  But the court process and court fees have made things tough for the family. Batista said he’s behind on car payments, now preventing him from legally driving for Uber.  

"We’re starting from zero again. It’s been really hard with no one working," said Rios. 

Members of his family said they are considering legal action.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said the mistake happened after someone entered the wrong FBI number with Jose’s case.

FDLE officials said Batisa can apply through the courts to try to get his record sealed or expunged. If he does not qualify for a court ordered seal or expungement under Florida law based on his criminal history, FDLE officials said he could ask for an administrative expungement from the arresting agency. 

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