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Criminal defendants have a right to be represented by competent counsel, which means they have the right to an attorney who will explain the merits of any defenses, the strength of the prosecution’s case, and the potential penalties they face if convicted. If a defendant chooses to disregard the information or advice provided by counsel, however, he or she is not afforded another opportunity to re-argue the case via an appeal. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida sex-crime case in which the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling limiting evidence admissible at a post-conviction evidentiary hearing. If you are accused of committing a sex crime, it is in your best interest to consult a seasoned Sarasota sex crime defense attorney to discuss your options.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with and convicted of numerous sex crimes, including using a computer to solicit a parent to consent to sexual conduct of a child, traveling to engage in sexual conduct with a minor, and attempted lascivious and lewd battery. Following his conviction, he appealed, arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective in that he made unreasonable promises about the likelihood of success at trial and caused the defendant to reject a favorable plea deal. He further argued that if he accepted the plea deal, he would not have had to register as a sex offender.

Reportedly, however, during the evidentiary hearing on the issue, the court limited the defendant’s questioning to statements and advice provided by trial counsel, refusing to allow the defendant to admit evidence regarding the defendant’s mental health, potential defenses, and trial strategy. The defendant appealed, arguing he was denied a fair and full evidentiary hearing. Upon review, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s conviction and ruled that the conduct of the post-conviction court was proper during the evidentiary hearing.

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Many people convicted of sex crimes are fortunate enough to avoid jail time and are instead sentenced to probation. If a person sentenced to probation does not comply with the terms of his or her probation, the person’s probation may be revoked, and he or she may have to serve a prison sentence. The State must present cogent evidence that the acts of a person on probation constituted a violation in order to obtain a revocation, however, and if it cannot, a revocation may be unjust. This was demonstrated in a recent case in which a Florida appellate court reversed the revocation of a defendant’s probation, upon finding that the defendant’s possession of pornography did not constitute a violation of his probationary terms. If you are charged with a sex crime, it is prudent to speak with a trusted Sarasota sex crime defense attorney regarding your available defenses.

Factual Background of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with possession of child pornography. He pled guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence of sex offender probation for ten years. The defendant received a letter memorializing the terms of his probation, which were later orally pronounced at his sentencing hearing. The probationary terms included the requirement that the defendant could not view, own, access, or possess any pornographic materials that were relevant to his pattern of deviant behavior.

Allegedly, in March 2019, the State filed an affidavit stating that the defendant violated the terms of his probation after it was revealed that the defendant had a pornographic magazine. During the defendant’s probation violation hearing, the defendant argued that the magazine did not violate the terms of his probation, because it depicted adults and was not relevant to the deviant behavior associated with the offense of owning child pornography. The court disagreed, and the defendant was sentenced to prison, after which he appealed.

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Criminal matters typically involve an evaluation of what strategy is most likely to result in a successful outcome, whether it is asserting an affirmative defense, seeking a deal on a lesser charge, or some other plan. In some instances, if a criminal defendant chooses one plan of action, it may preclude him or her from asserting other defenses. For example, the issue of whether a defendant that argues the statute of limitations bars criminal charges is entitled to a jury instruction of a lesser included offense on the same charges was recently addressed by a Florida appellate court, in a case in which the defendant was charged with sexual battery.  If you are faced with charges of sexual battery or any other sex crime, it is critical to meet with an experienced Sarasota sex crime attorney to discuss what plan of action is most appropriate in your case.

Procedural History of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with armed sexual battery. Before the trial, he moved to have the charge dismissed, arguing that it was not filed within the statute of limitations. The court denied the defendant’s motion, and the case proceeded to trial. Following the prosecution’s case in chief, the defendant waived his right to argue the statute of limitations so that the jury could be instructed on the lesser included offense of sexual battery. The State argued that the defendant could not waive the right, and the court agreed, declining to instruct the jury regarding the sexual battery. The defendant was convicted of armed sexual battery, after which he appealed, arguing the court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the lesser included offense.

Right to a Jury Instruction Regarding a Lesser Included Offense

On appeal, the court stated that under Florida law, a criminal defendant cannot have a charge dismissed pursuant to the statute of limitations and then latter waive the statute of limitations argument as to lesser included offenses arising out of the dismissed charge. In other words, if the defendant gets charges dismissed based on the statute of limitations, he or she cannot then waive the statute of limitations as to other crimes arising out of the same criminal transaction.

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It is well established that the State must establish each element of an alleged crime in order to obtain a conviction. Thus, in many cases in which a defendant is convicted despite the lack of sufficient evidence, the defendant will file a motion for acquittal following his or her conviction. In a recent case in which the defendant was convicted of numerous sex crimes including sexual performance by a child, the court discussed the standards for granting an acquittal and the evidence needed to prove the crime of sexual performance by a child. If you are charged with a sex crime against a child, it is important to retain an assertive Sarasota sex crime attorney to assist you in fighting to protect your rights.

Factual Background

It is reported that following an incident in a dressing room at a thrift store, the police conducted an investigation regarding the defendant’s alleged videotaping of children. The police ultimately uncovered numerous photographs and videos of the defendant’s sister-in-law and her minor daughter, in which both the sister-in-law and daughter were nude. The police also found photographs in which the defendant’s penis was touching the minor daughter’s face and other photographs that depicted the defendant touching the child when she was asleep. The defendant was charged with approximately twenty sex crimes, including seven counts of sexual performance by a child. During the trial, the defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal. The motion was denied, and he was convicted on all charges, after which he appealed the denial of his motion.

Grounds for Granting a Motion for Acquittal

Under Florida law, a defendant filing a motion for judgment of acquittal may either argue that the State failed to present legally sufficient evidence that the defendant committed each element of the charged offense or in cases where the evidence is wholly circumstantial, that the State’s evidence is not inconsistent with any reasonable theory of innocence. To preserve either ground for seeking a judgment of acquittal, the defendant must identify the elements of the crime for which he or she alleges the State’s evidence is lacking, or in cases involving circumstantial evidence must outline the theory of his or her defense and explain why it is not inconsistent with the evidence presented.

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In any criminal case, the prosecution bears the burden of proving each element of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, the court will instruct the jury as to the elements of the crime a defendant is accused of committing, so that the jury may assess whether the evidence produced is sufficient to meet the State’s burden. If the jury is improperly instructed regarding the elements of the charged offense, however, it may result in an improper conviction. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida appellate court case in which the defendant’s conviction for sexual battery was reversed due to an improper jury instruction. If you are charged with committing sexual battery or any other sex crime, it is important to meet with a skillful Sarasota sex crime attorney to assess your options for seeking a favorable result.

Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was charged with numerous sex offenses, including attempted sexual battery, by attempting to penetrate the victim’s genitals with his genitals. He was convicted on all counts, after which he appealed on several grounds. The court deemed the majority of the defendant’s arguments meritless but addressed the issue of whether the trial court committed a fundamental error by issuing an improper jury instruction.

Fundamental Errors Due to Incorrect Jury Instructions

In most cases, a defendant must object to a jury instruction prior to when the jury retires for deliberation to preserve the right to appeal based on an improper jury instruction. In the subject case, the defendant did not make any objection to the instructions. As such, the court was required to determine whether the improper instruction given to the jury constituted a fundamental error. In other words, whether the error affected the validity of the trial as a whole, to the extent that the jury would not have reached a guilty verdict without the assistance of the error.

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It is not uncommon in criminal cases for the affidavit for an arrest warrant to contain facts and allegations the State is ultimately unable to prove at trial. If the defendant is ultimately convicted of the crimes with which he or she is charged if the information in the affidavit differs from the evidence presented at trial, the court cannot consider the information in the affidavit in determining an appropriate sentence. If the judge does consider unsubstantiated allegations in sentencing a defendant, it may be considered a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights and is grounds for vacating the sentence. This was shown in a recent Florida appellate court case in which the defendant was convicted of various sex crimes.  If you are charged with a sex crime in Sarasota, it is prudent to speak with a capable Sarasota sex crime attorney to assess your available defenses.

Procedural Background of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with lewd and lascivious battery of a child and with using a child in a sexual performance. A jury trial was held, during which the State introduced evidence that the defendant was involved in a sexual encounter with the victim, who was underage, and that he made a video recording of the encounter. The jury convicted the defendant of both charges.

It is alleged that during the sentencing hearing, the judge stated she was sentencing the defendant based on the circumstances surrounding the offense. The judge then proceeded to recite facts that were in the affidavit in support of the defendant’s arrest, which were different than the evidence produced at trial. The defendant’s attorney called the judge’s attention to the fact that there was no evidence of record to support the circumstances the judge relied upon in crafting her sentence. The judge agreed but issued the sentence of fifteen years imprisonment followed by fifteen years of sex offender probation regardless. The defendant appealed.

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When a person is charged with a crime in Florida, the State is generally precluded from introducing collateral evidence of other crimes. In other words, the State cannot produce evidence of uncharged crimes that the defendant allegedly committed as evidence of the defendant’s guilt. There are certain situations in which collateral crime evidence is admissible, however, as demonstrated in a recent Florida appellate court case, in which the defendant was charged with kidnapping. If you are a resident of Sarasota charged with kidnapping or another violent crime, it is in your best interest to speak with a knowledgeable Sarasota violent crime defense attorney to discuss the evidence that the State may be permitted to introduce against you at trial.

Evidence Produced at the Defendant’s Trial

The defendant was charged with eight crimes, including sexual battery, unlawful imprisonment, rape, and kidnapping. The case proceeded to trial, during which the State introduced evidence of crimes with which the defendant was not charged but that the State alleged he committed. The defendant was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing the trial court erred in permitting the State to introduce collateral crime evidence.

Collateral Crime Evidence in Florida Criminal Matters

On appeal, the defendant argued that the State introduced evidence of the defendant’s alleged collateral crimes to impugn his character and that allowing such evidence denied him of the right to a fair trial. Specifically, during the trial, the defendant’s alleged victim, who was his former girlfriend, testified that the defendant tortured her for hours. The defendant argued that such testimony was improper because it introduced evidence of acts that were not part of the crimes with which the defendant was charged.

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In many cases, a defendant who is convicted of a crime will be sentenced to probation. If a defendant violates the terms of the probation, however, the court may revoke the probation and sentence to the defendant to a term of imprisonment. Recently, a Florida appellate court discussed a defendant’s rights in probation revocation hearings in a case in which the defendant’s probation was revoked due to an alleged sexual assault. If you live in Sarasota and are faced with charges of sexual assault or any other crime, it is prudent to meet with a dedicated  Sarasota sex crime defense attorney regarding your case.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was charged with aggravated child abuse. He entered into a plea agreement with the State and was sentenced to probation for 36 months. Subsequently, the State alleged that the defendant violated his probation by committing two acts of sexual assault. The violation report listed the offenses as the sexual battery on a victim under twelve by a person eighteen years or older. A trial was held regarding the alleged charges.

Allegedly, at the end of the trial, prior to the jury’s decision, an evidentiary hearing was held on the alleged probation violation. The court revoked the defendant’s probation without allowing the defendant to speak and sentenced the defendant to five years of imprisonment. The defendant was subsequently found not guilty of sexual assault crimes. The jury submitted a note to the judge stated that they believed the defendant committed an illegal act, but the evidence was insufficient to prove the crime charged.

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In Florida, if a person is charged with molestation of a minor child, the State is permitted to admit the child’s out of court statements if there is other corroborating evidence to support the statements, under the child hearsay exception. If the statements are not corroborated, however, they will be insufficient to support a conviction.  The District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District, recently discussed the standards for admitting child hearsay in a case in which the defendant was charged with sex crimes against a child. If you live in Sarasota and a charged with a sex crime involving a minor it is essential to engage a skilled Sarasota sex crime defense attorney to discuss what evidence the State is permitted to use against you at trial.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant lived in the same house as his alleged victim, who was his eight-year-old niece. The victim reported to school administrators that the defendant touched her privates and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. She underwent a physical examination which revealed no injuries. A forensic interview was conducted of the victim, during which she stated that when she was in the defendant’s room, the defendant had placed his finger inside her privates, after which she bled. She also stated the defendant touched her outside of her clothes the day before in the living room.

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with sexual battery and lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under the age of twelve. During the trial, the victim’s out of court statements were admitted under the child hearsay exception. The victim also testified at trial but stated she did not recall the incident she talked about in her forensic interview where the defendant touched her over her clothes. Additionally, the victim testified regarding another incident that was not previously reported. The defendant was convicted on both counts, after which he appealed.

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Juvenile residents of Florida may be charged with sex crimes, and although they are generally treated with more leniency than adult defendants, they may still face significant penalties if they are convicted. For example, if a juvenile defendant is convicted of a sex crime, in certain cases, he or she may be required to register as a sex offender. The District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District, recently explained the grounds for imposing a sex offender registration requirement on a juvenile, in a case in which the defendant allegedly violated the terms of his probation following a conviction for a sex crime. If you are a minor living in Sarasota and are charged with a sex crime it is imperative to meet with a knowledgeable Sarasota sex crime defense attorney regarding the potential penalties you face and what defenses are available to help you avoid a conviction.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was deemed delinquent for violating the terms of his probation, following a conviction for the lascivious or lewd molestation of a victim who was less than twelve years old. During the violation of probation hearing the court imposed a sex offender registration requirement on the defendant. The defendant subsequently appealed, arguing that the court erred in imposing the requirement. Specifically, he argued that the registration requirement was based on factual findings that were not made by the original sentencing judge and were therefore improper.

Sex Offender Registration Requirement

Under the Florida statute pertaining to the registration of sex offenders, a person will be deemed a sex offender if he or she has been adjudicated delinquent for committing one of the enumerated sex crimes if he or she was fourteen years old or older at the time of the offense. One of the crimes that require a person to register as a sex offender is lascivious or lewd molestation, if the court finds the molestation involved unclothed genitalia.

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