Articles Posted in Attempted Sexual Battery

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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Under Florida law, a lesser included offense is a less serious crime that is incorporated into a more serious crime. For example, a lewd and lascivious act, which is a misdemeanor, is a lesser included offense in several felony level sex crimes. In cases where the jury is permitted to evaluate whether a defendant is guilty of a lesser included offense, a defendant may avoid the risk of a felony conviction. Therefore, if a defendant is tried for a crime that has a lesser included offense it is essential that the jury is instructed regarding the lesser offense.

As the court recently affirmed in Calhoun v. Floridaa case arising out of the First District Court of Appeal of Florida, the failure to ensure a jury is properly instructed regarding lesser included offenses results in a waiver of the right. If you are charged with a sex crime in Clearwater it is essential to your defense obtain a skilled Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to evaluate your case.

Factual Background

Purportedly, in Calhoun, the defendant was charged and convicted of sexual battery by multiple perpetrators. He appealed, arguing that the trial court erroneously failed to instruct the jury regarding the lesser included offense of a lewd and lascivious act. The court affirmed the defendant’s conviction, finding that the defendant did not argue at trial that the court erred in failing to instruct the jury on a lesser included offense, and therefore did not preserve the issue for appeal.

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