Articles Posted in Attempted Sexual Battery

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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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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