Articles Posted in Lewd and Lascivious Offenses

While every suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty, in some cases it makes sense for a person charged with a sex crime to enter into a plea agreement or to plead guilty and allow the court to assess a penalty based on that plea. Even if a defendant concedes guilt to a crime, however, the law still affords the defendant the right to a fair and appropriate sentence for the offense charged.

Recently, in a case arising out of the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the court vacated a sentence for a defendant who entered an open plea for the charge of lewd and lascivious behavior, due to an error on the sentencing scoresheet. If you are charged with a sex crime in Clearwater, you should retain a knowledgeable Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to discuss which plea option is in your best interest.

Defendant’s Plea and Subsequent Sentencing

Reportedly, the defendant entered an open plea to lewd or lascivious battery, burglary, and grand theft. In Florida, an open plea is essentially a guilty plea without an agreement with the state regarding sentencing. Rather, an open plea allows the judge to determine the appropriate sentence for the crimes charged.

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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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If a defendant is asking the court for something, usually they need to file a motion. A motion is a document that asks the court to take a specific action. When a defendant files a motion with the court, there are specific requirements that the motion must conform to in order for the court to be willing to consider it. Generally, the motion must include the relief requested and the reasons the court should grant the relief. One of the things that defendants need to be aware of is if that some motions are only allowed to be filed once, and so must include all of the requisite information. It can be confusing, which is where your skilled Clearwater sex crimes defense attorney comes in. They can help you to make sure that any motions you file are complete.

Florida Post-Conviction Relief: 3.850

In a case heard by the Fourth District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida, the motion at issue was a motion for post-conviction relief, based on rule 3.850 in the Florida Criminal Code. The defendant here was convicted of two counts of lewd or lascivious battery on a child over 12 and one count of lewd of lascivious molestation. After his conviction was affirmed on direct appeal, the defendant filed a rule 3.850 motion with the assistance of counsel from the public defender’s office.

Post-conviction relief may be available for defendants when there has been ineffective assistance of counsel, when there are requests for DNA testing, and when there are concerns that the sentence may be illegal. Since this motion is seeking post-conviction relief, it can only be filed after there has been a conviction. Generally a motion of this kind is asking for the original verdict to be vacated and for there to be a new trial.

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There are specific laws regarding what evidence prosecutors are allowed to use to prove their case in court. As will be discussed in more detail below, the state can present relevant evidence as long as its probative value is not outweighed by the prejudicial effects on the defendant.

In this case, a man was charged with conspiracy to commit the felony of tampering with a victim. Originally, the defendant was charged with lewd or lascivious molestation. While he was in jail on those charges he called his former girlfriend (and co-defendant). The phone call was recorded. At the beginning of all calls from the jail there is a recording stating that calls are recorded and subject to monitoring.

In this recording, the defendant is heard asking his former girlfriend to talk to the victim and her mother. He also is heard saying that she should tell the police that the phone was stolen and he did not have it at the relevant time, even though he mentioned that the ex-girlfriend was currently in possession of the phone. The original 17 minute phone call was redacted down to seven minutes for the jury to hear. There was no mention of the underlying Florida sex crime charges in the recording that they heard.