Articles Posted in Sexual Battery

In many cases in which a person is charged with a sex offense involving a child, the State will have little if any direct evidence that a crime was committed. As such, the prosecution will often seek to admit circumstantial evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt, which may include hearsay testimony. Under the Florida Rules of Evidence, hearsay is generally inadmissible, but there are exceptions, as discussed in a recent ruling in which a Florida court affirmed a defendant’s conviction for sexual battery of a minor. If you are accused of committing a sex crime against a minor, it is advisable to meet with an experienced Sarasota criminal defense attorney to discuss your options.

The Charges Against the Defendant

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with sexual battery on an individual under the age of twelve. The charge arose from the allegation that he assaulted his former girlfriend’s daughter over the course of four years when he lived with the girlfriend. Prior to trial, the State filed a notice that it intended to admit hearsay evidence in the form of a handwritten note in which the victim described her sexual abuse. Following a hearing, the trial court deemed the note admissible. The defendant was convicted as charged, after which he appealed, arguing, in part, that the court erred in publishing the note.

Hearsay Testimony in Florida Criminal Trials

On appeal, the court held that the admission of the victim’s note into evidence was proper under the Florida Statute Section 90.803(23), which establishes the standard for allowing hearsay statements of child sex abuse victims into evidence at criminal trials. Specifically, the Statute states that the statement must meet certain requirements with regards to reliability. First, it must come from a source that indicates trustworthiness. Second, the content, circumstances, and time of the statement must reflect that it provides adequate safeguards of reliability.

Continue Reading ›

Frequently, when a crime is committed, the police will gather any available DNA that is located at the crime scene and submit it for comparison with the profiles stored on a DNA database known as CODIS (Combined DNA Index System). Recently, in a case in which the defendant was charged with sexual battery, a Florida court analyzed whether the inclusion of a criminal defendant’s DNA in CODIS violated the defendant’s rights. If you are charged with a sexual battery offense, it is critical to retain an assertive Sarasota sex crime defense attorney to help you seek to safeguard your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the victim was sexually assaulted in her home, after which she attempted to run across the street to her niece’s house. When she was in the street, she was struck by a car and run over several times. The victim’s niece heard a car driving aggressively, which caused her to go outside and investigate. The victim, who was lying on the ground, managed to convey to her niece that she had been sexually assaulted. She was transported to the hospital where she later died.

Allegedly, when the police were investigating the crime, they obtained DNA evidence from a sponge in the victim’s bedroom. They entered the DNA into CODIS, which resulted in a match with the defendant’s DNA. He was subsequently charged with sexual battery and numerous other crimes. At trial, the defendant moved to have the DNA evidence excluded, arguing that his DNA should not have been in CODIS as his prior conviction had been reversed, and his record had been expunged. Thus, he asserted the evidence was the fruit of the poisonous tree and violated his constitutional rights and should be suppressed. The court denied his motion, and he was convicted, after which he appealed.

Continue Reading ›

In some instances in which a defendant is charged with a sex crime, the State’s evidence is compelling, and it is prudent for the defendant to enter a plea of nolo contendere to avoid receiving the maximum penalties permitted. Even if a defendant does not defend against criminal charges, however, any sentence issued must nonetheless be within the statutory limitations, and if they are not, may be vacated as illegal sentences, as discussed in a recent Florida case. If you are charged with a sex crime, it is advisable to contact an experienced Sarasota sex crime defense attorney regarding your options and potential penalties.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with attempted sexual battery and attempted lascivious or lewd molestation, both of which were allegedly committed against a person less than twelve years old. The defendant entered a plea of nolo contendere, after which the court imposed concurrent sentences of twenty years imprisonment, followed by probation for life. The defendant appealed, arguing that the sentences were illegal because they exceeded the maximum penalties set forth by law for second-degree felonies. The trial court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed the denial.

Grounds for Vacating a Sentence in Florida

Under the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, a court may correct an illegal sentence if the defendant affirmatively alleges that the court records, on their face, establish an entitlement to the relief requested. In the subject case, the court noted that sexual battery on a person under twelve years old is a first-degree felony that is punishable by up to thirty years in prison. Thus, the court found that the sentence of twenty years imprisonment followed by lifelong probation exceeded the statutory maximum and, as such, was illegal.

Continue Reading ›

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.

Continue Reading ›

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.

Continue Reading ›

Many criminal cases are resolved prior to trial. If a criminal case proceeds to trial, however, it is vital that the jury is correctly instructed on the precise elements of the crime, as the failure to do so can result in an unjust conviction. This was demonstrated in a recent case in which a Florida appellate court reversed the defendant’s conviction for sexual battery, due to the fact that the jury was improperly instructed on the elements of the crime. If you are a Sarasota resident facing charges of a sex crime, including sexual battery on a person under twelve years old, it is crucial to engage a skilled Sarasota sex crime defense attorney to develop persuasive arguments on your behalf to help you seek a favorable result under the facts of your case.

Factual and Procedural Background

Reportedly, the victim lived wither her father and her stepmother during the week, and her mother and the defendant on the weekends. On one occasion when the stepmother picked up the victim after a weekend with her mother and the defendant, the victim was acting strangely. The stepmother asked the victim if anything happened, after which the victim began to cry and reported that the defendant had touched her inappropriately.

It is alleged that the stepmother told the father, who called the police. They then took the victim to a clinic to be examined. The defendant was charged with sexual battery on a person less then twelve years old. In the amended information charging the defendant, the State alleged the defendant committed two acts of sexual battery by causing his genitals to penetrate or have union with the “butt” of the victim. The case proceeded to trial, and during the trial the victim, who was ten at the time, testified that the defendant had contact with her “butt.” She had difficulty remembering things and testified inconsistently as to the precise acts that occurred.

Continue Reading ›

Contact Information