Florida Court Discusses the Standards for Granting an Acquittal in a Sex Crime Case

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.

In the subject case, the defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal argued that there was no proof that he induced or authorized the victim to engage in sex acts. On appeal, however, the defendant argued that the child was asleep in the photographs and that a sleeping victim cannot engage in sexual conduct. The court found that the defendant failed to preserve this argument, but rejected it nonetheless. Specifically, the court found that sexual conduct was defined broadly and did not require active participation by the victim. Thus, the court found no error in the denial of the defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal.

Meet with a Diligent Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are a resident of Sarasota currently charged with child pornography or a similar type of sex crime, it is wise to meet with a diligent defense attorney regarding your potential defenses. Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a proficient Sarasota sex crime attorney who will work tirelessly to help you seek the best outcome available under the facts of your case. You can contact Mr. Hanlon at 941-462-1789 or via the form online to schedule a complimentary and free meeting.

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