Sexual Battery Charges In Florida – What To Do If You Have Been Charged
Sex crimes are taken very seriously by law enforcement in Florida, and a sexual battery charge can carry severe consequences if one is convicted. In addition to being a felony that can carry a prison sentence, sexual battery charges can have other ramifications, such as:
- Loss of employment and/or inability to be hired for certain jobs
- Inability to obtain certain types of rental housing
- Negative press, in your local paper and online
- Damaged reputation in your community and online
- Lifelong registration as a sex offender.
Because of the sometimes sensational nature of these crimes and the allegations involved, law enforcement and prosecutors often take a heavy-handed approach to those accused. It is more important than ever for those accused of sexual battery in Florida to review all of their options and consult with an experienced Orlando sex crimes attorney that has worked on these cases before.
Legal Definition and Penalties Involved
Under Florida Statute 794.011, the definition of sexual battery in Florida is interpreted as oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another individual or the anal or vaginal penetration of another person by any other object. This does not include an act carried out for the purposes of a genuine or real medical reason.
Sexual battery charges are felonies in Florida, although not all charges involve the same felony. Depending on the nature of the case and facts involved, some sexual batteries may be capital felonies, life felonies, first degree felonies or second-degree felonies.
The time served in prison for sexual battery in Florida is day-for-day, meaning an individual is not eligible for gain time and must endure the entirety of their sentence. This means these inmates cannot earn a reduction in their overall sentence by work participation or good behavior while in custody. In addition, Florida’s sentencing guidelines include minimum statutory sentences for crimes like sexual batter. In Florida, the mandatory minimum sentence for sexual battery upon an individual over 18 years old is 34.5 months. That is a heavy price to pay for what you might believe was a mistaken accusation.
Available Defenses to a Sexual Battery Charge in Florida
An individual charged with sexual battery is innocent until proven guilty, and the prosecution bears the burden of proving guilt at trial. Often, due to the highly emotional nature of the crime, law enforcement may rush to judgment and overlook evidence that could exonerate the person accused of this crime. They may skip steps in their investigation, or fail to properly observe a person’s Constitutional rights while collecting evidence or interrogating the accused.
In many cases, the accuser has some type of personal relationship with the accused, which can bring complications to the case. In some situations, because of some personal issues, the accuser may have some underlying motive in bringing false sexual battery claims against another person. A good defense attorney will be able to fully investigate these facts, if they apply, and bring them to light.
Grounds for acquittal or dismissal on a sexual battery charge can include:
- The prosecution failed to meet its burden of proof
If the prosecution fails to show – or does not possess – certain evidence linking the defendant to the alleged crime, their case cannot be proven in court.
Additionally, if law enforcement deprived the defendant of certain Constitutional rights during the course of their investigation, potentially damaging evidence can be suppressed during the pre-trial phases. An attorney experienced in these matters will be able to right these wrongs and spot evidence that should be thrown out.
Under Florida law, the term “consent” is interpreted as intelligent, knowing, and voluntary consent and does not include coerced submission. It is not deemed or construed to mean the failure by the alleged victim to offer physical resistance to the defendant. If the victim is mentally incapacitated and not able to give consent because he or she is in a coma or passed out from drugs or alcohol, and the perpetrator commits the sex act upon said person, then the offender could be convicted of sexual battery.
Affirmative evidence of consent may include:
- What the accuser said to the accused (either in person or via text message, social media messaging, etc.)
- Eyewitness statements
- The relationship history between the accuser and the accused
- Lack of resistance, or lack of injuries/evidence of force
- Security camera footage, if the alleged incident took place in certain public areas
- Communications between the accuser and accused after the alleged incident
- Other circumstantial evidence of consent between the parties
When to Call an Orlando Sexual Battery Defense Attorney
Due to the serious lifelong consequences involved, someone accused of sexual battery in Florida must prepare a vigorous defense from the beginning of their case. Being charged with this crime does not necessarily mean long-term damage for the person accused, but a conviction certainly does. Trying to fight this battle on your own can be a recipe for disaster. You should contact an Orlando sexual battery defense lawyer as soon as possible to plan for a fair outcome in your case.
Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, a qualified attorney may be able to reduce your charges, or even secure an acquittal or dismissal of the case. This depends on a detailed analysis of the available evidence and facts of the police investigation. Attorneys with years of experience in this area, such as ours, will make sure that no stone goes unturned during the preparation of your defense. We may also be able to discuss potential plea agreements that could be in your best interests under the circumstances.
Talk to an Orlando Defense Attorney to Discuss Bail and Bond Reductions or Release
At Joshi Law Firm, PA, we understand that your reputation and freedoms are at stake from the outset of a sexual battery case. To assess your situation and start building your defense strategy, contact our office today.