Defending Against Sexual Battery Charges in Florida
There are two main ways to defend against false allegations of sexual battery in Florida. First, you can argue that the State Attorney did not meet his burden of proof. The prosecutor must show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you committed the act of sexual battery. That means that if the jury has any doubt based on reason, even just one, the jury must acquit you. You can argue that the prosecutor’s case is weak and failed to meet this burden. Second, you could put forth an affirmative defense during your case-in-chief. After the prosecutor calls witnesses and presents evidence, it will be your turn to call your own witnesses and introduce evidence if you choose to do so. At this time, you can present evidence of your innocence, known as an affirmative defense.
Undermining the State Attorney’s Case
You are not required to put on your own witnesses or present testimony. In fact, you could rest and proceed directly to closing arguments after the prosecutor wraps up his case. This tactic is only recommended in certain situations. However, under this strategy, your Florida criminal defense attorney will focus on undermining the State Attorney’s case during cross examination, motions for judgment of acquittal, and closing arguments.
During cross, your attorney will question government witnesses to reveal inconsistencies in their testimony or outright lies. When witnesses are not credible, the jury will afford their testimony little weight when deciding a verdict.
During a motion for judgment of acquittal (MJOA), made when the government rests, your attorney will argue that the prosecutor’s case failed to meet its burden of proof before you have even presented any evidence or testimony of your own. If the judge agrees, the case will be dismissed immediately.
If the judge disagrees, you can put on your own evidence or proceed to closing arguments. Again, at closing, your attorney will argue that the prosecutor did not meet its burden by explaining what that burden is and how the jury should interpret the evidence. You can be acquitted even if your MJOA was rejected because the burden of proof is different.
Affirmative Defenses in Sexual Battery Cases in Florida
You may also choose to put forth your own case to defend yourself. There are multiple affirmative defenses that are available. Which ones work for your case will depend on the exact circumstances.
Insanity: If you are able to prove you were insane at the time of the alleged incident, you will be unable to form the requisite intent to commit sexual battery and cannot be convicted.
Involuntary intoxication: If you committed sexual battery but were intoxicated against your will at the time (e.g. drugged without your consent), you will not be held responsible for your actions during this time.
Consent: If the complainant consented, you can present evidence of consent, such as what the complainant said to you, the lack of resistance, the history of your relationship, lack of injuries or evidence of force, and other circumstantial evidence to show the sex was voluntary and willing between two consenting adults.
Alibi: With an alibi defense, you show the police got the wrong person because you were somewhere else at the time the sexual battery occurred.
Duress: Though you committed the sexual battery, you did so under duress due to threats, intimidation, or violence. For example, someone held a gun to your head.
Fight Your Charge to Avoid Having to Register as a Sexual Offender or Sexual Predator
If you are convicted of a sex offense in Florida, chances are you were required to register with the state sex offender registry as either a sex offender or sexual predator. Registered sex offenders are those who have been convicted of a qualified sex offense, while the court-designated sexual predator are usually those who are deemed the most dangerous offenders and who have been convicted of a capital, life, or first degree felony sex offense, such as sexual battery, kidnapping, and some lewd and lascivious offenses. Upon release from incarceration, a sex offender or predator must register with their local sheriff’s department within forty-eight hours. In addition, out-of-state sex offenders are required to register in Florida, even if they are only visiting the State temporarily. Any failure to abide by the registration requirements can result in an additional felony conviction. But after registering as a sex offender or sexual predator, are there other rules and regulations you must follow? Are there restrictions on where you can live and work? Can I have a Facebook or other social networking account?
It depends on the circumstances of your sex offense, but in most cases, Florida’s sex offender registration laws do not prohibit sex offenders or sexual predators from living in certain places, or from sharing a residence with another sex offender or predator. Florida law does, however, impose residency restrictions on those convicted of sex crimes against victims who were younger than sixteen. In these instances, the sex offender or predator is prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of a playground, park, school, day care center, or other place where children are likely to be present. Additionally, it is possible that the city or county where you live imposes even stricter residency restrictions, or even restrictions on who you can come in contact with. Accordingly, it is important to contact local law enforcement to determine if there are any additional restrictions you must abide by as a registered sex offender or predator.
Florida law also prohibits certain sexual predators who committed sex offenses against minors, from working or volunteering with any business, day care center, park, playground, school, or any other place where children may be present. A violation of this restriction is considered a third degree felony.
Finally, also depending on the circumstances of your case, a sex offender or predator will likely be able to use or obtain a social networking account, like a Facebook account. While there is no Florida law that prohibits a sex offender or predator from using or obtaining an email or social networking account, it is possible that if you are still under supervision, there might be certain restrictions imposed by a judge. Thus, it is important to double check with your supervising authority before attempting to use or sign up for an account.
Sex offense charges in Florida are serious as a conviction can have significant and even lasting consequences. Penalties for sex offenses can include fines, jail time, and lifetime registration as a sex offender or sexual predator. If you have been arrested and charged with a sex offense, it is important that you speak with a knowledgeable and seasoned criminal defense attorney right away. Even if you have been convicted of a sex offense and have questions about the registration requirements, the attorneys at the Musca Law can help you navigate the complexities of the sex offender registry law. Get your case started by calling us at (888) 484-5057 today!