Defense of Sex Crimes Charges in the State of Florida
A person charged with a sexually-motivated crime in Florida might feel like the case is over before it begins. The alleged perpetrator of a sex crime will most likely face a long, hard prison term if found guilty, in addition to the social stigma attached to a sex crime. Although presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt according to the interpretation of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the person facing sex crimes in Florida might feel like the constitution does not apply in his or her case. In other words, the person charged with a sex crime might feel like he or she carries the burden to prove himself or herself innocent, instead of the prosecution carrying the burden of proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Police investigators and prosecutors are highly sympathetic to victims of sexual assault. They should be. Victims of sexual assault, both female and male, can suffer life-long psychological and emotional damage. Victims often experience self-loathing, suffer suicidal ideations, and develop a negative self-image as adults.
Child sexual assault victims are even more vulnerable. Child victims are nearly always victimized by someone in a position of trust, whether that be in the child’s family, school, religious community, or social community. Child victims of sexual assault frequently suffer insurmountable trust issues later in life. They might even be so damaged that they become perpetrators themselves. In short, child victims of sexual assault have their innocence ripped away from them. Once gone, innocence will never be recovered, and their opportunity to live a “normal” life is gone forever.
Challenging the Credibility of the “Victim”
Against that backdrop, contesting sex crimes in Florida sounds hopeless. The sympathetic ear lent to victims by detectives and prosecutors could have the opposite effect. Many officers and prosecutors “rush to judgment” immediately upon hearing a victim’s story. The bias in favor of believing a victim of sexual assault without exception could benefit the defense. Not everyone who claims to be a victim of sexual assault is an actual victim. While some victims disclose their stories with gut-wrenching clarity, others might gloss over or hide specific facts that cast doubt on her or his credibility.
The credibility of the alleged victim is most often the crux of the case. The prosecutor will win a conviction if the jury believes the victim, especially when the victim did not disclose the abuse until after it is over. In fact, decades could pass between when the crime occurred and when the victim discloses. In these types of cases, often referred to as “delayed disclosure cases,” too much time has passed to collect evidence like blood, semen, or DNA. These items do not remain intact forever. Without that evidence, the government must ask the jury to convict based solely on the victim’s story. The victim would appear to be more credible if she or he had a legitimate reason to delay disclosure, such as fear or lack of a trusted person to tell.
The best defense for sex crimes in Florida will depend upon the nature and circumstances of the particular case. Only a Florida sex crime defense attorney with tremendous experience and a proven history of success has sufficient knowledge, skill, and determination to analyze the case and develop a multi-tiered defense that will yield the best result for the accused. The best defense in one case might not carry any weight in another.
Casting doubt on the credibility of the accuser is essential to winning an acquittal after trial for a Florida sex crime in delayed disclosure case. A thorough investigation conducted by the defense could reveal that the victim had a motive to lie, that the victim had a bias against the accused, or that the victim is outright lying.
Many of the same issues that surface in delayed disclosure cases also arise in cases dubbed “date rapes.” Date rape is an incident that involves two people who are known to each other. Frequently, the defense in date rape cases does not involve disproving sexual contact. Most cases of date rape cases involve the issue of consent.
Consent to engage in sexual contact must be freely given and may be revoked at any time. Thus, the central issue in date rape cases concerns the credibility of the complainant and whether she or he freely consented to the sexual act or withdrew consent. Some cases involve the issue of whether the alleged victim could legally consent to sex at all.
A minor has no legal capacity to consent to sexual intercourse, even if she or he verbally consents. The words are meaningless if the person is not old enough. This scenario is commonly referred to as statutory rape. Moreover, drugging another to have sex or have sex with a person so intoxicated that the individual cannot make a rational decision to consent to sex is rape.
In these cases, the credibility of the alleged victim is the lynchpin of the case. Constructing a solid defense can expose the weakness in the government’s case and lead to the accused winning an acquittal.
Scientific evidence could play a significant role in sexual assault cases in Florida. When a person is sexually violated by a stranger, the only evidence of identification might be DNA. If the offender let a sample behind, then the government will build a case to eliminate all other possible people as suspects, leaving the person matched to the sample as the guilty party. The vast majority of jurors are overwhelmed by DNA and other scientific evidence. In fact, many lawyers and judges also lack the knowledge to understand DNA completely. Defense in a sexual assault in that instance could focus on the validity of the scientific process, the collection of evidence, the preservation of evidence, and the validity of the test and results.
Florida´s “The Jimmy Ryce Act”
Florida, like most states, enacted a law that permits the state to keep certain sex offenders locked up indefinitely. In Florida, that law is colloquially known as “The Jimmy Ryce Act.” The Jimmy Ryce Act was enacted in 1999 and is found in §394.912 of the Florida Statutes. The state will file a civil case instead of criminal charges to prove that the person who will be released from prison after serving a long sentence for a sexually-motivated crime should be housed involuntarily in the Florida Civil Commitment Center because the person has a mental defect which makes him or her — although the overwhelming majority of the cases involve males — a danger to reenter society as a sexual predator.