Melbourne Sex Crime Defense Lawyers
Although all criminal offenses involving sexual activity are deemed “sex crimes,” they are not all considered to be of equal severity. For instance, solicitation of a sex worker is a misdemeanor offense, as is voyeurism, while child pornography-related offenses and sexual assault are charged as felonies. This is an important distinction, not only because felonies come with lengthier prison sentences and higher fines, but because those convicted of felonies are required to register as sex offenders. This can have important repercussions, so if you are being investigated for involvement in a sex offense, you should consider speaking with an experienced Melbourne sex crime defense attorney who may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
Melbourne Sexual Battery Lawyer
In Florida, rape and sexual assault both fall under Fla. Stat. 794.011, which prohibits non-consensual vagina, oral, or anal penetration. This is one of the most serious sex offenses in Florida, so penalties are correspondingly severe and include the possibility of a lifetime prison sentence. However, the actual penalties faced by a defendant depend in large part on the circumstances of a particular case, which includes an analysis of:
- Whether the victim was physically unable to resist;
- Whether the defendant allegedly threatened to use force or violence during the commission of the offense;
- Whether the defendant administered or knew that someone else had administered, a narcotic, anesthetic, or other intoxicating substance to the victim who was mentally or physically incapacitated as a result;
- Whether the victim had a mental defect;
- Whether the victim was physically incapacitated; and
- Whether the offender was a law enforcement, correctional, or probation officer.
In the event that an alleged victim is deemed to have been mentally incapacitated at the time of the offense, the accused could have his or her charges enhanced to aggravated sexual battery, which is more commonly referred to as date rape.
Melbourne Aggravated Sexual Battery Attorney
A sexual battery as described above, but under one or more of these circumstances:
- The victim is physically incapable of resisting;
- The victim is threatened into submission by intimidation, violence, or force that is liable to cause severe personal injury and the victim honestly believes the offender’s capacity to carry out the threat;
- The victim is pressured into submission by threats of retaliation against the victim or another person, and the victim honestly believes that the offender has the capability to perform the threatening behavior at some point in the future;
- Without their knowledge or their consent, the victim is drugged so that they are physically and/or mentally incapacitated;
- The victim was abused because they were known to have a mental defect;
- The victim is physically incapacitated of their own doing, such as having too much to drink; and/or
- The offender is a corrections officer, correctional probation officer, law enforcement officer, or any other person who may be in a position of authority and/or control, or someone whom the victim reasonably believed was in a position of control or authority as an agent or as a government employee.
Sexual Battery Likely to Cause Serious Personal Injury
Sexual battery that is likely to cause serious personal injury is defined as a person having non-consensual anal, oral, or vaginal contact with another person as the effect of their use of any type of physical force that can reasonably be expected to result in a severe personal injury.
Melbourne Date Rape Attorney
Date rape is not specifically defined in Florida. However, it does fall firmly under the category of sexual battery, as it involves mental incapacitation, which is defined as occurring when a person is temporarily incapable of assessing or controlling his or her own conduct as a result of:
- The ingestion of a narcotic, anesthetic, or intoxicating substance that was administered to a person without his or her consent; or
- Any other act committed upon the victim without his or her consent.
In many date rape cases, defendants are accused of drugging the alleged victim with a chemical compound that heightens the effect of other intoxicants, such as alcohol. The most common forms of these drugs are Rohypnol, GHB, and Ketamine, all of which are colorless and odorless. Ingesting these substances can leave a person fatigued, confused, and suffering from memory problems, while some can cause unconsciousness. These effects make the person who ingests them unable to knowingly consent to sexual activity. However, just because a person was not administered a date rape drug does not mean that he or she was not the victim of date rape, as Florida law prohibits sexual contact with any person who is physically helpless because he or she was asleep, unconscious, or physically unable to communicate a lack of consent.
Those who are convicted of aggravated sexual battery could end up being sentenced to anywhere from three years to life in prison, so speaking to a Melbourne sexual battery attorney about raising a strong defense is extremely important. The two main statutory defenses that defendants can raise in these cases are that the alleged victim consented to the sexual activity or that he or she made false allegations. The former requires proof that the other party voluntarily and knowingly consented to the sexual activity. Generally, a failure to physically resist is not considered consent. False allegations due to jealousy, mental illness, and manipulation by a third party can also support a dismissal of aggravated sexual battery charges.
Melbourne Federal Sexual Assault Lawyer
Defendants who are accused of rape or sexual battery in Florida could also end up being charged with sexual assault in federal court. This is because of federal law 10 U.S.C. 920 explicitly forbids sexual assault, which is much more broadly defined as committing any sexual act upon another person through the use of threats, causing bodily harm, or fraud, or while a person is unconscious, asleep, impaired by a drug or intoxicant, or suffering from a mental defect. Unlike state law, the federal statute does not require proof of penetration and so is often easier to establish.
Sex Offenders’ Risk Assessment
A fundamental element of Florida’s sex offender probation program is the intricate process of risk assessment. This risk assessment is able to be employed before sentencing as a critical component of the defense’s tactics. A risk assessment is administered by a qualified professional, normally a psychiatrist or a psychologist who possesses a special skill set that is required for treating sex offenders. This assessment will define the risk that the defendant poses to the general public based on a thorough psychological analysis, physical and mental health assessment, their current offenses, any prior criminal record and their readiness to cooperate and submit to the treatment program.
The accused’s refusal or agreement to take part in the sex offender risk assessment is not judged to be an admission of innocence or of guilt and may not be used as one throughout the course of the trial. If the report shows that the accused poses utterly no threat to the general public, however, a qualified Melbourne, Florida sex crimes defense attorney would be allowed to cite the assessment in an effort to help with plea bargaining or when it comes to sentencing. If the effort proves to be successful, then the defendant could circumvent incarceration and only be required to take part in the sex offender probation program.
Sex Offender Probation Program
The bulk of sexual offenders who consent to participate in this program do so as a requirement of their early discharge from prison. A lucky few, however, are fortunate enough to bypass this penalty via the risk assessment process. Florida’s sex offender probation program is one of the most thorough and demanding programs in the state of Florida but it is worth the hardship if it means bypassing a long stay in the state prison. Those who cooperate in this program have to meet several conditions which include, but are not limited to:
- Statutory curfews
- Thorough participation in and completion of the sex offender therapy program
- Passing random checks to ensure the offender is not accessing, owning, viewing or possessing any sexually stimulating, pornographic, or obscene auditory or visual material, including electronic media, telephone, computer services, or computer programs that are related to the offender’s aberrant pattern of behavior
- The offender may not access the Internet or any other electronic services until a qualified professional from the offender’s treatment program establishes a safety system pertaining to the offenders accessing or using the Internet or other computer services after a risk evaluation is performed
- The offender must agree to submit to warrantless searches of their person, house and/or car
- Submission to polygraph examinations that will take place no less than once a year
If the terms of the probation are not upheld, then the sex offender will be legally compelled to go to prison. Given the gravity with which the court handles sexual offenses, particularly those where children are involved, it is imperative that you hire a qualified sex crimes defense attorney who is knowledgeable of the laws and defense options as soon as you are able to do so. Doing this could preserve your employment and your reputation by not making you serve time in prison.
Never Speak With Law Enforcement On Your Own
There is nothing that you can say that is going to magically clear and make all of this vanish into thin air right there on the spot. Anything that you do say, however, “can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Consequently, it is better to use your right to remain silent, and if the police persist in wanting to question you, then you should get in touch with a criminal defense attorney before you give them any kind of a response. Know that any comments your attorney provides to the authorities on your account are legally forbidden to be used against you in a court of law. This is why it is always an intelligent idea to only talk to law enforcement officials through your Melbourne, Florida sex crimes criminal defense attorney.
Agree to a Polygraph Test
In the event that you are genuinely innocent, you should give serious thought to yielding to any requests law enforcement has made concerning you taking a confidential lie detector test. It’s true that the results are prevented from being used as evidence in a court of law, but the state may be less apt to charge you if your results indicate that you are not guilty. If the results are not positive, however, then your attorney will not disclose that fact to anyone. Instead, your attorney might be able to apply those results to construct a different, and more fitting defense to your charges.
Always invoke your right to a criminal attorney. If the police wish to question you, contact a criminal defense lawyer from Musca Law so that our Florida sex crimes attorneys can offer you guidance on the best way for you to respond.
If you have been charged with any form of criminal malfeasance in the Melbourne, Florida area it is absolutely necessary that you retain qualified legal counsel as soon as you are able to do so. Our criminal defense attorneys here at Musca law will be able to go over your case with you in a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation in our Melbourne area offices and, from there, figure out the best way to handle your case and begin constructing the absolute strongest defense possible for you.
Our aim is always to get your case thrown out entirely. In the event that a dismissal is not a great probability, we will work diligently in order to get your criminal charges reduced by as much as we possibly can. This will help you to minimize and fines and penalties, avoid long incarceration in state prison, and will possibly keep you from being legally forced to register as a sex offender or a sexual predator with the state of Florida.