Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers in Punta Gorda, Florida
Florida Sex Crime Laws, Statutes, Defenses, and Defense Attorneys
Although those accused of committing a sex crime are innocent until proven guilty, these individuals often feel that they have no chance of being acquitted. Specifically, sex crimes are prosecuted heavily in Punta Gorda and are associated with severe consequences, including jail time, probation, being labeled a sex offender, and public scorn, to name a few. Combatting social stigma can become a major obstacle. However, it is important to realize that if you are being charged with a sex crime, you have certain legal rights, the same as those afforded to others who face criminal charges in Florida.
If you are being accused of a sex crime in Punta Gorda, it is critical that you contact the skilled Punta Gorda Sex Crime Defense Lawyers at Musca Law to learn more about your legal rights and options. You can call us today at (888) 484-5057 to schedule your free and completely confidential case consultation. Don’t wait, as your livelihood and freedom are at stake!
Sex-Related Criminal Behavior in Charlotte County, Florida
Florida law provides definitions of a variety of different sex-related crimes, which are as follows:
- Prostitution – Pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 796.07, prostitution-related transactions and the soliciting of a prostitute is prohibited in the state. The statute also criminalizes those who operate houses of ill repute and massage parlors where workers carry out sexual actions. Property rental agreements involving real estate to be used for such purposes is also a violation of Florida law. Moreover, under 796.07, coercing other individuals to engage in prostitution is illegal in Florida, as well as benefiting financially from acts of prostitution, which may be referred to colloquially as “pimping.”
- Sexual battery – There are a wide variety of criminal offenses that fall under the umbrella of sexual battery. These crimes are defined under Florida Statutes Sections 794 and 800. Sexual battery includes sexual assault, statutory rape, rape, as well as indecent assault. Which penalties may apply are provided under Section 794 and are determined based on the individual facts of one’s case, such as the age of the victim and the age of the alleged offender. There are additional potential aggravating factors that may come into play, as well. Keep in mind that those who use a weapon during the commission of sexual battery may face more severe repercussions.
Under the applicable law, sexual battery includes vaginal, anal, or oral penetration and/or union with the sex organ of another person or the penetration of one of the aforementioned areas with an object without the consent of that person. Consent that is granted due to undue influence or duress is not considered under the law as freely given. Additionally, an individual does not need to fight back or resist the law to determine consent was not freely given for a sexual act.
- Lewdness and indecent exposure – Lewdness pursuant to Florida Statutes Chapter 800 is an offense related to sexual battery, as it is defined in Chapter 794. Under Florida Statutes Section 800.04, it prescribes the penalties for individuals who engage in sexual acts with a child who is under sixteen years of age but older than twelve. This crime is referred to as statutory rape under the applicable law. It is not a valid defense against charges for this crime to believe that the child was old enough to consent, even if the child’s age was misrepresented to the accused.
The statute further provides legal consequences for those convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct or lewd molestation in instances where the offender makes contact with the sexual organs of another without the consent of that other person. Section 800.04 also makes it a crime to expose one’s genitals in public.
- Exposing minors to harmful sexual material – Chapter 847 of the Florida statute states that it is a third-degree felony to show obscene material to children. Section 847.001 defines “obscene” as “the status of material which: the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interests; depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct as specifically defined herein; and taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”
The Prosecution of Sexual Offenses in Punta Gorda, Florida
In Punta Gorda, many cases involving allegations of sexual abuse, despite a lack of physical evidence, are often brought to trial, regardless of whether the investigation was sufficient. Prosecutors and judges alike often have biases that are directed toward those accused of a sex-based crime. In some cases, law enforcement will rapidly investigate the accusations in order to prevent it from remaining open. This can result in the wrong person being taken into custody and facing charges for committing a sexual offense.
One typical issue that often causes complications in a sex offense case is what is known as delayed disclosure. When this occurs, a victim informs another person of what purportedly transpired long after the alleged incident happened.
Many prosecutors often believe that the alleged victim of a sexual-based offense is always being truthful. Unfortunately, such is not always the case. Many people have inaccurate memories, hold grudges, have biases that impair their judgment of certain people. Such possibilities mean that false allegations are sometimes made against other persons. This is why their stories must be challenged, and the witness must be cross-examined. This is also why a person who is facing allegations of sexual abuse must engage in an intense and thorough investigation of the case before a trial commences. A skilled attorney will aid the alleged offender in such efforts, and will rigorously cross-examine every witness brought forth by the prosecution.
Being falsely accused of a sex crime has serious consequences for the life of the suspect, which could affect his or her status at work, position in the community, and family life. Even if a person is acquitted, just the accusations alone can dramatically affect one’s reputation, as suspicions often linger.
Punta Gorda Undercover Sting Operations
Law enforcement officers in Florida often engage in undercover sting operations as an attempt to infiltrate groups who they believe engage in acts of human trafficking, street-level sexual conduct, and prostitution rings. Accordingly, many people have found themselves at the center of an undercover sting conducted by the police.
There are many scenarios in which police can engage in undercover sting operations. For instance, law enforcement often poses as children and instigate chats with alleged offenders on the internet. A female police officer can pretend to act as a prostitute in an effort to engage “johns” as part of a sting operation. Additionally, police can place false advertisements online to attract people to distribute child pornography or solicit the services of a prostitute.
Those accused of sex crimes in Florida who were caught in the sting can present the defense that they were entrapped, which is a violation of a person’s right to due process. Florida Statutes Section 777.201 provides the elements which are included in an entrapment. That section defines entrapment as occurring when “[a] law enforcement officer, a person engaged in cooperation with a law enforcement officer, or a person acting as an agent of a law enforcement officer perpetrates an entrapment if, for the purpose of obtaining evidence of the commission of a crime, he or she induces or encourages and, as a direct result, causes another person to engage in conduct constituting such crime by employing methods of persuasion or inducement which create a significant risk that such crime will be committed by a person other than one who is ready to commit it.”
In entrapment cases, the accused must prove the only reason he or she engaged in the crime, which at issue was because of law enforcement officers’ efforts to carry out an entrapment. An acquittal occurs if the accused is able to meet the preponderance of the evidence standard in showing that he or she was entrapped by law enforcement.
The ultimate decision is left to the trier of fact, who may be a judge or a jury.
Defense Against Allegations of Solicitation in Punta Gorda
An individual who is accused of engaging in any acts of solicitation may raise the defense of withdrawal, which is sometimes also referred to as renunciation under Florida law. Under Florida Statutes Section 777.04(5)(a)-(c), if the accused abandoned his or her attempt to engage in the criminal act, or prevented such an act from taking place, then he or she may properly raise the defense of renunciation. It also applies when the accused persuaded another individual not to engage in the alleged offense, or after taking part in a conspiracy with another person or persons planning to commit the offense, then persuaded such individuals not to commit the crime. If this defense is to apply, the person must have voluntarily and completely withdrawn from engaging in any type of criminal activity.
The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)
The Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, is a database that the Federal Bureau of Investigations maintains. This database keeps the DNA profiles of those convicted of crimes, including sexually-based offenses, in addition to the profiles of those who investigators suspect of committing a crime if such investigators obtained their biological samples.
CODIS enables law enforcement to upload samples collected from unknown individuals to the database and compare it with others already existing in the system to find out whether there are any matches in the system. If a match is found, a crime scene technician must obtain a sample from the individual whose matching DNA profile appeared in CODIS and compared it with the alleged offender’s sample acquired at a crime scene so that a presiding judge will admit such evidence in the accused’s trial.
CODIS has proven to be an effective tool for criminal investigators. When a match occurs, the evidence appears quite compelling, which often results in the judge ruling that the DNA evidence is conclusive. In many cases, though, the science is flawed. Specifically, those who examine the DNA may make a mistake or even fabricate test results. Accordingly, anyone who is facing charges related to a sex-based offense must examine all of the evidence closely and, with the help of a skilled Punta Gorda Sex Crime Defense Attorney, develop the strongest defense strategy possible.
Penalties Resulting from Sex Crime Convictions in Punta Gorda, Florida
Under Florida Statutes Section 775.082, it provides the guidelines for sentencing a convict in a sex-based offense in Florida. The applicable penalty in one’s case based on whether the crime qualifies as a misdemeanor or a felony. Some sex-based offenses, such as soliciting a prostitute, will constitute a misdemeanor associated with a one-year jail term for those convicted for the first time. The offender may qualify to undergo a diversion program, which depends upon several factors, including whether the individual has a prior criminal record. Notwithstanding, those convicted of engaging in sexual activities with a child that led to severe bodily injuries or death could face a life sentence without the possibility of parole or even the death penalties. Other sex-based offenses carry with them a life term of imprisonment without any possibility of parole or a term for several years. After an individual has served his or her time in prison, he or she will face a probationary period lasting for a certain amount of time, depending upon the sex-based crime that he or she was convicted of.
Additional Repercussions Associated with a Sex-Based Offense in Punta Gorda, Florida
Several sex-based offenses in Florida are associated with the requirement for an individual to register as a sex offender in the county of his or her jurisdiction. The obligation for a person to be listed on a sex offender registry is considered a separate requirement from any probationary period that is imposed upon him or her. Keep in mind that the presiding judge in one’s case can also find that the alleged offender is a sexual predator, which mandates reporting as a sex offender.
The Florida Sexual Predators Act dictates that it has the manifest purpose of seeking to prevent sex-based offenders from engaging in further acts of sexual violence. This means that the act requires an offender to register as a sex offender and, in certain instances, may also prevent him or her from using the internet. Additionally, the statute requires public notification of the sex offender.
Florida Statutes Section 775.215 states that a sex offender may also be restricted as to locations where he or she is permitted to reside. For example, a person who is subject to this statute must live a minimum of 1,000 feet away from a school, park, or daycare.
Musca Law: Aggressive Advocates for Our Clients Accused of Sex Crimes
If you have been accused of a sexually-based offense in Punta Gorda, Florida, you need the services of an aggressive and skilled Punta Gorda Defense Attorney from Musca Law. Together, our attorneys have a collective 150 years of criminal defense experience. Our litigators represent those accused of the most serious criminal acts, including murder and sex crimes.
The attorneys at Musca Law are listed on The National Trial Lawyers – Top 100 Trial Lawyers, as well as the 2012 Florida Super Lawyers® for criminal defense representation, and our team boasts a 10.0 Superb Avvo rating. We are diligent, dedicated, and tenacious about our representation of our clients. Our experienced attorneys strive to uncover every weakness in the government’s cases and to construct the strongest defense strategy possible. Musca Law’s record of success both in court and out of the courtroom can speak for itself.
Don’t wait to contact us, as your freedom and livelihood are at stake. Call us today at (888) 484-5057 to for your free, confidential case consultation.