Stuart Sex Crime Defense Lawyers
All criminal offenses are considered serious in Florida. Sex crimes, however, tend to be investigated and prosecuted aggressively, so those who have been charged with a sex crime should strongly consider retaining an experienced Stuart sex crime defense attorney who is well-versed in state law and will aggressively protect their rights and interests.
Stuart Internet and Computer Sex Crimes Defense Attorney
Florida law criminalizes a wide range of behavior that falls under the category of “sex crimes.” This applies equally to offenses committed in-person by a defendant and those committed online, one of the most common of which involves the possession or transmission of child pornography, which is prohibited under Fla. Stat. 847.0135. This statute prohibits the manufacturing, buying, selling, possessing, and transmitting of images that qualify as child pornography, which is defined as any image that depicts a minor engaging in sexual conduct. Defendants who are accused of viewing this type of image can be charged with a third-degree felony for each image in their possession, but those who are charged with sharing those images with another person, face enhanced second-degree felony charges, which could mean up to 15 years imprisonment for each image transmitted. In fact, if a person has three or more copies of the same image, video, or depiction in his or her possession, then that individual is presumed to have intended to distribute those materials.
Being convicted of possessing child pornography is a serious offense and requires defendants to register as sex offenders. Fortunately, there are a number of defenses that innocent defendants can raise on their own behalf, including that:
- The activity depicted in the images doesn’t qualify as sexual conduct;
- The images were downloaded and viewed by another user or the computer’s previous owner;
- The individuals depicted in the images were not minors; and
- The images were the product of an illegal search or seizure that violated the defendant’s constitutional rights.
These cases almost always require the assistance of a forensic computer expert who can prove how and when the images were downloaded.
The possession of child pornography is not the only computer sex offense with which a person can be charged, as Florida law also prohibits online solicitation of a sex worker using the internet. An exchange of money or other types of compensation does not actually have to be made for a person to be convicted of this offense. Instead, prosecutors only need to prove that an offer of compensation in exchange for a sexual act was made. This kind of offense is usually charged as a misdemeanor but can be enhanced to a felony if the person solicited was a minor, even if the defendant was not aware of that individual’s age.
Stuart Sexual Battery Attorney
When a person is accused of rape or sexual assault, he or she is charged under Fla. Stat. 794.011, which prohibits non-consensual oral, vaginal, or anal penetration with a sexual organ or other object. It is also possible to be charged with aggravated sexual battery, but only if:
- The other party was unconscious, asleep, or physically unable to resist or consent to the sexual act;
- The defendant allegedly coerced the other party by threatening violence or retaliation;
- The alleged victim was unknowingly drugged with an anesthetic, narcotic, or intoxicant, which caused him or her to become physically or mentally incapacitated;
- The alleged victim had a known mental defect;
- The defendant was an officer of the law, or someone else in a position of authority;
- The victim was physically incapacitated; or
- The defendant used physical force or a weapon during the attack.
Sexual battery is a felony charge, although the penalties that a defendant faces depends on the relative ages of the defendant and the victim. Aggravated sexual battery is no different, in that defendants who are accused of assaulting someone over the age of 18 years old face first-degree felony charges, while those who allegedly assaulted someone between the ages of 12 and 18 years old could face life imprisonment.
With so much at stake, it is critical for defendants who are accused of rape, sexual assault, or sexual battery to raise a strong defense. One of the strongest arguments that a defendant can use to avoid conviction is that the other party consented to the sexual activity. However, for consent to be considered valid, it must have been knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently given, which means that verbal consent isn’t enough on its own if the victim was intoxicated or drugged. Similarly, just because a person didn’t physically resist during the sexual activity, does not mean that he or she consented.
To learn more about defending yourself against sexual battery charges, please contact an experienced Stuart sex crime defense attorney who can assist you.
Voyeurism deals with the criminal behavior of surreptitiously watching another person in a private environment, most commonly due to sexual curiosity or for sexual satisfaction. In accordance with Florida laws, the crime of voyeurism has taken place anytime someone who has indecent, obscene, or immoral intentions, secretly spies on:
- Somebody else who is in a private residence, building, or vehicle and their chosen whereabouts offer a fair expectation of privacy
- Somebody else’s private areas that are clothed in such a way that demonstrates a reasonable expectation of privacy
The term private areas are described as the part of someone’s anatomy or of their under-things that is obscured by clothing and obviously meant to be hidden from the view of the public
Penalties for Voyeurism
Your first voyeurism offense is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor and is punishable by as long as one full year in county jail, one additional year of state-supervised probation, and a fine of as much as $1,000.
If you are found guilty of the crime of voyeurism, the judge can order you to serve any amount of jail time, administrative fines, and probation. On top of that, voyeurism is different from the majority of other crimes because any person who is found guilty will have earned themselves a lifelong criminal record and will never be permitted to seal their criminal record.
Voyeurism with Prior Convictions
Anybody with two or more previous convictions for voyeurism can be charged with voyeurism with prior convictions if they are ever convicted for the third time. Voyeurism with prior convictions is a third-degree felony that can carry a sentence of as long as five years in state prison, five additional years of state supervised probation, and a fine of as much as $5,000.
Following the guidelines that are set out by Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, the offense of voyeurism with prior convictions is a criminal act that has a severity rating of Level One and the judge is able to sentence anyone who is found guilty of voyeurism with prior convictions to state-supervised probation.
Defenses to Voyeurism
Along with all of the pretrial and trial arguments that could be brought up in any criminal trial, there are some very unique defenses for the act of voyeurism. These defenses include:
No Expectation of Privacy
It is completely legal for someone to watch another person who is in any stage of disrobing when that person has no reasonable expectation of privacy. An example of this would be when someone goes naked on a beach that allows it.
Security Surveillance Systems
It is also completely legal to watch somebody from another location entirely by employing the use of a video monitoring system or security system as long as a warning about the system is clearly located on the property and notifies people that a video monitoring system is currently in use, or if the video monitoring system is installed in such a way that it makes itself instantly known. It is also illegal for a shopkeeper, however, to purposefully film and/or watch his patrons, without their consent, in a fitting room or bathroom stall that is designed to offer the patron a bit of privacy.
Florida law defines consent as “intelligent, knowing, and voluntary consent and does not include coerced submission.” The law specifically asserts that the word is not to be judged or interpreted to indicate the omission of an alleged victim to put up physical opposition to the supposed offender. In other words, not being told no is not the same thing as being told yes.
The legal age of consent in the state of Florida is 18 years of age, even though Florida’s Romeo and Juliet law does permit those as young as 16 years of age to lawfully agree to engage in sexual acts with someone else who is no older than 23 years of age. Consent is frequently a primary issue in many alleged sex crime offenses because the supposed offenders think that they are not able to be held criminally liable if the alleged victim agreed to sexual activity.
Sexual battery, more commonly referred to as rape, is the unlawful sexual offense that most regularly includes debates about whether or not consent was ever given. The definition of consent is laid out in the sexual battery laws and is characterized as “intelligent, knowing, and voluntary consent.”
In other words, the alleged victim, at the time of the sexual act, was in control of their mental faculties, was not under the control of alcohol or any illegal substance, was aware of what they were agreeing to, and did so of their own free will and without any control exerted by the alleged offender or by any other person.
When there is a disparity between the victim and the offender about whether a sexual rendezvous was or was not consensual, an inquiry might be able to help the offender ascertain proof of consent or at least offer up facts that are not contradictory to having casual sex.
Some of the concerns that may be examined include but are not limited to :
- The statement of any witnesses who observed the alleged offender or victim prior to or following the event in question;
- The time it took for the victim to file a police report if they ever bothered to file one at all
- The examination of any comments made on any social media platforms
If a jury has any uncertainty about whether or not the victim agreed to the sexual encounter, it is obligated to find the offender not guilty.
Potential Defenses Against Sex Crime Charges
A criminal defense against charges of a sexual nature is usually based on aspects of the case like:
- False accusations
- False witness testimony
- Flawed forensic testing techniques and results
- Police, prosecution, or witness prejudice
- Mistaken identity or a faulty police line-up
- Improper misleading witness interviews
Sex-related criminal acts that are perpetrated against minors are regarded as being sanctioned strict liability crimes. In all of these types of cases, consent is entirely irrelevant because Florida state law considers an underaged child as being incapable of understanding, and therefore giving, their consent.
Ultimately, sex crime cases usually boil down to which person’s account of the events that took place is more convincing. In most cases, there is always an occasion to demonstrate to the prosecutor that justice would be better served by creating a lesser charge and/or reducing the proposed sentence. If it is determined that the state’s argument does not support the accusations against you, then the charges against you will quite possibly be dropped or at least reduced at trial.
If it becomes necessary in a sex crimes case, our attorneys will consider whether or not agreeing to a plea bargain might actually be the best thing for your situation. We would, of course, make absolutely certain that you are wholly informed about the outcomes of any agreement that you might make.
Without exception, our attorneys will seek the most beneficial outcome for you, no matter what the circumstances of your case happen to be. We will also see to it that you understand everything that we are doing and everything that is happening every step of the way as we move forward with your case. Do not hesitate to call our law office today to schedule a free, obligation-free, and confidential case assessment with one of our experienced attorneys.