Tampa Sex Crime Defense Lawyers
There is a wide range of offenses in Tampa, Florida, that fall under the broad category of “sex crimes,” although some of the most commonly charged involve allegations of the possession of child pornography, solicitation of a prostitute, and sexual assault. While all of these offenses are considered to be serious crimes, those involving children are investigated and prosecuted the most aggressively.
Child Pornography Lawyers in Tampa
Of all sex crimes, those involving child pornography are perhaps the most well-known. Although most charges involve allegations of mere possession, it is also possible to be charged with distributing, manufacturing, producing, and transmitting child pornography. However, before a person can be convicted of these offenses, prosecutors must demonstrate that the images, photos, or films in question fall under the definition of child pornography, which means that they contain depictions of minors engaging in sexual conduct. As part of the prosecution for possessing, distributing, or producing child pornography, a defendant’s intent must also be demonstrated, as those who are unaware of the contents of an image or who don’t take steps to save a photo or video cannot usually be convicted. It is also not uncommon for those who are accused of one or more child pornography-related crime to be charged with others. For example, those who are accused of manufacturing or distributing child pornography could also be charged with inducing the sexual performance of a child.
Tampa Solicitation Crime Attorneys
Another commonly charged offense is solicitation. In most cases, these charges involve allegations of soliciting a prostitute by entering into a transaction to exchange money for sexual activity. This type of offense is usually treated as a misdemeanor, although charges can be upgraded if the person being solicited was a minor. These types of charges often follow online conversations, where the other party was a police officer involved in an internet sting operation to apprehend those who commit computer sex crimes. Unfortunately, it does not matter that the person being solicited was not actually a minor, as a person can still be charged with soliciting a minor. It is possible, however, to escape conviction by demonstrating that a defendant was entrapped by police.
Child Molestation Lawyers in Tampa
One of Florida’s most serious sex crimes is child molestation, which, under Fla. Stat. 800.04, involves the performance of a lewd or lascivious act upon the body or in the presence of a minor. While certain conduct, such as sexual activity involving penetration by a sexual organ, is automatically considered to be lewd or lascivious conduct, a person can be charged with this offense for inappropriate touching or performing lewd acts in front of a minor. Defendants accused of this offense can defend themselves against the charges but are not permitted to argue that the minor consented to the activity or that he or she lied about his or her age.
Sexual Assault Lawyers in Tampa, Florida
Sexual assault in Florida is prosecuted under the sexual battery law, which prohibits non-consensual intercourse. In many cases, those who are accused of committing sexual assault can be charged in both state and federal court. This is because federal law 10 U.S.C. 920 forbids sexual assault, which is defined as committing a sexual act upon someone else by using threats, causing bodily harm, or fraud. However, defendants who have been unfairly accused can avoid conviction by presenting evidence that the other party willingly and knowingly consented to the contact.
Lewd or Lascivious Crime Lawyers in Tampa
Florida prohibits a wide range of sexually charged conduct when minors are involved, including:
- Lewd or lascivious exhibition of the genitals;
- Lewd or lascivious conduct, which prohibits any type of inappropriate touching.
- Lewd or lascivious battery, which involves engaging in sexual activity with a minor; and
- Lewd or lascivious molestation, which involves inappropriate touching of the genitals.
In addition to this type of conduct, Florida residents are generally prohibited from any type of lewd or lascivious behavior or act, which could include exhibition and sexual assault against both minors and adults.
Sexual Battery Lawyers in Tampa
Sexual battery, like rape and sexual assault, falls under Fla. Stat. 794.011, which prohibits non-consensual vaginal, oral, or anal penetration of another person with a sexual organ or other object. Like other sex crime defenses, a defendant who has been accused of sexual battery is permitted to present evidence demonstrating the other party’s consent.
Indecent Exposure / Exposure of Sexual Organ Lawyers in Tampa
While many people associate sex offenses with crimes like assault or molestation, there are also a variety of less serious offenses that qualify as sex crimes, including indecent exposure. This crime involves publicly displaying one’s sexual organs in a lewd manner or with the intent to cause offense. Intent is one of the most important elements in this type of prosecution, as a person cannot be convicted for indecent exposure unless he or she had a sensual or licentious intent at the time of exposure.
Tampa Voyeurism Lawyers
Another misdemeanor sex offense in Florida is voyeurism, which is prohibited under Fla. Stat. 810.145 and involves intentionally viewing a person while he or she is privately exposing him or herself in a place where that individual could reasonably expect to have privacy. To obtain a conviction, prosecutors must demonstrate that the defendant also had lewd intentions at the time of the viewing.
Potential Defenses Against Sex Crime Charges
No matter what type of sex crime charges you have been charged with, the state of Florida is required to establish proof of each component of the crime if they hope to be able to earn a conviction. At Musca Law, we fully examine and dispute the case that the state feels they have against you. This includes the statement of the alleged victim and any other statements from any witnesses there might have been.
A criminal defense is commonly built around factors such as:
- False accusations;
- False witness testimony;
- Flawed forensic testing techniques and results;
- Police, prosecution, or witness prejudice;
- Mistaken identity or a faulty police line-up; and/or
- Improper misleading witness interviews.
The question of consent is one that is frequently raised during when allegations of a sexual nature are made against someone. Our clients often will admit to engaging in the sexual act but insist that the sex was consensual. Usually, as they are questioned more and more, the story that was told to police and to attorneys by the alleged victim varies as the case moves closer to trial, and the possible outcome of the accusation this person is attempting to levy against you start to become very real.
Sex-related criminal acts that are committed against persons under the age of 18 are what are known as being “strict liability” crimes. This means that no defense you offer up for your actions will be accepted. Even in cases where the minor lied about their age or even offered a fake ID as proof, the adult is still considered guilty. In every single one of these kinds of cases, consent is completely pointless because Florida state law holds an underaged child as being deficient in their ability to understand the situation, and therefore unable to give their consent.
Ultimately, sex crime cases usually come 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 defeated 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, of course, make absolutely certain that you are wholly informed about the outcomes of any agreement that you might make.
Our attorneys seek the outcome that is the most beneficial to 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.
False Accusations of Sex Crimes in Tampa
Bogus allegations of sexual assault, the sexual abuse of a minor or any other form of sexual indecency can happen to just about anyone. Ordinarily, there is an underlying motive prompting the supposed victim to fabricate the lie. Any number of reasons including revenge, malice, and blackmail could be behind the accusations. Some typical reasons for false accusations include but are not limited to:
- Obtain leverage in a child custody battle
- Garner sympathy or attention
- Destroy someone’s reputation
- Punish someone for something they have done
Naturally, there are genuine instances of sexual battery and abuse, but the larger part of inquiries into acts of sexual misconduct does not even end with someone being arrested. Even if you feel that it is apparent to everyone involved that the “victim” is merely engaging in a means to an end, it is vital that you retain an experienced sex crimes criminal defense attorney as soon as you are contacted by law enforcement authorities or by an investigator from child protective services.
Do Not Talk to the Authorities
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 want to question you, then contact a criminal defense attorney before you offer any kind of a response. Know that any comments your attorney provides to the authorities on your behalf are legally disallowed from being used against you in a court of law. This is why it is always a smart idea to only speak to the police through your Tampa sex crimes attorney.
Agree to a Polygraph Test
In the event that you are genuinely innocent, you should give serious consideration to submitting to a confidential lie detector test. It’s true that the results are prohibited from being used as evidence in court, but the state might be less likely to charge you if your results indicate that you are not guilty. If the results are not positive, however, then your attorney will not reveal that fact to anybody. Rather, your attorney might be able to apply those results to building a different, and more suitable defense to your charges.
What to Do If You Are Being Detained or Questioned By Law Enforcement in Tampa
Being retained or questioned by law enforcement can be a frightening and stressful experience. Whether you are being stopped by a police officer on the street or detained at a police station, it is important to know your rights and how to respond to the situation.
The first thing to remember is to stay calm and avoid making any sudden movements or gestures. Keep your hands visible and do not resist or try to flee from the officers. If you are being stopped on the street, ask the officer why you are being stopped and identify yourself if asked. If you are being detained at a police station, ask to speak with an attorney and do not answer any questions until your attorney is present.
It is important to understand your legal rights when being detained or questioned by law enforcement. The U.S. Constitution provides several protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, including the Fourth Amendment which requires that officers have probable cause or a warrant to search or seize your property. You also have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. These rights are commonly referred to as Miranda rights and are read to individuals who are being arrested or taken into custody.
If you are being questioned by law enforcement, you have the right to remain silent and should exercise this right. Anything you say can be used against you in court, so it is best to avoid answering any questions until your attorney is present. You can politely decline to answer questions by saying something like, “I would like to speak with an attorney before answering any questions.”
If you are being detained, it is important to provide your identification and cooperate with the officers. However, you do not have to consent to a search of your person or property without a warrant or probable cause. If the officers ask to search you or your property, you can respectfully decline by saying something like, “I do not consent to a search without a warrant or probable cause.”
It is important to remember that law enforcement officers are trained professionals who are tasked with enforcing the law and keeping the public safe. While there are some bad apples in every profession, most officers are doing their job and want to keep the peace. Treating officers with respect and complying with their requests can help to defuse the situation and prevent any unnecessary escalation.
If you feel that your rights have been violated or you have been subjected to unlawful treatment by law enforcement, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you understand your legal options and can represent you in court if necessary.
Being detained or questioned by law enforcement can be a stressful and intimidating experience. However, by understanding your legal rights and responding calmly and respectfully, you can help to ensure that the situation does not escalate. If you feel that your rights have been violated or you have been subjected to unlawful treatment, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Remember, the Constitution provides important protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, and it is up to each of us to know and assert our rights when necessary.
What Are the Stages of a Criminal Case in Florida
If you are facing criminal charges in Florida, it is important to understand the stages of a criminal case. Each stage of the process has its own requirements and deadlines, and knowing what to expect can help you prepare for the next steps. Here are the stages of a criminal case in Florida.
1. Arrest and Booking
The first stage of a criminal case is the arrest and booking process. This occurs when a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that you have committed a crime. You will be taken into custody and transported to a police station or jail for booking. During the booking process, you will be fingerprinted, photographed, and asked to provide personal information.
2. Initial Appearance
After you are booked, you will have an initial appearance before a judge. This usually occurs within 24 hours of your arrest. At the initial appearance, the judge will inform you of the charges against you, your rights, and the potential penalties if you are convicted. The judge will also determine if you are eligible for bail and set a bail amount if necessary.
The next stage of a criminal case is the arraignment. This is a formal hearing where you will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, the judge will determine your sentence. If you plead not guilty, the case will move on to the next stage.
4. Pretrial Conference
Before the trial, there may be one or more pretrial conferences where the prosecution and defense will discuss the case and attempt to reach a plea agreement. This stage is important for resolving the case before trial and avoiding the time and expense of a trial.
If the case does not settle during pretrial conferences, the case will go to trial. The trial will involve opening statements, witness testimony, and closing arguments. The jury will then deliberate and reach a verdict.
If you are found guilty at trial or plead guilty, the next stage is sentencing. The judge will consider a variety of factors, including the nature of the offense, your criminal history, and any mitigating or aggravating factors. The judge will then determine your sentence, which may include fines, probation, community service, or jail time.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your case, you may have the option to appeal. An appeal involves reviewing the trial record and arguing that errors were made that affected the outcome of the case. The appeals process can be lengthy and expensive, but it can result in a new trial or a reduced sentence.
The stages of a criminal case in Florida can be complex and confusing. Understanding these stages can help you prepare for what to expect and make informed decisions about your case. If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you through each stage of the process and help you achieve the best possible outcome.
How to Choose a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa?
If you are facing criminal charges in Tampa, it is important to have a qualified criminal defense attorney by your side. Choosing the right attorney can be a daunting task, but it is essential for achieving the best possible outcome in your case. Here are some tips for choosing a qualified criminal defense attorney in Tampa.
1. Look for experience
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a criminal defense attorney is their level of experience. Look for an attorney who has experience defending clients in cases similar to yours. An experienced attorney will have a better understanding of the legal system and how to navigate it to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
2. Check for qualifications and credentials
Make sure the attorney you choose is qualified to handle your case. Look for an attorney who is licensed to practice law in Florida and who has a good standing with the Florida Bar Association. You can also check for additional credentials, such as board certification in criminal law, which demonstrates a higher level of expertise in the field.
3. Consider their reputation
The reputation of an attorney can speak volumes about their level of skill and professionalism. Look for an attorney who has a reputation for being knowledgeable, trustworthy, and respected within the legal community. You can research online reviews or ask for referrals from friends or family members who have used a criminal defense attorney in the past.
4. Meet with the attorney
Before hiring a criminal defense attorney, schedule a consultation to meet with them in person. This will give you an opportunity to ask questions and get a sense of their communication style and approach to your case. During the consultation, be sure to ask about their experience, qualifications, and their strategy for defending your case.
5. Look for transparency and honesty
A good criminal defense attorney should be honest and transparent with you about your case. They should be upfront about the potential outcomes and any risks associated with your case. Avoid attorneys who promise a guaranteed outcome or who seem more interested in making a quick buck than defending your rights.
6. Consider their availability and accessibility
It is important to choose an attorney who is available and accessible to you throughout the legal process. Look for an attorney who responds to your calls and emails promptly and who is willing to take the time to explain the legal process and answer your questions.
7. Ask about fees and billing
Make sure you understand the attorney's fee structure and any additional costs associated with your case. Ask about their billing practices and whether they offer payment plans or other options for payment. A good attorney will be transparent about their fees and help you understand your options for financing your legal defense.
Choosing a qualified criminal defense attorney in Tampa can be a challenging task, but it is essential for achieving the best possible outcome in your case. Look for an attorney with experience, qualifications, and a good reputation within the legal community. Schedule a consultation to meet with the attorney in person and ask about their strategy for defending your case. Choose an attorney who is honest, transparent, and accessible, and who is willing to work with you to achieve the best possible outcome. With these tips in mind, you can find a qualified criminal defense attorney who will fight to protect your rights and defend your freedom.
What Questions You Should Ask a Criminal Defense Attorney During Your Free Consultation?
If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to seek the advice and representation of a qualified criminal defense attorney. Many attorneys offer free consultations to potential clients, during which you can discuss your case and determine if they are the right fit for you. Here are some questions to ask during your free consultation to help you find the right criminal defense attorney for your case.
1. What experience do you have with cases like mine?
It is important to find an attorney who has experience handling cases similar to yours. Ask the attorney about their experience with cases like yours and what kind of results they have achieved in those cases. A good criminal defense attorney will have a track record of success in cases similar to yours.
2. What is your approach to handling criminal cases?
Every attorney has a unique approach to handling criminal cases. Some may take a more aggressive approach, while others may focus on negotiation and plea bargaining. Ask the attorney about their approach to handling criminal cases and how they plan to approach your case specifically.
3. How will you keep me informed about the progress of my case?
It is important to find an attorney who will keep you informed about the progress of your case. Ask the attorney how they plan to communicate with you and how often you can expect to hear from them. A good attorney will be responsive and keep you informed throughout the entire legal process.
4. What are the potential outcomes of my case?
It is important to have a realistic understanding of the potential outcomes of your case. Ask the attorney about the potential consequences of a guilty plea or a conviction at trial. They should be able to provide you with an honest assessment of your case and the potential outcomes.
5. What is your fee structure?
Ask the attorney about their fee structure and how they bill for their services. Some attorneys may charge a flat fee for their services, while others may charge an hourly rate. Make sure you understand the fee structure and what is included in the fee before hiring an attorney.
6. What is your success rate in cases like mine?
Ask the attorney about their success rate in cases similar to yours. While past results do not guarantee future success, a good attorney will have a track record of success in cases similar to yours.
7. What is your availability?
It is important to find an attorney who is available to answer your questions and address your concerns. Ask the attorney about their availability and how quickly they typically respond to calls and emails. A good attorney will be responsive and available when you need them.
Choosing the right criminal defense attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. During your free consultation, ask the attorney about their experience, approach, communication style, potential outcomes, fee structure, success rate, and availability. By asking these questions, you can find an attorney who is the right fit for you and who will provide you with the representation you need to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
Always enforce your right to an attorney. If the police wish to interrogate you, contact a criminal defense lawyer from Musca Law and allow our attorneys to give you guidance on the best way for you to respond.
If you have been charged with any form of criminal offense in the Tampa, Florida area it is absolutely essential that you retain qualified legal counsel as soon as you are able to do so. Our Tampa 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 Tampa 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 goal is to get your case thrown out entirely. In the event that a dismissal is not a strong probability, we will work diligently in order to get your criminal charges reduced as much as we possibly can. This will help you to minimize and fines and penalties, avoid a lengthy incarceration in a state prison, and possibly keep you from being legally compelled to register as a sex offender or a sexual predator with the state of Florida.