Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

In many instances in which a person is charged with a sex crime, the State’s primary evidence against the person will consist of statements and testimony from the alleged victim. Thus, whether a person is convicted of a sex crime largely depends on whether the judge or jury finds the victim’s account of what occurred to be credible. In many cases, the State may attempt to bolster a victim’s credibility by offering testimony from other witnesses that corroborate the witness’s testimony. While some testimony is admissible, however, testimony regarding prior consistent statements made by the victim to third parties is only admissible in limited circumstances, as discussed in a case in which the defendant was convicted of numerous sex crimes. If you are faced with charges you committed a sex crime in St. Petersburg, it is prudent to speak with a diligent St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to assess what evidence the State may be permitted to use against you.

Factual Background

It is reported that the defendant was charged with numerous sex crimes arising out of allegations of inappropriate contact with the victim, who was his minor daughter. Prior to the arrest, the victim made statements to a school nurse and detectives regarding the alleged contact. During the trial, the victim testified regarding the contact as well, and the State introduced testimony from the detectives and nurse regarding the victim’s prior statements. The defendant was convicted after which he appealed, arguing that the testimony of the nurse and detectives regarding the victim’s prior statements constituted inadmissible hearsay. The State argued the statements were admissible as they were offered to refute the defendant’s allegations regarding the victim’s motives for accusing the defendant of the actions that formed the basis of his charges.

Admissibility of Consistent Prior Statements

Generally, testimony regarding prior consistent statements made by a witness to a third party constitutes inadmissible hearsay and cannot be used to corroborate the witness’s in-court testimony. Prior inconsistent statements are admissible in limited circumstances, however, such as when they fall under an exception to the rule against hearsay or do not actually constitute hearsay. Specifically, a prior consistent statement is not inadmissible hearsay when a declarant testifies at trial and is cross-examined regarding the statement, and the statement is made to rebut a charge of a recent fabrication, improper motive, or undue influence.

Continue Reading ›

One of the many rights afforded criminal defendants by State and Federal law is the right to a speedy trial. In other words, a defendant cannot be arrested and then detained for an unreasonable amount of time prior to being tried, and if a defendant’s right to a speedy trial is violated, the charges against the defendant may be dismissed. In a recent case in which a defendant was charged with sexual battery, a Florida appellate court discussed the factors weighed in determining when an arrest occurred to determine whether the State violated a defendant’s right to a speedy trial. If you are charged with sexual battery or a related offense in St. Petersburg, it is in your best interest to speak to a capable St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney regarding your rights.

Factual Background

It is reported that a woman was sexually assaulted while running in a park in September 2017. Immediately after the incident, the woman advised her husband that the defendant was the assailant, and the husband detained the defendant until the police arrived. Upon arrival, the police questioned the defendant, read him his Miranda warnings, and took him to the police station where he was held in a cell. Additionally, DNA samples were taken from the defendant. The defendant was ultimately released and was formally arrested and charged with sexual battery in November 2018. The defendant then moved to have the charge dismissed, arguing that he was not charged within 175 days of his arrest as required by Florida’s speedy trial law. The court agreed and dismissed the charge, after which the State appealed.

Determining When an Arrest Occurred

Under Florida’s speedy trial law, a defendant must be charged within 175 days of his or her arrest. On appeal, the court noted that a person could be taken into custody for purposes of requiring a Miranda warning, but not for purposes of triggering the speedy trial rule. Rather, for purposes of evaluating if a person was arrested prior to a formal arrest, the court must conduct a four-part test. Specifically, the court must find that the purpose of the authority was to effect an arrest, the defendant was seized, the police officer communicated an intent to effect an arrest to the defendant, and the defendant believes the officer is there to detain and arrest him.

Continue Reading ›

Often, people who are convicted of sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders. Thus, if a person is required to register as a sex offender and fails to do so, it can result in a reconviction of their probation. Recently, an appellate court in Florida analyzed whether the court must explicitly designate a person as a sexual offender for the person to be required to register as a sex offender in a case in which the defendant’s probation was revoked for failing to register. If you are a resident if St. Petersburg currently charged with a sex crime, it is prudent to consult a trusted St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney regarding your options for protecting your interests.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with false imprisonment, aggravated battery, and lewd or lascivious battery, in 2002. The charging information alleged that the defendant engaged in sexual activity with a person between the ages of twelve and sixteen. He pleaded guilty to the aggravated battery and false imprisonment charges, and the State agreed not to prosecute him on the lewd and lascivious battery charge. After the defendant completed his sentence, he was released on probation.

Reportedly, six years later, the defendant was charged with the failure to register as a sexual offender. In response, he filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that he had never been designated as a sexual offender, and an automatic designation without a hearing violated his rights. The court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss, finding there was a sexual component to the underlying claims. The defendant pleaded guilty and reserved his right to appeal the denial of his motion.

Continue Reading ›

In some instances in which a defendant is charged with a sex crime, the defendant’s counsel is able to negotiate an agreement where the person is placed on probation in exchange for a no-contest plea. In any case, where a defendant is sentenced to probation, it is crucial for the defendant to comply with the terms of the probation. If a defendant does not comply with the terms of probation, the probation may be revoked. As demonstrated in a recent case, however, the State must produce sufficient evidence that a defendant violated the terms of his or her probation, in order to obtain a revocation. If you are a resident of St. Petersburg and you are accused of committing a sex crime, it is prudent to meet with a capable St. Petersburg sex crime attorney to discuss what evidence you may be able to offer in your defense.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Probation.

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with lewd or lascivious conduct. He pleaded no contest, after which he was placed on sex offender probation. After he was released from jail, he went to the location approved by his probation officer, which was the home where he lived prior to his arrest. Upon arrival, he learned his wife had sold the home. He was then placed with a sponsor at a second residence, but disliked the location and requested to move.

It is reported that the defendant’s probation officer approved the move but advised the defendant he could not move until his new residence was inspected. The defendant moved regardless. The defendant was then charged with four counts of violating the conditions of his probation. He was convicted on all four charges, after which he appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence to show that he violated two of the conditions in question.

Continue Reading ›

Under Florida law, there are rules establishing what the prosecution is permitted to assert at trial for a sex crime case. If the prosecution violates the rules to the detriment of the defendant, and the defendant is subsequently convicted, the defendant may be entitled to a new trial. The District Court of Appeals of Florida, Second District, discussed when a new trial is warranted because of improper statements, in a case where the defendant was convicted for sexual battery. If you reside in St. Petersburg and are accused of sexual battery, it is sensible to consult an experienced St. Petersburg sex crime attorney to analyze what evidence the State is permitted to use against you at trial.

Evidence Regarding the Alleged Offense and Trial

It is reported that the defendant was charged with sexual battery with a deadly weapon. During the trial, the victim testified that she saw the defendant walking on the side of the road and gave him a ride. She also stated that later in the evening, the defendant held a knife against her neck and forced her to engage in sexual intercourse. She underwent a medical examination during which a DNA swab identified the defendant’s semen. The defendant testified, however, that his sexual encounter with the victim was consensual, and he denied holding a knife to her neck.

Allegedly, during closing arguments, the prosecution stated that the defendant engaged in spaghetti throwing, in that he was throwing out defenses to see what would stick, used smoke and mirror tactics, and likened the defense arguments to an abusive relationship.  The jury convicted the defendant of sexual battery, which was a lesser-included offense. The defendant subsequently filed a motion for a new trial due to improper statements made by the prosecution in its closing.

Continue Reading ›

Advances in technology over the past several decades have vastly changed the manner in which criminal cases are prosecuted and defended. For example, in many criminal cases, the prosecution will seek to introduce DNA evidence to establish the defendant’s guilt. Defendants can introduce DNA evidence as well, but only under certain circumstances. The District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District, recently discussed the parameters for a defendant’s right to post-conviction DNA testing in a case in which the defendant appealed his convictions for multiple sex crimes. If you live in St. Petersburg and are charged with one or more sex crimes, it is prudent to meet with a knowledgeable St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to discuss what evidence you may be able to set forth in your defense.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with sexual battery on a victim under twelve years old and lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim under eighteen years old. The alleged victim was the defendant’s stepdaughter. At trial, the victim testified that when she was ten years old, the defendant came into her room at night and touched her genitals with his hand and genitals. She also testified that the defendant hit her on the leg with a belt and that she still had a mark from when he hit her. Lastly, the victim testified that the defendant threatened to beat her if she reported his behavior to anyone.

Reportedly, the defendant was found guilty of both charges and was sentenced to life in prison for the sexual battery charge and fifty-five years imprisonment for the lewd and lascivious molestation charge. He filed multiple post-conviction motions, all of which were denied. He then filed a motion for post-conviction DNA testing. The court denied his motion, and he appealed.

Continue Reading ›

In many instances in which a person is charged with a sex crime, the person will choose to enter into a plea agreement rather than proceed to trial. Under the terms of a plea agreement, the defendant will either enter a guilty plea or plea of no contest to the charged offenses in exchange for a lesser sentence. In a recent case arising out of the District Court of Appeals of Florida, First District, the court discussed whether the State’s involuntary commitment for sex offender treatment of a defendant who was convicted of sexual battery violated the plea agreement. If you are faced with charges of sexual battery it is critical to retain a proficient St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to help you determine the best manner to proceed in your case.

Procedural Background of the Case

Reportedly, in 2002, the defendant was charged with sexual battery. He entered into a plea agreement by which he was convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment followed by five years of sex offender probation. Following his release from prison in 2009, he was transferred to a Civil Commitment Center under the direction of the Department of Children and Families. The defendant then admitted to violating his probation in 2013 and was sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment. The defendant appealed, arguing that his civil commitment was an enhancement to his sentence and therefore violated both his plea agreement and double jeopardy. Additionally, he argued that as he remained confined his probation never began and the State, therefore, had no right to revoke his probation.

Civil Commitment of Sex Offenders

On appeal, the court affirmed the revocation of the defendant’s probation. The court stated that under Florida law, involuntary commitment of a person convicted of a sex crime is a civil commitment and not a punishment. Therefore, a plea agreement for imprisonment followed by probation is not violated if the defendant is committed to a sex offender facility following his or her imprisonment. The court explained that the Florida Supreme Court explicitly rejected the argument that a civil commitment was an additional term of probation. Continue Reading ›

Typically, hearsay statements are prohibited from being introduced at a criminal trial by either the State of the defendant. There are some exceptions to the general rule, however, such as when the hearsay is testimony of a child victim in a sex crime case. A Florida appellate court recently reviewed the standards for the admission of child victim hearsay, in a case in which the defendant was charged with sexual battery and molestation. If you are charged with sexual battery or any other sex crime it is vital to meet with an assertive St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to discuss what evidence the State may be able to use against you at trial.

Factual and Procedural Background

Allegedly, the nine-year-old victim told adults at her school that she had sex with the defendant, who was her step-father. She also reported that the defendant raped her that morning. She was subsequently referred to a child protection team, who conducted a recorded forensic interview. During the interview the victim repeated that she had sex with the defendant and that he raped her and explained that he penetrated her. A sexual assault examination was conducted, and the test results revealed the defendant’s DNA was on the child’s anal area. The defendant was charged with one count of sexual battery and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation.

It is reported that prior to the trial, the victim recanted. Specifically, she testified during a deposition that she did not know what rape meant and that the defendant did not touch her private part with his private part. She also stated that she loved the defendant more than her own father and would do anything to protect her family, including kill. Prior to trial, the State moved to introduce the hearsay statements the victim made at school. The court denied the motion, finding that the statements were unreliable. The State sought certiorari review of the court’s order.

Continue Reading ›

Double jeopardy is a term many people have heard but most people do not fully understand. In sum, double jeopardy means that you cannot be convicted more than once for the same crime. While double jeopardy is straightforward in theory, it can be complicated in Florida criminal cases involving solicitation of a minor for unlawful sexual activity. Recently, the District Court of Appeals of Florida, Third District, explained the nuances of double jeopardy in a solicitation case and ultimately vacated the defendant’s solicitation conviction. If you are charged with solicitation of a minor for unlawful activity or any other sex crime you should speak with an experienced St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to discuss your options.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that during an undercover investigation, agents who worked for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) placed an ad on a classified site that said a mother was trying to find men to engage in sexual activity with her thirteen-year-old daughter, and provided the mother’s purported email address and the mother and daughter’s names. The defendant sent an email to the address listed in the ad, and over the next two days engaged in sexually explicit emails with a DHS agent posing as the mother. The emails specifically stated that the defendant was responding to the ad that offered sex with a minor.

Reportedly, the defendant made plans to meet the agent and her “daughter” at the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. When the defendant arrived, he was arrested. He was subsequently charged with using a computer to solicit the parent of a child to consent to the child’s participation in sexual activity and traveling to meet a child for unlawful sexual activity that was facilitated by the child’s parent following solicitation. The defendant was convicted on both counts, after which he appealed, arguing that the dual convictions violated double jeopardy.

Continue Reading ›

In Florida sex crime cases, the defendant is permitted to enter whatever plea he or she chooses. In some cases, a defendant may choose to plead guilty, in exchange for a reduced sentence or penalty. While a defendant is free to enter any plea he or she chooses at the outset of a sex crime case, changing a plea at later stages of the case can be very difficult.

In a recent Florida appellate case, the court ruled that a defendant who pleaded guilty to sex crimes did not meet the burden of proof required to show he should be permitted to change his plea following sentencing. If you are charged with a sex crime in St. Petersburg, it is in your best interest to meet with a capable St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and available defenses.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Alleged Crime

Reportedly, the defendant engaged in sexual activity with his 13-year-old stepdaughter. He was charged with sexual battery by a person in familial authority and lewd or lascivious molestation. He pleaded guilty to the charges in exchange for concurrent terms of time served to be followed by sex offender probation. Following his sentencing, however, the defendant filed a motion to withdraw his plea, due to the fact that he was not advised that he would be subject to electronic monitoring as part of his probation. The trial court denied his motion, after which the defendant appealed.

Continue Reading ›

Contact Information