Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

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

In prosecuting a defendant for an alleged sex crime, the State is only permitted to use evidence that was lawfully obtained. As such, any evidence that was obtained during an unlawful search should be suppressed. While there are exceptions to this exclusionary rule, such as the inevitable discovery doctrine, they only apply in limited circumstances.

A Florida appellate court recently discussed the standard for allowing evidence to be introduced via the inevitable discovery doctrine, in a case in which evidence of child pornography was found during an unlawful search. If you are charged with a sex crime in St. Petersburg, it is prudent to meet with a capable St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to discuss your case and available defenses.

Facts Regarding the Police Investigation

Reportedly, the police were conducting a child pornography investigation based on information that an individual was sharing child pornography via the Ares network from a specific IP address. The police got a search warrant to obtain the IP address information, which showed that the IP address was associated with a business which allowed users to connect to a wireless network. The police visited the business on several occasions. During one visit, the defendant was the only patron and logged on using a name similar to the name used to share child pornography.

Continue reading

If the state or government believes a person tried to lure a minor to engage in a sexual relationship, the person can be charged with attempt to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, which is a crime, despite the fact that no actual contact between the person and minor ever occurred. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently evaluated what constituted sufficient evidence of an attempt to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity in a case arising out of a Florida District Court. If you live in St. Petersburg and are charged with a sex crime, it is wise to meet with a St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to discuss the charges you face and the evidence the state may use against you.

The Defendant’s Alleged Crimes and Conviction

It is alleged the defendant had online communications with an undercover agent posing as a 13-year-old girl. The defendant and the agent communicated through multiple social media applications, where the agent used the name JMK. The conversations were graphic and sexually explicit. The defendant stated that he liked that JMK was young and described the sexual acts he wanted to perform with JMK. The defendant also sent JMK pornographic videos and pictures, including child pornography, and asked her if she wanted to perform the acts depicted in the videos. He also frequently told JMK he was old enough to be her father.

Reportedly, the defendant then stated he wanted to be with JMK regardless of whether her mother was home and stated he did not care what society thought. They began discussing the defendant traveling to Florida to have sex with JMK and the details of his visit. The defendant never traveled to Florida but was arrested at his home once the agent determined his identity. He was charged with multiple crimes, including attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, which he appealed arguing there was insufficient evidence to prove he took substantial acts towards the offense.

Continue reading

As with all criminal defendants, a defendant who is charged with sex crimes is protected by the rule against double jeopardy, which protects defendants from multiple convictions for the same criminal act. The Supreme Court of Florida recently addressed the issue of whether convictions for the unlawful use of a communication device and use of a computer to solicit a minor were based upon the same conduct as traveling after solicitation of a minor and violated double jeopardy. If you are a St. Petersburg resident and are facing charges of a sex crime, it is in your best interest to meet with an experienced St. Petersburg sex crimes defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss available defenses to the charges you face.

Alleged Facts

Reportedly, the defendant placed an ad on a website, seeking a casual sexual encounter with a male under 25 years old. An investigator responded to the ad on the suspicion that it was an attempt to solicit a minor. The investigator informed the defendant he was a 14-year-old boy. Over the following two weeks, the “boy” and the defendant exchanged emails in which the defendant suggested that they engage in sexual activity. The defendant then asked the “boy” to meet in person. When the defendant arrived at the agreed upon location, he was arrested. Medication to treat erectile dysfunction was found in his van.

The defendant was charged with: traveling after solicitation of a minor to engage in sexual acts; solicitation of a minor; and use of a two-way communication device to facilitate the commission of a felony. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the charges, arguing that the charges of solicitation of a minor and unlawful use of a communication device violated double jeopardy. The court denied the motion and the case proceeded to trial. The defendant was convicted of all charges, after which he appealed.

Continue reading

While no criminal charges should be taken lightly, a conviction for a sex crime can result in a lifelong designation as a sexual predator. While there are laws in Florida that require a mandatory sexual offender designation in certain circumstances, the laws also allow for the Florida Parole Commission to impose sexual predator restrictions based on its discretion.

This was demonstrated in a recent case decided by a Florida appellate court, where the court found that sexual predator conditions imposed on a defendant were proper, even though he was not a sexual predator under the statutory guidelines. If you are a resident of St. Petersburg and are currently charged with a sex crime, it is essential to retain the services of a skilled St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney, to aid you in your fight to retain your liberties and protect your future.

Facts Regarding Defendant’s Sex Crime Charges and Conviction

Reportedly, in 1997 the defendant entered a plea to charges of fondling a minor under the age of sixteen and sexual battery. The stipulated year of his offenses was 1991. The trial court designated the defendant a sexual predator. The designation was subsequently reversed, however, based on the appellate court’s finding that the Florida sexual predator statute applied only to a conviction for sex crimes committed on or after October 1, 1993.

Continue reading

In all sex crime cases, the state bears the burden of proving that a defendant committed a crime. In pointing out the weaknesses in the state’s case at trial, however, it is essential to consider how any question posed to the state’s witnesses will affect what evidence the state can introduce in rebuttal.

For example, a Florida district court recently ruled that a defendant “opened the door” to questioning regarding his refusal to submit to a DNA test, where the defendant’s attorney questioned the state’s witnesses regarding DNA evidence.  If you live in St. Petersburg and are facing charges of a sex crime, you should retain a seasoned St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to help you analyze any evidence the state can introduce against you and preclude any evidence that should not be admitted.

Charges and Trial Testimony

It is reported that the state charged the defendant with capital sexual battery, lewd or lascivious molestation, attempted capital sexual battery, and false imprisonment, for his alleged sexual relationship with a 10-year-old girl. At the trial, the alleged victim’s mother testified that the victim had two positive pregnancy tests, after which she informed her mother and grandmother of sexual activity between her and the defendant. The victim testified regarding the defendant’s alleged sexual activity with her at the trial as well. A doctor who examined the victim in the emergency room for a possible miscarriage testified that she tested negative for the pregnancy hormone, which she should test positive for if she was pregnant, but the doctor admitted he had never examined a potentially pregnant 10-year-old.

Continue reading

If you are charged with a sex crime, it is important to understand what evidence the state will attempt to use against you. Evidence that is obtained via an unreasonable search may be precluded, but proving a search is unreasonable can be difficult, and it is important to understand what constitutes an unreasonable search.

A Florida court recently clarified when a warrantless search is valid, in a case in which they permitted the state to admit evidence found in the defendant’s home absent a warrant. If you face sex crime charges in St. Petersburg, it is in your best interest to meet with a skilled St. Petersburg sex crimes defense attorney who will vigorously fight to preclude evidence obtained without a valid search warrant.

Evidence Against the Defendant

Allegedly, the police began investigating the defendant after a woman contacted the police department and reported the defendant was having sex with the woman’s sister, who was a minor. A child protective team interviewed the minor, who explained that she and the defendant exchanged sexual messages through text, and via two different messaging applications, and eventually began a sexual relationship. The police found messages on the minor’s phone from the defendant in one application, but could not retrieve messages from the other application. The police then obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s phone.

Continue reading