Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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It is important for any defendant who pleads guilty to or is convicted of a crime to understand how previous convictions for sex crimes may be weighed against him or her. In the Florida courts, prior to sentencing, a Presentence Investigation Report (PSI) is issued, setting forth a defendant’s criminal and personal history. The PSI aides judges in determining an appropriate sentence. It is essential that the court accurately understand information in a PSI, as an incorrect assessment of prior convictions can result in an inappropriate sentence.

This was illustrated in a recent Florida appellate court case, where the court found that the trial court committed an error of law in requiring a defendant to register as a sex offender and imposing a greater than guideline sentence due to a misunderstanding of the information in the PSI and the applicable law. If you were previously convicted of a sex crime and currently face criminal charges in St. Petersburg, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced St. Petersburg sex crimes defense attorney as soon as possible.

Defendant’s Sentencing Hearing

Purportedly, the defendant pled guilty to bank robbery and taking a hostage during a bank robbery. Prior to his sentencing, a PSI was issued that included information regarding the defendant’s prior adjudication as a juvenile for sexual misconduct. The sexual misconduct conviction was based on the defendant allegedly forcing a seven-year-old girl to have oral sex with him when he was thirteen.

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Under Florida law, you do not have to actually commit a crime to be convicted of an offense. Rather, a person can be found guilty for a criminal attempt if he or she takes any action toward the commission of the offense but is prevented from actually executing the crime.  While a defendant can be charged with an attempt to commit numerous crimes, attempt charges frequently arise in cases involving sex crimes.

The standard of what is necessary to prove an attempted sex crime was recently clarified by a Florida Court of Appeals in Berger v. State, a case involving a conviction for attempted sexual battery. The Berger ruling enlarged the definition of an overt act in cases involving attempted sex crimes, potentially exposing defendants to a higher risk of conviction. If you are charged with an attempted sex crime in St. Petersburg, it is important to retain an experienced St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney who is adept at navigating the criminal court system and can assist you in preparing your defense.

Factual Background

Allegedly, the defendant engaged in online communication with an undercover police officer who purported to be a man trying to engage a person to teach his minor daughter about sex, as part of an operation to catch child predators. The defendant indicated specific sexual acts he intended to commit on the child and discussed the logistics of traveling to visit the child. The defendant then drove to what he believed to be the child’s residence and knocked on the door, after which he was arrested. He was subsequently charged with and convicted of attempt to commit sexual battery on a person under twelve years old. Defendant appealed his conviction on the grounds he did not commit an overt act towards the commission of the crime. On appeal, the court affirmed his conviction.

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There are many types of sex crimes under Florida law. One of those is video voyeurism. Video voyeurism is when someone secretly records another person in an intimate state, generally for the sexual gratification purposes. Your skilled St. Petersburg sex crimes criminal defense attorney can help you understand what the potential penalties may be for a video voyeurism conviction.

Requirements for a Video Voyeurism Conviction

Like all criminal laws, the prosecution must prove that the defendant’s actions met all the elements of the statute in order to get a conviction. In order to prove that the defendant committed video voyeurism, one thing the prosecution must show is that the offense was committed with the aid of an imaging device. It also requires that the defendant intentionally used the imaging device to secretly view someone taking off their clothes or privately exposing their body in a place where the person being recorded had a reasonable expectation of privacy. It is also video voyeurism when a defendant uses a recording device to took under or through someone’s clothes.

Video Voyeurism and Evidence

In order to prove that a defendant is guilty of video voyeurism, like with all other charges, the prosecution must use evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, there are specific laws that police and the court must follow in order for evidence to be admissible at trial. If evidence is obtained illegally, it is not permitted to be shown to the jury. A case recently heard by the Florida Second District Court of Appeal, the court looked at video evidence in a video voyeurism case.

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The Sixth Amendment includes what is referred to as the “Confrontation Clause.” The Confrontation Clause gives criminal defendants the right to confront their accusers. Generally this means that defendant’s counsel can cross examine any witnesses for the state. However, there are some cases where an accuser may be permitted to testify remotely instead of being in the courtroom. One situation where this is somewhat common is in sex crimes cases. Your experienced St. Petersburg sex crimes attorney can help you understand how the Confrontation Clause applies in your situation.

Confrontation Clause

As noted above, the Supreme Court has interpreted the confrontation clause to mean that there is a preference for face-to-face testimony. However, this preference will occasionally be set aside when there are significant public policy and/or other reasons for a victim not to appear in person. For example, child witnesses where the trauma of facing their alleged assailant in court would make their testimony unreliable.

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