Victim and other witness testimony can mean the difference between a conviction and an acquittal or not guilty verdict in Florida sex crime cases. The state’s First District Court of Appeals recently took on a unique case that offers one example of the kinds of witness testimony issues that can come up.The defendant was charged with three sex crimes in Florida: lewd or lascivious molestation, lewd or lascivious conduct, and lewd or lascivious exhibition. In the run up to the trial on those charges, a state prosecutor asked the judge for permission to have his eight-year-old alleged victim testify while seated directly in front of the jury. Instead of physically taking the witness stand in the courtroom, the prosecutor wanted to place two chairs in front of the jury box and have them facing the jury.
The defendant’s lawyer objected to the request. He said the victim should at least have to take the stand while being cross-examined by the attorney. The judge ultimately sided with the prosecutors but said the defendant’s lawyer could sit at his table while conducting the cross-examination. The defendant was eventually convicted on all three charges.