Court Discusses Right to Post-Conviction DNA Testing in Florida Criminal Cases

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.

Admissibility of DNA Evidence

Under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.835, a motion for post-conviction testing requires, in part, that the moving party specify how the DNA testing of each item the party wishes to test would give rise to a reasonable likelihood of acquittal or a lesser sentence. In the subject case, the defendant requested that all the items the State collected, including bed sheets, underwear, and clothes, undergo testing, to “clear his name.”

He did not explain in any detail, though, how the testing of the listed items would increase the probability that he would be acquitted. Rather, he merely stated that there might be fluids present on some of the items. As the court found that the defendant did not establish that DNA testing would create a reasonable likelihood that he would be acquitted, the court found that the defendant failed to meet his burden, and affirmed the lower court’s denial of his motion.

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Sex crime cases often rely on circumstantial evidence, and when direct evidence, such as the results of DNA testing, is available, it may exculpate a defendant. If you are charged with a sex crime in St. Petersburg, it is prudent to speak with an experienced St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to discuss the circumstances surrounding your arrest and what defenses you may be able to argue. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is an assertive criminal defense attorney who will zealously advocate in your favor to help you seek the best legal outcome available under the facts of your case. You can reach Mr. Hanlon at 727-897-5413 or via the form online to set up a meeting to discuss your case.

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