Florida Court Discusses the Use of Expert Evidence in Criminal Matters

While they do not have an obligation to do so, criminal defendants can introduce expert testimony in their defense. Such evidence must meet certain qualifications to be admissible, however, which means in part that it must be relevant. In a recent matter in which the defendant’s conviction for child pornography crimes was upheld, a court explained when a defendant’s motion to present expert testimony should be denied. If you are accused of a sex crime, it is advisable to confer with a Florida sex crime defense attorney to assess what evidence you may be able to introduce in your defense.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and her boyfriend had two minor children together. The boyfriend was a pedophile, and when he was away from home, the defendant would send him naked images and videos of their daughters. The defendant was charged with possessing and producing child pornography. During her trial, she moved to introduce expert testimony related to her intellectual disability from a psychologist. The court denied her motion. She was subsequently convicted, after which she appealed.

Admissibility of Evidence in Favor of the Defendant

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court’s refusal to allow her to introduce expert testimony regarding her disability shattered her defense and therefore violated her constitutional rights. The court rejected her reasoning, noting that her expert’s testimony was not connected to any theory of defense that was accepted under the law. As such, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

The court explained that the constitution guarantees people charged with criminal offenses the right to present a complete defense. The right is not absolute, however. Instead, any evidence that is privileged, incompetent, or inadmissible for other reasons may be precluded. In other words, the right to introduce relevant evidence can be limited if there is a valid reason for doing so.

The court further noted that a policy that aims at preventing the use of misleading or unreliable expert evidence in criminal matters is not arbitrary, and a defendant that argues her constitutional rights have been violated must show a strong reason the expert witness rules should not apply. In the subject case, the court found that the defendant failed to present such a reason, as she did not show how the evidence that she wanted to introduce would negate the element of intent or provide anything more than a justification for her actions instead of a legally acceptable defense. As such, it affirmed the trial court ruling,

Speak to an Assertive Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

Sex crimes involving children carry significant penalties, and convictions for such crimes can result in permanent damage to your rights and reputation. If you are charged with possession of child pornography or any other sex crime, it is smart to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The assertive St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys of Hanlon Law are well-versed in what it takes to obtain favorable outcomes in sex crime cases, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us at 727-897-5413 or via the form online to set up a conference.


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