Defending Minors And Young Adults

Florida Court Explains Evidentiary Concept of Opening the Door to Otherwise Inadmissible Evidence

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.

Allegedly, the investigating officer testified that none of the evidence collected from the victim contained fetal tissue that could be tested for DNA. The defendant’s attorney questioned the investigating officer further regarding the lack of DNA evidence, and set forth the argument there was no evidence other than the victim’s testimony regarding the alleged sexual relationship. The state then moved to admit evidence the defendant refused to submit to DNA testing. The defendant’s attorney objected but the court permitted the state to introduce the evidence. The defendant was subsequently convicted of all charges, after which he appealed, arguing the trial court erred in permitting the state to introduce evidence of his refusal to submit to DNA testing. On appeal, the court affirmed.

Opening the Door to Evidence

On appeal, the court explained that where one party presents evidence that provides an incomplete picture it “opens the door” to the admission of otherwise inadmissible evidence, to negate any misleading impressions. The concept of opening the door is based in fairness and allows juries to have a complete picture of the evidence in a case. Where, as in the subject case, questions were presented that implied the state chose to believe a victim without conducting a thorough investigation, the court stated that it opened the door for the state to rebut the defendant’s evidence. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Schedule a Consultation with a Seasoned St. Petersburg Sex Crime Defense Attorney

If you live in St. Petersburg and are presently charged with a sex crime, it is in your best interest to retain a seasoned sex crimes defense attorney to help you develop a defense. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a knowledgeable St. Petersburg defense attorney skilled in defending individuals charged with sex crimes and he will work diligently on your behalf.  Contact our offices at 727-897-5413 or through our online form to schedule a consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Court Allows Ineffective Assistance Hearing for Man Convicted of Sex Crimes August 10, 2018, St. Petersburg Sex Crimes Lawyer Blog

Civil Facility Commitment in Florida Sex Crimes Cases June 18, 2018, St. Petersburg Sex Crimes Blog

Appeals Court Shoots Down 139-Year Prison Sentence for Florida Sex Crimes June 4, 2018, St. Petersburg Sex Crimes Blog

Badges