If you or somebody you know has been charged with sexual battery, they will need a proper and excellent defense lawyer. If you fail to secure sound legal counsel, the rest of your life and freedom could be impacted.
Besides the basic definition of what all sexual battery entails, different law meanings can significantly impact who is tried for this type of crime. Knowing your rights and the proper steps to take is critical in your defense against sexual battery charges.
People often misconstrue the meaning of consent, thinking it can be negotiated on many different terms. And although in healthy relationships, this might be the case, it usually is not the same when it comes to sexual battery charges.
Voluntary consent does not mean being coerced into any sexual act against another person’s will. In fact, ‘consent’ should not be deemed or even construed to indicate the alleged victim’s failure to offer physical resistance against the offender.
Trying to establish whether consent was given or not is the hardest part of any sexual battery charge. Some factors need to be considered, such as the level of intoxication or age of the victim, before determining whether a person can consent.
Often, the said ‘victim’ has claimed to have changed their mind during the event. When this happens, it is quite challenging to establish whether the consent took place before the alleged crime or was reversed during the actual, alleged sexual battery. The intentions of the victim are often unclear and need to be investigated.
Proving Sexual Battery Took Place
In the State of Florida, a state prosecutor must prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the crime of sexual battery took place and that consent was not given to the defendant.
In order to prove this, the following must be established:
- The accused party penetrated the alleged victim either vaginally, anally, orally, or with some type of sexual organ or object, or the defendant engaged in a union between his sex organ and the alleged victim’s vagina, anus, or mouth; and
- There was absolutely no consent to this sexual act. However, if the victim should be under the age of 12 years old, then there is a presumption of the lack of consent.
Means For Enhanced Sentencing
If the alleged crime victim was coerced, threatened, or physically incapacitated, the defendant could face aggravated charges with the possibility of an enhanced sentence. This is also true if the victim was mentally ill at the time of the alleged sexual battery.
Here are other circumstances that can impact the defendant’s case drastically:
Mentally Defective: When somebody has a mental disease or some type of defect that renders them temporarily or even permanently incapable of appraising the nature of their conduct, it is considered mentally defective.
When choosing a partner to have intimate relations with and not having very much background information or very little knowledge of the individual’s mental capacity, it can often result in sexual battery charges. Some forms of mental issues can include memory loss, such as an individual considered schizophrenic.
Mentally Incapacitated: When an individual cannot temporarily control their conduct due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, narcotics, etc., that were administered without their consent are considered to be mentally incapacitated. This also includes any other act that was committed to that person during this time without their permission.
Physically Helpless: Being physically helpless simply means the victim was unconscious, asleep, or for any other reason, physically unable to communicate their consent to any action taking place against them.
Physically Incapacitated: This applies to any individual that might be disabled or bodily impaired and is substantially limited in the ability to resist another person or flee from the site of the alleged crime.
The Sentence For Sexual Battery
When somebody is convicted of sexual battery charges, then the sentence will be determined by their case’s specific facts. Below will give you a general guideline as to what the maximum penalties are for different situations.
However, the actual sentence will depend on the circumstances of the case, which could include additional enhancements for sexual contact, sexual penetration, any injuries incurred at the time of the sexual battery, and any prior records for sexual battery.
Here are the general guidelines that the State of Florida follows:
First Degree (up to 30 years in state prison) – Includes sexual battery with aggravating factors and sexual battery on a child from the age of 12 to 17 years old.
Second Degree (up to 15 years in state prison) – The victim was at least 18 years old or older, and there were zero aggravating factors.
Life Felony (life imprisonment) – Sexual battery with a deadly weapon on a child who was at least 12 years old or older will include life imprisonment.
Life Felony (life in state prison with no chance of early release) – Sexual battery on any child under the age of 12 years old.
Any person who is convicted of a sexual battery normally has to register as a sex offender. This, in turn, means that if convicted, this particular act can follow you for the rest of your life and be made visibly known to the general public.
However, depending on your defense team, you might be able to enter into a plea bargain and negotiate to protect your name and future from this being made publicly known forever. Again, hiring a good defense lawyer will give you the best odds of getting that plea bargain.
Lewd Sexual Battery
Lewd sexual battery is defined as the act of touching a victim in a vulgar way when they are under the age of 16 years old. It also includes soliciting a person to commit a sensual act. This crime can carry one to two felonies, depending on the age of the offender.
If the offender is 18 years of age or older, it’s considered a second-degree felony with a punishment of up to 15 years in prison. If the offender is under 18 years old, the sentence will be lower.
Extenuating Circumstances For Convicted Sexual Battery Charges
There can be extenuating circumstances where the defendant does not have to go to jail for the sexual battery charges. Even if found guilty, there are times when no sentence has to be served. This is when the state may decide to enter into plea negotiations because they want to avoid a trial for whatever reason they deem necessary.
An example could include that the prosecutor feels that their victim will not make a believable victim. If the victim’s family does not want to see the defendant go to prison for personal reasons, the prosecutor may try to cut a deal in exchange for the defendant pleading guilty.
There is no way to determine this upfront, and all legal avenues must be explored and therefore prepared as if the case was going through the entire legal process. There can be an abundance of evidence that clearly shows guilt. Still, because other factors were brought to the prosecutor’s attention, the court, and the victim’s family, the defendant might be able to avoid a prison sentence.
Some of these factors could include the defendant’s lack of prior criminal history, the defendant’s age at the time of the sexual battery, and the degree to which the alleged victim may have participated willingly.
The Best Defense For Sexual Battery Charges
The best way to defend somebody against a sexual battery charge in the state of Florida is to be able to show consent on the part of the alleged victim, regardless of all the circumstances. However, this does mean that the alleged victim initially permitted the alleged act that is now being claimed to be a crime.
People often claim to be a victim for a number of different reasons; this does not automatically mean that the defendant is guilty of the crime being accused of. It is not uncommon for somebody to purposely do this for attention or cover up some type of guilt or fear. It’s your attorney’s job to find out what the victim is hiding and uncover the purpose behind the claim.
Why You Need A Sexual Battery Defense Attorney
In the State of Florida, prosecutors will aggressively go after sex crime offenders. If you or somebody you know has been charged with sexual battery, it’s imperative to find the best attorney to help you with your case. This lawyer should have an extensive background in criminal law and be aggressive enough to defend you against your charges.
Depending on the evidence and the circumstances of your case, the best criminal law attorney should be able to guide you and help you take the correct actions in order to stand a chance with these types of charges. It will not be an easy battle; however, it is not impossible to win either. With the right legal defense, you will have the best odds of reducing your sentence if you should be charged with the crime.