Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

The law affords many rights to people accused of sex crimes, such as the right to confront their accusers. In some instances, however, the court may determine that the rights of the alleged victim or privilege between the victim and another party outweigh the defendant’s rights, and bar the defendant from seeking protected communications or impressions. Recently, the District Court of Appeals of Florida, First District, discussed when a defendant’s Sixth Amendment Right to confront his or her accuser overrides a doctor-patient privilege, in a case in which the defendant was charged with molesting a minor. If you are charged with committing a Clearwater sex crime it is prudent to engage a seasoned defense attorney to assist you in fighting to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with committing multiple sex crimes against his adopted son, including sexual battery by a person in a position of familial authority and lascivious or lewd molestation of a child. Before the trial, the State produced two psychological assessments of the victim, that indicated issues with regards to his state of mind, credibility, and bias. The State then filed a motion for a protective order, barring the victim’s treating psychologists from testifying at trial. The trial court granted the order. During the trial, the State largely relied on the victim’s testimony regarding the alleged abuse. A jury found the defendant guilty of all charges, after which he appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in refusing to permit the defendant to introduce evidence from the victim’s treating psychologists.

Sixth Amendment Right to Confront Accusers

Under Florida law, the psychotherapist-patient privilege protects a person’s communications and records pertaining to mental health treatment from disclosure. While the law specifically provides for a waiver of the privilege in certain circumstances, none of them were present in this case. As such, the court analyzed whether the defendant was permitted to overcome the privilege to cross-examine the victim with information pertaining to his credibility and bias.

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When a person is charged with a crime, the State will generally seek to introduce any evidence of the person’s guilt. Thus, the State will often not only attempt to introduce facts that demonstrate that the defendant committed the crime, but also facts that suggest the defendant’s knowledge of his or her guilt or that show the defendant attempted to evade prosecution. In a recent case decided by the District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District, the court discussed whether a court is permitted to introduce evidence that a defendant charged with a sex crime attempted to commit suicide prior to his arrest. If you are a resident of Clearwater and are currently charged with a sex crime, you should consult a Clearwater sex crime attorney proficient in helping people seek just results.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Crime

Allegedly, the defendant was a former boyfriend of the victim’s mother, who previously resided with the victim and her mother. In 2016, the teenage victim told her father that the defendant touched her in an inappropriate and sexual manner when she was a young child. The victim also texted the defendant and told him that she remembered what he did, and asked her why he committed the inappropriate acts. Prior to charges being filed against the defendant, the police received a call regarding a suicide attempt. When they responded to the call, they found the defendant in a car with marks around his neck, and a noose in a tree in his yard. The defendant had tried to hang himself.

It is reported that the defendant was charged with lewd and lascivious molestation and sexual battery on a person under twelve years old. During the trial, evidence was introduced regarding the defendant’s suicide attempt. A jury found the defendant guilty, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He appealed on several grounds, including the assertion that the trial court committed an error of discretion in introducing evidence of his suicide attempt. On appeal, the court affirmed his conviction.

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When a criminal defendant is convicted of a sex crime, the court is allowed to consider certain mitigating or aggravating factors, such as prior convictions or the lack thereof, in determining an appropriate sentence. When a court considers an impermissible factor in sentencing a defendant, however, it can be grounds to vacate the sentence, as demonstrated in a recent Florida appellate case. If you are faced with charges that you committed a sex crime, it is in your best interest to confer with a dedicated Clearwater sex crime attorney regarding your options for protecting your rights.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Offenses and Trial

It is reported that the defendant, who was 40 years old, picked up the victim, who was 16 years old while she was walking on the side of the road, and took her to his residence. The defendant then offered the victim Dilaudid, which they both injected, after which they had intercourse. The victim died later that evening from an accidental overdose. An autopsy revealed she had numerous drugs in her system, including a small amount of Dilaudid. It was not clear whether the Dilaudid contributed to her death. The defendant was charged with unlawful sexual acts with a person 16 or 17 years old and delivering controlled substances to a person under 18. He was convicted on both counts.

It is alleged that during the sentencing hearing, the judge stated that he was sure the State would have charged the defendant with homicide if the State had sufficient facts to do so. He also stated that the defendant was the main cause of the victim’s death. The defendant was subsequently sentenced to 13-year sentences, to be served consecutively, for each offense. The defendant appealed, arguing the trial court considered impermissible factors in issuing a sentence.

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When a person is required to register as a sexual offender it can impact his or her life long after the sentence for any crime is served. Florida strictly construes the sexual offender registration requirements, and a person may be required to register as a sexual offender even if he or she was not initially notified of the requirement. Recently, the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District, discussed the parameters for the requirement, in a case in which it overturned the trial court’s order obviating the defendant’s obligation to register as a sexual offender following a kidnapping conviction. If you are a resident of  Clearwater and are charged with a sex crime, it is prudent to consult a diligent Clearwater sex crime attorney to discuss your rights.

The Defendant’s Arrest and Conviction

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of multiple crimes arising out of a kidnapping in 1994. He was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison, which was followed by five years of probation. He was sentenced to additional imprisonment due to probation violations and was not released from supervision until 2006.

It is alleged that the Florida legislature enacted a law three years after the defendant’s conviction, that required sex offenders to register with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). A sexual offender designation is based on criteria set forth under the law, and kidnapping is one of the enumerated offenses that require a person to register as a sexual offender.

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In some cases, it is prudent for a criminal defendant to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence. A guilty plea does not always guarantee a lesser sentence; however, as the court is free to sentence a defendant to the maximum punishment permitted. The court is not permitted to exceed the maximum sentence, however, or the sentence may be deemed illegal. This was illustrated in a recent case decided by the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District, in a case in which the defendant pleaded guilty to sexual battery and received a sentence in excess of the maximum sentence. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with sexual battery or any other sex crime, it is important to meet with a skilled Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to help you protect your rights.

Factual Background

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with and pleaded to guilty three separate charges of sexual battery with a deadly weapon, arising out of separate acts. Prior to pleading guilty, the defendant entered into a plea agreement with the State, in which his collective sentences were not to exceed 100 years. The court disregarded the agreement, however, and sentenced the defendant to three concurrent 90-year sentences. The defendant filed a motion to correct the sentences, arguing that as sexual batteries were life felonies, but the court did not impose life sentences, the maximum term he could be sentenced for each offense was 40 years.

Reportedly, the court subsequently issued an order stating that the defendant withdrew his motion. The defendant filed a second motion, but it was never ruled on. Finally, the defendant filed a third motion to correct his sentence. The court denied the motion stating that the issue had previously been ruled upon, and the defendant appealed.

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It is well-known that there is a constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy, which is the term used for being tried or convicted more than once for the same criminal offense. This does not mean that a person cannot face multiple criminal charges for criminal conduct in a single criminal episode, however, as recently discussed by a Florida appellate court, in a case in which the defendant was convicted of both attempted lewd battery and unlawfully traveling to meet a minor. If you are a Clearwater resident faced with charges of a sex crime involving a minor or any other sex crime it is essential to retain an assertive Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to fight to protect your liberties.

Facts and Procedural Background

Allegedly, in June 2016, the defendant communicated online with an undercover police officer who was posing as a fourteen-year-old girl. During their conversations, the defendant offered to pay the girl money for sexual activity and arranged to meet the girl at her house. On the way to the agreed upon location, which the defendant believed to be the girl’s home, the defendant reportedly stopped to get cash and buy condoms. When he arrived at the home, he was arrested. He was subsequently charged with unlawful travel and attempted lewd battery.

It is reported the defendant moved to dismiss the attempted lewd battery charge, on double jeopardy grounds. The court ruled that although both crimes arose out of the same conduct, and a single criminal episode, it found that each charge required elements of proof that the other did not. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion and he pleaded no contest to the charges. He then appealed from the final judgment. Continue Reading ›

In many cases in which a defendant is convicted of a sex crime, he or she will be sentenced to probation rather than imprisonment. If a person violates the terms of his or her probation, however, it can result in a revocation of probation. If the State seeks to revoke a defendant’s probation, it must provide the defendant with an affidavit of the alleged probation violation, and if the State fails to do so, it may violate due process. Recently, a Florida court of appeals analyzed whether an inaccurate affidavit of violation of probation is sufficient to sustain a revocation of probation in a sex crime case. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with violation of probation for a sex crime conviction it is essential to speak with a knowledgeable Clearwater sex crime defense attorney regarding what the State must prove to revoke your probation.

Factual and Procedural Background

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with violating the terms of his probation for a sex crime conviction, Specifically, it was alleged that he possessed pornography in violation of the terms of his probation. Following a hearing, the court found that the defendant violated his probation and revoked his probation. He was subsequently sentenced to ninety-nine months imprisonment. The defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court committed an error by ruling he violated the term of his probation prohibiting him from possessing pornography, because the State failed to show that the pornographic materials had any bearing on the deviant behavior that originally led to his sex crime conviction.

Sufficiency of Affidavit of Violation of Probation

Under Florida law, sex offenders who are sentenced to probation are required to have a prohibition on possessing pornographic materials as a term of their probation. Before October 2014, the law required that the pornographic materials subject to prohibition bear a relationship to the defendant’s pattern of deviant behavior. After October 2014, however, the statute was revised to require the prohibition of any pornographic materials as a term of a sex offender’s probation. As such, anyone placed on probation after October 2014 following a conviction for a sex crime is prohibited from owning any pornographic materials. Notably, however, the statutory modification did not alleviate the earlier provision prohibiting pornographic materials related to the offender’s deviant behavior.

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The Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure offer numerous protections to defendants charged with sex crimes, including the right to appeal unjust convictions. While the law provides avenues for appeal, it also imposes strict deadlines that criminal defendants must comply with, to avoid waiving the right to appeal. A Florida district court of appeals recently discussed exceptions to the statutory deadlines for filing an appeal, in a case in which the defendant’s appeal of his conviction for sexual battery was denied as untimely.  If you are a Clearwater resident charged with a sex crime it is vital to retain a skillful Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to present a strong defense on your behalf to help you protect your rights.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was charged with sexual battery of an individual less than twelve years of age and lewd and lascivious molestation. The charges arose out of the defendant’s alleged digital penetration of his granddaughter while she slept in a bed with him. During the trial, the granddaughter also testified that the defendant molested her when she was approximately 7 years old when she visited him in Colorado. Additionally, another granddaughter and the defendant’s stepdaughter testified that the defendant had molested them on more than one occasion as well. The defendant was convicted on both counts and sentenced to life in prison. The second conviction was deemed to violate double jeopardy and was vacated.

Allegedly, within the two-year deadline, the defendant filed a Rule 3.850 motion for post-conviction relief arguing that his counsel was ineffective on multiple grounds, including for permitting the State to introduce collateral crime evidence. The court denied the motion with prejudice, finding that the defendant failed to prove the case was prejudiced or his counsel was ineffective. Then, one year later, the defendant filed a second motion for post-conviction relief.  The trial court denied the motion and the defendant appealed.

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A person accused of committing a sex crime has the right to a fair trial which includes the right to be represented by an attorney. A defendant who is charged with a sex crime is afforded the right to an attorney even if he or she does not have sufficient funds to hire an attorney, in which case one will be appointed. Even though a defendant may not choose an appointed attorney, the attorney still has an obligation to provide a thorough defense, and attorneys that have conflicts of interest must recuse themselves from representing the defendants they have been appointed to represent. A Florida appellate court recently discussed what constitutes a conflict of interest in a sex crime case.   If you live in Clearwater and are accused of committing a sex crime you should meet with a trusted Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to discuss the facts of your case and your available defenses.

The Charges Against the Defendant

Allegedly, the defendant approached his victim while she was walking in her neighborhood, held a knife to her neck, and raped her. The victim went to the hospital where medical professionals examined her and gathered evidence that matched the defendant. The defendant was charged with sexual battery with a deadly weapon. He was found guilty following a jury trial, after which he appealed.

What Constitutes an Actual Conflict of Interest

In his appeal, the defendant argued, in part, that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to representation of counsel without conflict. Specifically, he argued that because it was discovered during the trial that his attorney was employed by the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel (OCCCRC), and another attorney employed by OCCCRC was representing the victim in another matter. Upon learning this information, the judge placed the defendant under oath and asked whether he wished to waive any possible conflict, to which the defendant replied yes. The judge commented that no actual conflict had arisen but found that the defendant had knowingly and freely waived any potential conflict.
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Double jeopardy principles prohibit the state from charging or trying a defendant more than once for the same crime. In some cases where dual offenses result from the same factual scenario, double jeopardy precludes a defendant from being convicted for both crimes. This is not true with all crimes involving multiple offenses, however, as illustrated in a recent case arising out of a Florida court of appeals.

The court, in that case, rejected the defendant’s argument that he could not be convicted of both robbery and theft because it constituted double jeopardy, affirming his conviction of both charges.  If you face criminal charges in Clearwater, you should confer with a seasoned Clearwater criminal defense attorney to help you develop a strategy for your defense.

 Factual Scenario

Reportedly, an armed robbery occurred at a convenience store. Police suspected the defendant committed the robbery as well as other robberies and conducted an investigation. The defendant was subsequently charged with armed robbery, grand theft, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, based on the results of the investigation. A jury convicted the defendant of armed robbery and petit theft. The defendant was sentenced to life in prison. He appealed his conviction arguing, among other things, that he could not be convicted of both robbery and theft because it constituted double jeopardy. The court of appeals rejected his argument and affirmed his conviction.

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