Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects people against unreasonable search and seizure. In other words, absent a warrant, they cannot be searched, and their property cannot be taken by the police as part of a criminal investigation. There are exceptions, though, including border searches. Recently, a Florida court examined a traveler’s constitutional right to be free from searches in a case where the defendant was charged with numerous sex crimes after his phone was taken upon his entry into Florida. If you are accused of a sex offense, it is in your best interest to speak to a  Clearwater sex crime defense lawyer about what measures you can take to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant returned to Florida after an international cruise. One week prior, the Coast Guard contacted border patrol to inform them that the defendant was the target of a human trafficking investigation. When the defendant arrived at the port, he was detained by border patrol, and his phone was seized and sent to a Homeland Security office, where data was extracted from it and it was analyzed.

Allegedly, about two months later, the police obtained a warrant to search the defendant, largely relying on the information taken from his phone. The defendant was ultimately arrested and charged with ten crimes, including sex trafficking, fraud, and coercion. He moved to suppress the evidence obtained from his phone, arguing that the seizure and search happened without probable cause, a warrant, or exigent circumstances.

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The Florida legislature enacted laws setting forth sentencing guidelines that the courts must consider when determining an appropriate penalty for a criminal conviction. Courts have the discretion to set forth sentences outside of the guidelines, though, if they deem it appropriate in consideration of any relevant factors. Any sentence that falls outside of the guidelines must be reasonable, however, otherwise it may demonstrate an abuse of discretion. Recently, a Florida court discussed what constitutes a reasonable sentence in a case in which the defendant was convicted of producing child pornography and other sexual offenses involving minors. If you are charged with a sex crime, it is smart to hire a Clearwater sex crime defense lawyer to help you mount a compelling defense.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of enticing a minor to engage in sexual acts and producing child pornography. He was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. He appealed, arguing that the sentencing court abused its discretion in issuing the sentence. The appellate court disagreed, finding that the sentence imposed was substantively reasonable.

Evaluating Whether a Sentence is Reasonable

The courts review the reasonableness of a sentence for an abuse of discretion. If a sentence falls outside of the range suggested by the guidelines, the reviewing court can consider the degree of the deviation but must defer to the sentencing court’s determination that the sentencing factors, in their entirety, justify the degree of the variance. Continue Reading ›

While people often think that they would mount a vigorous defense if they were charged with a crime, in some cases, it makes sense to enter a no contest or guilty plea. Typically, it is difficult to overturn a conviction after pleading no contest, but there are exceptions. For example, as discussed in a recent ruling issued by a Florida court in a case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for failing to register as a sex offender, a person cannot be found guilty of an offense they did not commit, regardless of their plea. If you are charged with a sex crime, it is in your best interest to meet with a dedicated Clearwater sex crime defense lawyer to discuss your options.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with failing to register as a sex predator in accordance with Florida law and failing to report that he vacated his permanent residence. He entered a no contest plea, after which he was convicted and sentenced. He subsequently appealed. The appellate court ultimately found in his favor as to the sex predator charge and reversed his conviction.

Overturning a Conviction Following a No Contest Plea

On appeal, the court noted that the error committed by the trial court was clear. Specifically, the defendant entered a plea of no contest to a crime he did not commit. The appellate court explained that the defendant was never designated as a sexual predator. Therefore, in accordance with Florida law, he had no duty to register as a sex predator.

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Under Florida law, it is illegal to engage in sexual activity with someone without their consent, and such behavior can result in sexual battery charges. Notably, affirmative refusals are not required to demonstrate a lack of consent; instead, it can be established by showing a person lacked the capacity to consent at the time the acts occurred due to intoxication. Recently, a Florida appellate court explained what evidence is needed to establish that a person’s inebriation prevented them from consenting to sexual contact, in a ruling in which it denied the defendant’s motion for a rehearing in a sexual battery case. If you are accused of a sex crime, it is in your best interest to meet with a dedicated Florida sex crime defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The Alleged Assault

It is reported that the victim and her friend consumed alcohol at the victim’s apartment before traveling to a bar. They consumed several more drinks at the bar, and then the victim became lightheaded. She subsequently fell off a barstool and struck her head, after which she was asked to leave.

Allegedly, the defendant, who drove for a ride-sharing company, picked up the victim and her friend and transported them back to the victim’s apartment. The victim had difficulty getting out of the vehicle and then laid on the sidewalk. The defendant helped the victim and the friend into the victim’s apartment. Once they were inside, the defendant engaged in sexual contact with the victim. The victim was reportedly unconscious and did not recall what happened but contacted the police the following day.

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When a person is charged with a sex crime, the State will often seek to introduce evidence of other inappropriate sex acts that the individual allegedly engaged in, in an effort to prove motive or a pattern of conduct. Evidence of collateral crimes is only admissible in certain instances, however, and if such evidence is inappropriately divulged at trial, it may result in the reversal of a conviction, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which the defendant was charged with sexual battery. If you are charged with a sex offense, it is prudent to confer with an assertive Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to evaluate what defenses you may be able to set forth.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the victim, who was friends with the defendant and his wife, went out drinking with the couple and then spent the night on their couch. She woke up several times during the evening to find the defendant kissing her, performing sex acts on her, and engaging in intercourse with her. Each time she told the defendant to stop and pushed him away. A few days after the incident, she contacted the police, who told her to record calls with the defendant. During the calls, he repeatedly stated that he was sorry but denied having any knowledge of the incident.

It is reported that the defendant was charged with sexual battery. At trial, the State introduced a witness who testified that on a prior occasion a few years before the incident, the defendant kissed her and groped her while she was intoxicated. The defendant was convicted as charged. He then filed an appeal, arguing in part that the trial court erred in allowing the introduction of evidence of collateral crimes.

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In some cases in which a person is charged with a sex crime, the person can avoid a conviction or obtain a lesser sentence if the evidence demonstrates that the alleged victim willingly participated in sexual activity with the defendant. Recently, a Florida court discussed when evidence that a victim was a willing participant can be used to justify a downward departure of a sentence in a case in which the defendant was convicted of multiple crimes involving sex with a minor. If you are accused of having sex with a minor or any other sex crime, it is advisable to speak to a trusted Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to assess what defenses you may be able to set forth.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant, who was 52-years-old, became involved in a sexual relationship with the victim, who was his 17-year-old niece. The defendant’s behavior became aggressive, and he began threatening to accuse the victim’s brother of a crime if she ended their relationship. The victim ultimately told her mother about her involvement with the defendant, and the defendant was arrested and charged with multiple crimes involving sex with a minor.

It is reported that the defendant pleaded no contest to the charges. During the sentencing hearing, the prosecution presented testimony regarding the defendant’s grooming of the victim and an impact statement from the victim. The trial court also stated that the case appeared to be a classic representation of grooming. The court imposed a downward departure from the minimum sentence of 264 months in prison, however, and only imposed a five-year sentence, based on a finding that the victim was a willing participant. The State appealed, arguing the court erred in granting a downward departure.

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Many people convicted of sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders as part of their sentence, and if they fail to register, they can be charged with a criminal offense. Not all defendants who are convicted of sex crimes must register as sex offenders, however, as explained in a Florida appellate case recently in which the court affirmed the dismissal of an information charging the defendant with failing to register as a sex offender, finding that it was not required under the terms of his sentence. If you were charged with a sex crime in Clearwater, it is in your best interest to speak with a seasoned Clearwater sex crime defense attorney regarding what steps you can take to protect your rights.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is alleged that in 2002, the defendant was convicted of attempted lascivious and lewd molestation, after which he was sentenced to prison term of fifteen years and fined $10,000. After the defendant’s release from prison, the State filed an information alleging that the defendant failed to report to register as a sex offender, as required under Florida law. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the information, arguing that he did not qualify as a sex offender under the law, and therefore was not required to register regardless of the fact that he had been released from prison, as his fine had not been released and discharged. The trial court agreed, dismissing the information. The State appealed the trial court ruling, and on appeal, the appellate court affirmed.

The requirement to Register as a Sex Offender

Under the applicable law, a sexual offender is a person convicted of one of many enumerated crimes, or a similar crime in another jurisdiction, who has been released from the sanction imposed for his or her conviction. Sanctions include but are not limited to incarceration and fines. In the subject case, the court noted that the defendant was convicted of one of the crimes listed in the Florida statute defining sex offenders.

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In many instances, when a defendant is charged with sexual battery, the State relies solely on circumstantial evidence in support of the allegations against the defendant. Thus, if the admissibility of any of the State’s evidence is questionable, it may be prudent for the defendant’s counsel to object to the introduction of the evidence, and the failure to do so may harm the defendant’s case. In some cases, however, a defense attorney’s strategic decision not to object to statements offered by the defendant may be a reasonable trial strategy, as discussed in a recent Florida appellate case in which the defendant argued that his conviction for sexual battery should be overturned due to ineffective assistance of counsel. If you are faced with charges that you committed a sexual offense, it is prudent to consult a capable Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to develop a strategy to offer you a strong chance of a successful result.

Procedural History

It is reported that the defendant was convicted of sexual battery, battery, and lewd or lascivious molestation. He moved for post-conviction relief, arguing in part that his trial counsel was ineffective for making certain evidentiary decisions during the trial. The court granted the motion in part, vacating the defendant’s conviction, after which the State appealed. On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Assessing the Reasonableness of a Defense Attorney’s Trial Strategy

The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution grants criminal defendants the right to effective counsel. Thus, a defendant arguing he or she suffered prejudice due to ineffective assistance of counsel must establish that his or her counsel’s performance was objectively unreasonable and therefore fell below the prevailing professional standard. In order to show that counsel’s performance was unreasonable, a defendant must set forth evidence establishing that no other competent trial counsel would use the same strategy or make the same decisions as his or her counsel. In cases in which the court deems trial counsel’s performance unreasonable, it must then assess whether the performance caused the defendant to suffer prejudice.

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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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