Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

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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The statutes that criminalize behavior must be sufficiently specific to be deemed constitutional. When statutes are vague and overbroad, they can lead to improper convictions and subsequent challenges to the constitutionality of the statutes.

Recently, the Supreme Court of Florida analyzed whether a statute criminalizing hazing was overbroad in violation of the First Amendment, and ultimately determined it was not, affirming the defendant’s conviction. If you are facing criminal charges in Sarasota, it is important to retain a skilled Sarasota crime defense attorney to assist you in protecting your liberties.

Factual Background

Reportedly, the defendant was a member of the percussion section of the marching band at a Florida university. The percussion section rode to away events on a bus and engaged in a three-part ritual during their trips. The first part involved a member sitting at the front of the bus and getting struck by other band members, the second involved the member standing and holding onto the luggage rack while being slapped by other members, and the last part involved the member walking to the back of the bus while other members slapped, punched, and kicked them. The defendant, as the president of the bus, determined when a member should take part in the ritual.

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Under Florida law, criminal suspects under the age of 18 are afforded certain rights based on their age, such as the right to be tried in a juvenile court. The juvenile court system may be more lenient and result in less stringent penalties than would be issued in adult court. The right to be tried as a juvenile is not a fundamental right that is guaranteed, however, but can be waived due to inaction.

A Florida district court recently upheld a juvenile defendant’s conviction in adult court for vehicular homicide, where the defendant’s attorney did not object to the jurisdiction until after the jury issued a verdict. If you are a juvenile Clearwater resident facing criminal charges, you should consult a skilled Clearwater crimal defense attorney to discuss the facts of your case and available defenses.

Procedural Facts

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with multiple offenses, including vehicular homicide, arising out of an incident that occurred when he was 15-years-old. Despite his juvenile status, the case was direct-filed in adult court. He entered a plea and was subsequently tried in front of a jury, which resulted in a hung jury and mistrial. A second trial subsequently commenced, after which the defendant was convicted of all charges. Shortly prior to the defendant’s sentencing hearing his attorney raised an objection to the court’s jurisdiction by filing a motion to vacate and remand to juvenile court. The defendant’s attorney had not raised any objection to the adult-court’s jurisdiction at any previous point in the proceedings. The state argued that the direct-filing in adult court was proper and that the defendant waived the right to object to the court’s jurisdiction prior to the conclusion of the trial. The court agreed, denying the motion. The defendant subsequently appealed, arguing ineffective assistance of counsel.

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In many instances where a defendant is charged with a sex crime, the only evidence of the crime is the testimony of the alleged victim. In Clearwater sex crime cases where there is no other corroborating evidence of the alleged crime if the victim recants his or her prior testimony at trial, it is unlikely the State will be able to present evidence to support a conviction.

This was recently illustrated in a case decided by a Florida court of appeals, in which the defendant’s convictions for two sex crimes were overturned, due to the alleged victim’s repudiation of her prior statement at trial. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with a sex crime, you should retain a seasoned Clearwater sex crimes defense attorney as soon as possible, to analyze what defenses are available to the charges you face.

Alleged Sexual Battery

Reportedly, the defendant sexually battered his girlfriend’s 16-year-old mentally disabled sister. The victim’s mother took her to a hospital, where she gave a detailed account of the defendant’s actions. The State charged the defendant with three separate counts of sexual battery, for three acts of oral, penile, and digital penetration, based upon the victim’s account.

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If you are currently facing sex crime charges, it is important to be aware of both the elements of the crime charged and the elements considered for sentencing if you are convicted of the crime. The elements weighed for sentencing may be different than those needed to find a defendant guilty, and if certain elements are present it may result in increased penalties.

For example, in a recent federal appellate case which arose out of a Florida district court, the court held that the sentencing guidelines for child pornography allow for enhanced sentencing for a person convicted of possession of child pornography, if the offender is determined to have produced or caused the production of such pornography. If you are a resident of Clearwater currently facing sex crime charges, you should consult a skilled Clearwater sex crimes defense attorney to help you develop a plan to help you retain your rights.

Defendant’s Conviction and Sentencing

Allegedly, the defendant was convicted of conspiring to receive and possess child pornography and receiving child pornography. He was sentenced to 480 months in prison. He appealed his sentence on the grounds that the trial court erred when it determined that he’d produced or caused the production of child pornography in determining an appropriate sentence. He further argued his sentence was unreasonable due to certain mitigating factors such as his lack of criminal history, his record of public service, and his unstable childhood. On appeal, the court affirmed his sentence.

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One of the protections afforded criminal defendants is the prohibiting of hearsay testimony as evidence of a crime. While there are certain exceptions to the rule against hearsay, they are strictly construed. As shown in a recent case ruled on by a District Court of Appeal of Florida, if a trial court erroneously allows the admission of hearsay evidence, it can result in a conviction being overturned. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with a crime, it is in your best interest to meet with an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney to help you retain your rights.

Reported Facts

Allegedly, the defendant went to the apartment of his friend’s neighbors to question them about reportedly harassing his friend. It is undisputed that the neighbors’ door was knocked down, the defendant entered the apartment, a fight ensued, and a gun was discharged. The exact details of what happened after the defendant arrived at the neighbor’s apartment were disputed, however. Following the incident, the defendant was charged with multiple crimes.

At the trial, the defendant testified that he asked the neighbors to leave his friend alone, accidentally knocked the door down, and was pulled into the apartment, and one of the neighbors’ had a gun that discharged. In contrast, the neighbors testified that the defendant kicked in the door, pointed a gun at them, assaulted them, and discharged the gun. The defendant’s friend did not testify at the trial. The state admitted out-of-court statements made by the friend into evidence at the trial, despite objections by the defendant’s counsel that they constituted hearsay. The statements indicated the friend was going to send someone to “put a cap in” the neighbors and beat them up. The state argued these statements were evidence the defendant intended to assault the neighbors when he went to their apartment. The defendant was ultimately convicted of burglary of an occupied dwelling and assault, but the jury specifically found that the defendant did not use or possess a firearm or commit a battery. The defendant appealed, arguing the evidence regarding his friend’s out-of-court statements constituted inadmissible hearsay.

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