Articles Posted in Sex with Minor

When a person is convicted of committing a crime, the court will rely on numerous factors in determining an appropriate sentence. While the court is permitted to consider some information outside of the facts relating to the present conviction, if a court considers certain evidence, such as crimes for which the defendant was not convicted, the sentence may be improper. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which the defendant successfully argued that his sentence for two separate sex crimes involving minors should be overturned. If you are accused of committing a sex crime against a child, it is critical to meet with a knowledgeable Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to discuss your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with multiple crimes involving sex acts with minors. He was found guilty of two of the charges and subsequently sentenced. The defendant then filed an appeal, arguing in part that the trial court judge improperly relied upon conduct the defendant was found not guilty of committing to determine an appropriate sentence. The appellate court found in favor of the defendant and remanded the case for a new sentence.

Factors Weighed in Determining a Sentence

Under Florida law, a judge may not rely on or consider conduct for which a defendant was acquitted when assessing what sentence to issue. In other words, it is well-established law that when the record demonstrates that the trial court relied upon previous acquittals in determining an appropriate sentence, the State bears the burden of proving that the judge’s consideration of the prior acquittals played no part in the assessment of a sentence.

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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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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 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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