Florida Court Discusses Admissibility of a Defendant’s Suicide Attempt in a Sex Crime Case

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.

Evidence of a Defendant’s Suicide Attempt

If a person is charged with a crime, any evidence that the person attempted to evade potential prosecution, in any manner, is admissible if the evidence is relevant based on the knowledge of guilt that can be inferred from the person’s actions. Additionally, Florida courts have specifically held that suicide attempts may indicate a person’s guilt and his or her desire to avoid being prosecuted. In the subject case, the court noted that the defendant attempted to commit suicide after he received the victim’s texts regarding the alleged acts. Thus, the court found that the defendant’s attempted suicide was indicative of his knowledge of his guilt and found that it was properly admitted at trial.

Speak with an Experienced Sex Crime Attorney

It is important for anyone charged with lewd and lascivious molestation or another sex crime to understand what evidence the State may attempt to introduce at trial. If you are charged with a sex crime, it is important to speak with an experienced sex crime defense attorney regarding your potential defenses.  Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a criminal defense attorney adept at helping defendants seek the best results available under the circumstances surrounding their charges. Mr. Hanlon can be reached at 727-897-5413 or through the online form to set up a complimentary and confidential consultation.

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