Florida Court Discusses Exceptions to Appellate Deadlines in Sex Crime Case

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.

Timeliness of Motion for Post-Conviction Relief

Under the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, a Rule 3.850 motion must be filed within two years of any final judgment and sentence entered by the court. Thus, the defendant’s second motion, which was filed more than two years after the date of his sentence, was barred procedurally due to its untimely nature. The court was not persuaded by the defendant’s argument that his motion should be treated as timely due to disabilities caused by his mental illness, including dementia.

Specifically, the court found that the defendant’s claim that he could not file a motion for post-conviction relief within the two-year time limit due to his mental illness was refuted by the fact that he filed his first motion within that time. Thus, the court found that any claims that did not constitute newly discovered evidence were barred as untimely.  On review, the court found that the evidence the defendant identified as newly discovered was known to the defendant prior to his trial. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Retain a Seasoned Clearwater Sex Crime Defense Attorney

If you are a Clearwater resident currently charged with one or more sex crimes it is crucial to retain a seasoned Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to set forth persuasive and compelling arguments to help you fight to retain your liberties. Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is an assertive Clearwater criminal defense attorney who will vigorously defend you against the charges you face. You can reach Mr. Hanlon at 727-897-5413 or via the form online to set up a consultation to discuss your charges.


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