Florida Court Explains Consent in Sex Crime Matters

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.

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with and convicted of sexual battery. He admitted to the police that he engaged in sexual conduct with the victim but argued that she initiated it. He moved for acquittal but, his motion was denied, and he was convicted. He then filed a motion for a rehearing.

Evidence Needed to Prove Lack of Consent

The crux of the defendant’s argument was that the trial court failed to establish each element of the sexual battery charge. Specifically, they did not show that the victim did not consent to the behavior. The court did not adopt the defendant’s reasoning and ultimately denied the motion for rehearing and affirmed his conviction.

In its opinion, the court discussed what evidence The court explained that consent refers to the knowing, intelligent, and voluntary agreement and does not mean coerced behavior. Additionally, consent cannot be inferred by the victim’s failure to physically resist the perpetrator. The court found that although the victim could not recall what happened that night, her limited testimony along with surveillance videos and the defendant’s testimony could allow a reasonable jury to infer that she did not consent to the sexual acts that occurred. As such, the court denied the defendant’s motion.

Talk to a Trusted Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney

Sex crimes carry significant penalties, including, in many cases, mandatory registration as a sex offender. If you are accused of a sex crime, it is smart to talk to an attorney about your options. The trusted Clearwater criminal defense attorneys of Hanlon Law can advise you of your potential defenses, and help you to seek the best outcome available under the facts of your case. You can contact Hanlon Law through the online form or by calling 727-897-5413 to set up a meeting.

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