Rape shield laws were created to help protect sexual assault victims from invasive inquiries into their sex life. Florida law prohibits the defense from entering into evidence any specific instances of consensual sex between the victim and anyone other than the defendant. In this case, the victim allegedly had consensual sex with her ex-boyfriend before going to a party with him. At the party she allegedly had too much alcohol and passed out. While her ex-boyfriend was gone getting more alcohol, three of the partygoers – including the defendant – allegedly sexually assaulted her. At trial, the defendant was convicted of sexual battery with specified circumstances by multiple perpetrators.
Evidence of Prior Consensual Sex
The defendant in this case alleged several grounds for appeal. One of the grounds for appeal was that the judge did not allow him to admit evidence of the victim’s consensual sex with her ex-boyfriend before the party. The Florida Third District Court of Appeal relied on the rape shield law explained above to uphold the conviction on this argument. The court explained that a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront his accuser can come into play if there are unreasonable limits placed on a defendant’s right to cross examine witnesses.
The defendant here argued that he wanted to introduce this evidence to show that the victim wanted to get back together with her ex-boyfriend. Therefore, the defendant argued, she lied about the sex being consensual at the party in order to preserve her relationship with her ex-boyfriend. However, the appeals court here held that there was adequate other evidence that was introduced at the trial to show the relationship between the victim and her ex-boyfriend. Thus, on this ground the conviction could stand.
Text Message from Another Involved Party
The defendant in this case also argued that his sex crime conviction should be overturned because he was not allowed to introduce a specific text message into evidence. The text message was between the victim and one of the other men who allegedly sexually assaulted her at the party. The appeals court also upheld the decision of the trial court to prohibit this evidence from being admitted. They explained that the texts were not between the victim and the defendant, thus they were irrelevant to the defendant’s case. Further, the defendant testified that he was alone with the defendant when they had consensual sex, thus the texts are also irrelevant to the defendant’s theory of the case. Therefore, the conviction was also upheld on these grounds.
Motion for Judgment of Acquittal
Finally, the defendant argued that the trial court should have granted his motion for acquittal because there was not enough evidence that the defendant was physically helpless or physically incapacitated. The appeals court explained that they will uphold these findings as long as there is competent substantial evidence to support them. Here, the appeals court held that there was enough evidence that the defendant was both physically helpless and physically incapacitated due to drinking approximately 12 shots of vodka in an hour. Thus, the conviction was upheld by the appeals court.
Contact an Experienced Clearwater Sex Crime Criminal Defense Attorney Today!
Defendants charged with sex crimes need knowledgeable attorneys on their side to help defend them from such serious charges. The experienced Clearwater sex crime defense attorneys at Hanlon Law Firm will defend you zealously against any sex crimes and other charges. Call our offices at (727) 897-5413 or contact us online to speak with our attorneys about your case.
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