What Should a Criminal Defense Lawyer Consider When Defending a Sexual Battery Charge in Florida?
Posted on July 07, 2016 4:00 AM EST
It can be extremely confusing and misleading to read articles about crimes online – oftentimes, there are wrong details and details are missing! We recently read a crime report article about an Air Force major who allegedly sexually assaulted an 18-year-old woman. Modern media will pick up a news story or criminal story based almost exclusively on arrest records, which reveal little evidence about a case and its likelihood of dismissal. Oftentimes, these articles serve exclusively to damage the reputation of the person who was arrested. At Donet, McMillan and Trontz, P.A., our Miami criminal defense lawyers believe in digging deeper into the all-too-often thin details of sexual battery charges
to determine someone's culpability and help them preserve their reputation when the evidence doesn't add up.
According to the report (which was most likely not written by a Florida criminal defense lawyer), a 32-year-old Air Force major is accused of sexual battery against an 18-year-old woman. The woman reported that the man attempted to touch her sexually without consent. The man reported that the victim in the case had actually attempted to have sex with him, and being married, he said no. He was arrested.
The bond was set at $100,000. That would require a $100,000 cash deposit with the clerk of court, or alternatively, the defendant can pay a bondsman $10,000 or 10 percent. Bonds paid through the clerk will be returned to the defendant when the case closes. The 10 percent paid to the bondsman will not be retuned, as he is providing $100,000 in coverage and accepting responsibility for the other $90,000. Once a bond is posted, the defendant should be released within 24 hours.
What Is the Evidence?
This is a challenging story, because there is so much missing information! First of all, the article does not specify under which particular section of the sexual battery statute (Chapter 794) the defendant was arrested under. Based on the article, it appears as if the defendant was arrested under Section 794.11(5)(b), which states that the defendant committed an act upon the victim in which the sexual organ of the defendant penetrated or had union with the anus, vagina, or mouth of the victim and that the act was committed without the consent of the victim. If charged with that offense, the defendant is looking at a second degree felony punishable up to 15 years in prison.
Are The Charges Accurate?
Frankly, the article makes no sense. Criminal defense lawyers don't write these articles, so there's little accuracy or analysis to them much of the time! The problem with this article, is that it reports there was no sexual union between the defendant and the victim – making a sexual battery charge improbable. However, the offense of attempted sexual battery could be charged. Attempted crimes are reduced by one felony level, so anyone charged with attempted sexual battery would be facing a third degree felony punishable up to five years in prison.
What Questions Should a Criminal Defense Lawyer Ask?
The criminal lawyers defending this client need to know if a sexual union occurred or not. Did the victim have any defensive injuries, such as skin under her nails or any bruising? Was the victim's clothing torn? What was the victim's demeanor as she reported the incident to the homeowner? Without knowing those facts, it is difficult to say what the defense would be, but that information would be revealed through the discovery process including the taking of depositions.
The lawyers at DMT have handled numerous sexual battery cases in Miami-Dade County, as well as, in other jurisdictions such as Broward, Lee and Collier County. The results of each case are completely dependent on the evidence and the victim's willingness to testify in open court.
What Would Be a Good Outcome for the Defendant?
A positive outcome would be a dismissal based on a lack of evidence. Keep in mind, if the defendant is convicted of a sexual offense, not only is he facing jail or prison time, but would also be deemed a sexual offender and be required to register is such with the State of Florida. Secondly, the military could use any type of conviction to separate the defendant from the Air Force, which would cause him to lose most, if not all of his benefits. The Air Force could also prosecute him for the same offense. It is not double jeopardy, as the civilian case is a state charge and the Air Force would be a federal charge.
As long as the defendant did not make any incriminating statements to the police or anyone else at the house, the outcome of case will depend on the credibility of the victim. It is difficult to prove these cases without physical evidence and/or a statement provided by the defendant. Speaking with the police never helps. Always invoke your right to remain silent and the right to have a lawyer.
If you're facing sexual battery charges, it's important to get representation, as the punishments are quite severe and can change your life drastically! Call Donet, McMillan & Trontz at (305) 444-0030 for a consultation for you or a loved one today.