Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

It is not uncommon for the prosecution to rely on circumstantial evidence to attempt to establish a defendant’s guilt in Florida sex crime cases. While both circumstantial evidence is admissible, the prosecution is generally precluded from introducing evidence of the defendant’s prior bad acts to demonstrate their guilt for their current charges. There are exceptions to the general rule, however, that will allow the courts to introduce evidence of child molestation and evidence of other crimes in sex crime cases, as discussed in a recent Florida opinion. If you are charged with a sex-related offense, it is prudent to meet with a Tampa sex crime defense lawyer about what defenses you may be able to set forth.

Procedural and Factual Background

It is reported that the defendant was charged with child pornography offenses. The defendant’s criminal history includes prior convictions, notably in 1998 for Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Fourth Degree in Michigan, a misdemeanor involving unlawful sexual contact, and Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in Michigan in 2000. Furthermore, in 2003, the defendant was indicted for and later convicted of possessing child pornography. Prior to his trial, he filed a Motion in Limine to preclude the introduction of evidence regarding his prior convictions, including his child pornography conviction, which the Government opposed.

Admissibility of Evidence Regarding Prior Crimes

The court ultimately denied the defendant’s motion. Prior to doing so, it considered whether the evidence of the defendant’s 2004 conviction for possession of child pornography was admissible. The Government argued that this evidence could be introduced under Federal Rule of Evidence 414 (permitting evidence of child molestation) and Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) (allowing evidence of other crimes or acts for specific purposes). Rule 414 defines “child molestation” to include any acts prohibited by 18 U.S.C. Chapter 110, which includes possession and distribution of child pornography. Continue Reading ›

In Florida sex crime cases, the defendant’s guilt or innocence often hinges on how the jury perceives circumstantial evidence and the credibility of the witnesses. For example, a defendant may testify that they engaged in prior consensual activity with the victim in support of the argument that the acts in question were consensual. If a defendant is prohibited from testifying regarding such activity, then it may inhibit their ability to present a defense, as discussed in a recent Florida case.  If you are charged with a sex offense, it is in your best interest to meet with a Tampa sex crime defense attorney to discuss what arguments you may be able to assert in your defense.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was charged with sexual battery and trespass. The charges stemmed from an incident where the defendant allegedly entered the victim’s residence during the night, sexually assaulted her, and then left. The victim initially believed it was her boyfriend but later realized it was not. DNA evidence linked the defendant to the crime.

Allegedly, at trial, the defendant attempted to assert the defense that the sexual encounter was consensual. He claimed that he had previously engaged in consensual sexual activity with the victim on two occasions in exchange for drugs. However, the trial court prohibited him from testifying about these prior encounters. The jury convicted the defendant, and he was sentenced to ten years in prison. He appealed, arguing the trial court erred in barring him from testifying regarding prior consensual sexual activity with the alleged victim. Continue Reading ›

In Florida, people convicted of sex crimes generally are required to register as sex offenders; if they fail to, they may face additional charges. Notably, people can be required to register as sex offenders if they are convicted of sexual offenses that require registration in other states. Recently, a Florida court examined what constitutes an offense requiring registration in a case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for failing to register. If you are accused of a sex crime, it is important to meet with a Tampa sex crime defense attorney to assess your options for protecting your interests.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with failing to register as a sex offender. The defendant moved for acquittal, but his motion was denied. A jury subsequently found him guilty as charged. The defendant appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to establish that he was required to register as a sex offender.

Crimes Requiring Sex Offender Registration

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court explained that to establish culpability for failing to register as a sex offender, the State was required to demonstrate that the defendant was convicted of a sexual offense that required registration. In order to meet this burden, the State offered evidence at trial that the defendant was found guilty of oral copulation with the use of force in California. Continue Reading ›

Many criminal defendants unwaveringly assert their innocence, but others choose to plead guilty in hopes of obtaining a favorable plea deal. State and federal law allows defendants to enter guilty pleas, as long as they do so willingly and with a clear understanding of the consequences of their decision, but if they do, they typically have limited chances to withdraw their plea. Recently, a Florida court analyzed when permitting a criminal defendant to change their guilty plea is appropriate in a case in which the defendant pled guilty to numerous crimes involving sex with a minor. If you are charged with a sex crime, you may face substantial penalties if convicted, and it is in your best interest to talk to a Tampa sex crime defense attorney as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant lived with his girlfriend and her teenage son and daughter. For approximately one year, the defendant had sex with the daughter, who was sixteen at the time. The daughter cooperated with law enforcement and made calls to catch the defendant scheduling sex acts. The defendant was subsequently arrested and charged with recruiting and soliciting a minor to engage in a commercial sex act.

It is reported that the defendant pleaded not guilty at his arraignment but requested a change of plea hearing a few months later, during which he requested to change his plea to guilty. The magistrate noticed he was hesitant and ended the hearing. The defendant requested a second change of plea hearing a week later, during which he stated that no one compelled him to plead guilty. Continue Reading ›

Generally, Florida law dictates that crimes must be prosecuted within a certain amount of time. Thus, if the state fails to prosecute a person for an offense within the statute of limitations, it may waive the right to do so. Some offenses can be prosecuted at any time, however, as explained in a recent Florida ruling issued in a sexual battery case. If you are charged with sexual battery or any other sex crime, it is important to understand your rights, and you should meet with a Tampa sex crime defense lawyer promptly.

History of the Case

It is reported that in January 2010, a 15-year-old girl reported to the police that a man with the same name as the defendant gave her alcohol and then raped her. She was transported to a medical facility where a vaginal swab was obtained using a sexual assault kit. Approximately three months later, Florida law enforcement determined that DNA obtained from the vaginal swab belonged to the appellant. He was arrested in March 2019 and charged with sexual battery. He was convicted, after which he moved to vacate his conviction on the grounds that the statute of limitations expired on the sexual battery offense. The court denied his motion, and he appealed.

The United States Constitution includes numerous provisions that protect criminal defendants. Among other things, it dictates that they must be mentally competent before they can be tried for a criminal offense. Thus, if a criminal matter proceeds to trial despite concerns regarding a defendant’s mental competence, it may constitute a violation of their constitutional rights. Recently a Florida court explained what evidence a defendant must produce to show that a trial court harbored a bona fide doubt about their competence in a case in which the defendant appealed his sentence following his conviction for producing child pornography.  If you are charged with a sex offense, it is smart to meet with a dedicated Tampa sex crime defense lawyer to evaluate your possible defenses.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with two counts of producing child pornography. The case proceeded to trial, and he was convicted. The court subsequently sentenced him to 720 months in prison. The defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that the trial court committed an abuse of discretion by denying his motion to undergo a competency evaluation and hearing.

Establishing a Bona Fide Doubt About a Defendant’s Mental Competence

The court declined to adopt the defendant’s reasoning and denied his appeal. In doing so, it explained that it reviewed a district court’s failure to order a competency hearing under the abuse of discretion standard. Continue Reading ›

State and federal governments have the authority to issue punishments for criminal offenses. They cannot do so in a manner that is deemed unusual or cruel, however. As such, if a criminal defendant believes a sentence violates their Eighth Amendment rights against unusual and cruel punishment, they may be able to successfully argue that it should be vacated. Recently, a Florida court discussed what constitutes an unjust sentence in an opinion issued in a sex crime case. If you were charged with a sex offense, it is smart to meet with a dedicated Tampa sex crime defense lawyer to assess your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with three counts of possessing and producing child pornography. He pleaded guilty to two of the charges in exchange for dismissal of the third. The defendant’s plea agreement advised he faced a sentence of between 15 and 30 years imprisonment in total, followed by a term of supervised release from five years to life.

Allegedly, the defendant requested a sentence of 240 months imprisonment based on his history of PTSD, his childhood sexual abuse, and his service as a police officer and in the military. The court sentenced him to a total of 480 months imprisonment,  however, followed by supervised release for the remainder of his life. He appealed, arguing that his sentence constituted a unusual and cruel punishment in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. Continue Reading ›

Under Florida law, there are many crimes that can be committed in multiple ways. In such instances, the prosecution only has to prove that the defendant engaged in the behavior set forth in one method to obtain a conviction. This was demonstrated in a recent ruling issued by a Florida court, in which it affirmed the defendant’s conviction for lewd and lascivious battery. If you are faced with accusations that you committed a sex crime, it is smart to hire a skilled Tampa sex crime defense attorney to help you formulate compelling arguments.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with three counts of sexual battery on an individual under twelve years old. The grounds for the charges were acts that occurred in 2002, involving the defendant’s then nine year old daughter. Following a trial, the jury convicted the defendant of lewd and lascivious battery, a lesser included offense. He appealed on numerous grounds, including the arguments that he could not be convicted of an uncharged offense and that the prosecution failed to establish the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, rendering his conviction improper. The appellate court rejected his arguments and affirmed his conviction.

Elements of Lewd and Lascivious Battery

The appellate court explained that lewd and lascivious battery is a permissive lesser included offense of the crime of sexual battery. Jury instructions regarding permissive lesser included offenses are appropriate and permissible if the allegations of the greater offense contain each of the elements of the lesser offense, and the evidence offered at trial would support a verdict on the lesser offense. Continue Reading ›

When a person is convicted of a crime, the court will often not only sentence them to prison but also require them to make restitution. Criminal defendants and the state frequently disagree over what constitutes reasonable recompense, however. This was illustrated in a recent child pornography case in Florida, where the defendant challenged a $10,000 reparation award to the victim. If you’ve been charged with a child pornography crime, it is in your best interest to speak with a Florida criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

According to reports, the defendant was found guilty of possessing child pornography. He was sentenced to pay $10,000 in compensation to the victim of his crime after his conviction. He filed an appeal, claiming that the amount of compensation awarded did not accurately reflect his role in the victim’s injury, and requesting a new hearing on the restitution decision. The defendant’s request was denied by the appellate court, which upheld the lower court’s decision.

In some criminal matters, the State has little or no direct evidence. Instead, the State’s case against the defendant will be dependent on circumstantial evidence. While circumstantial evidence is frequently accepted, hearsay evidence is not. As a result, a conviction based on hearsay evidence may be subject to reversal, as indicated by a recent Florida judgement in a case where the defendant was convicted of multiple counts of possessing child pornography. If you are suspected of possessing child pornography or any other offense, you should consult with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney to determine your legal options.

The Trial of the Defendant

It is alleged that the defendant was detained and charged with 300 counts of having child pornography. A search warrant was used to gather evidence from his personal computer, which led to his arrest. Hash values are used to detect pornographic photographs of children that are stored in a national database, according to the digital forensic technician who analyzed his device at his trial. Three hundred pornographic images of minors were discovered on the defendant’s computer using this technology.

The digital forensic technician allegedly stated that he was able to identify the majority of the photographs as child pornography without using the hash values assigned to them, but that he couldn’t tell if the person depicted in one image was a child. Nonetheless, the State charged the defendant based on his opinion that a hash value applied to the photograph identified it as child pornography. After being found guilty on all three hundred counts, the defendant filed an appeal, claiming that his conviction was founded on a hearsay testimony that the photograph in question was pornographic. Continue Reading ›

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