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Charged With Sexual Battery In Florida?

Getting arrested and charged with sexual battery in Florida is nothing short of a nightmare. Notably, a conviction can result in the loss of your freedom, reputation, and family relationships. Some instances of sexual battery are obvious. Other times, what seems like sexual battery is nothing of the sort, but instead a false or misplaced accusation by someone who just wants to ruin your life. Without effective legal counsel, things could turn ugly. Let’s take a closer look at what constitutes sexual battery in Florida and what you could do if you are accused.

Sexual Battery Defined

Under Florida law, sexual battery (also known as sexual assault or rape) is oral, vaginal, or anal penetration by the sexual organ of another. It also means the vaginal or anal penetration of someone else by any object. Typically, sexual battery occurs when you compel a victim to engage in sex with you against their will. In Florida, depending on the circumstances, sexual battery could be construed as a third-degree felony up to a capital felony.

As A Capital Felony

If you are at least 18 years of age when you commit sexual battery against someone who is under the age of 12 – or you injure that person’s sexual organs in an attempt to commit sexual battery, then you commit a capital felony under Florida law. If you are convicted of a capital sexual battery, a judge is required to sentence you to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole.

As A Life Felony

If you are under the age of 18 when you commit sexual battery against someone who is under the age of 12 – or you injure that person’s sexual organs in an attempt to commit sexual battery – then this constitutes a life felony in which a life sentence and a maximum $15,000 fine could be imposed. Alternatively, you might receive a split sentence in which you serve an extensive prison sentence and are then subject to community control or probation for the rest of your natural life.

If you commit sexual battery on someone who is at least 12 years old without that person’s consent and you use physical force likely to cause serious personal injury or you threaten to use (or actually use) a deadly weapon, then you commit a life felony that is punishable by a life sentence and a maximum $15,000 fine.

As A First-Degree Felony

There are a couple of instances where sexual battery is a first-degree felony that could still carry a life sentence if convicted. In the first instance, if you are at least 18 years old when you commit sexual battery on someone who is 12-17 years old without that person’s consent, then you commit a first-degree felony which is punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding life and a maximum $10,000 fine if one of these aggravating circumstances applies:

  • The victim is helpless to resist
  • You cause the victim to participate or submit by using coercion, physical force, or violence, or by threatening to use force or violence on them or someone else
  • You administer or have knowledge of someone else administering a narcotic, anesthetic, or other intoxicating substance to the victim (e.g., date rape drug) without their knowledge which renders the victim physically or mentally incapacitated
  • You know that the victim is mentally incapacitated or mentally defective
  • The victim is physically incapacitated
  • You are a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or probation officer who coerces the victim to participate or submit based on your perceived authority or control

In the second instance, if you engage in sexual battery against someone who is at least 12 years old without that person’s consent and where an aggravating circumstance applies, then you commit a first-degree felony which is punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding life and a maximum $10,000 fine if at the time of the offense you have a prior conviction on your record for sexual battery or the following:

  • Kidnapping of a minor where you commit sexual battery or a lewd act
  • False imprisonment of a minor where you commit sexual battery or a lewd act
  • A lewd or lascivious offense committed on or in the presence of someone under 16 years old
  • Prohibited computer transmissions including intentionally masturbating, exposing genitals in a lewd manner, or committing a sexual act when you know or have reason to believe that someone under age 16 is watching

However, Florida law provides an exception for the above instances where there is no physical force and violence likely to cause the victim serious personal injury, in which case those instances are deemed first degree felonies each punishable by a maximum 30-year prison sentence rather than a term of imprisonment not exceeding life.

Aside from the foregoing instances, if you are at least 18 years old and you commit sexual battery against someone who is also 18 years old without that person’s consent and where aggravating circumstances apply, then this constitutes a first-degree felony which is punishable by a maximum 30-year prison sentence and maximum $10,000 fine.

Also, if you are under 18 years old and you commit sexual battery against someone who is at least 12 years old without that person’s consent and where aggravating circumstances apply, then this constitutes a first-degree felony which is punishable by a maximum 30-year prison sentence and maximum $10,000 fine.

As A Second- or Third-Degree Felony

If you are at least 18 years old and you commit sexual battery against someone who is at least 18 years old without their consent and without any physical force or violence likely to cause them serious personal injury, then you commit a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years of imprisonment and a maximum $10,000 fine.

Also, if you are under 18 years old and you commit sexual battery against someone who is at least 12 years old without their consent and without any physical force or violence likely to cause them serious personal injury, then this constitutes a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years of imprisonment and a maximum $10,000 fine.

Finally, if you are in a position of familial or custodial authority (e.g., parent) to someone who is under 18 years old, and you solicit that person to engage in any act constituting sexual battery, then you commit a third-degree felony punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years and a maximum $5,000 fine. However, if in the position of familial or custodial authority you engage in an act with someone between 12-17 years of age, then you commit a first-degree felony, and if the victim is under 12 years old, then it constitutes a life felony or possibly a capital felony.

Consent

Consent under Florida law means knowing, intelligent and voluntary consent – not coerced submission. Consent does not mean the failure of the victim to physically resist. It’s also important to note that incapacitated people and minors cannot provide consent. Consent is a hotly debated issue when it comes to sexual battery cases.

Possible Defenses

Keep in mind that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed sexual battery. You could have done something inappropriate or aggressive, but this does not automatically make it sexual battery. The prosecutor might not have any direct or indirect evidence that supports accusations that are made against you.

For example, it might be unclear whether the alleged victim did not provide consent or lacked capacity. You might have evidence of consent that can be used against your accuser. If there is a legitimate issue as to whether your accuser consented, then you should be found not guilty by a jury.

Relatedly, you might be falsely accused by someone who has a vendetta against you. With an effective defense, your attorney might be able to call into question your accuser’s entire account of the incident.

If You Are Charged With Sexual Battery, You Should Hire An Attorney

If you are accused or charged with sexual battery, whether it is by your accuser, law enforcement, or even a Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) investigator, then you should immediately speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Challenging a sexual battery charge is possible, so don’t lose hope if you have been accused. Remember that the Florida prosecutor’s primary goal is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the offense. If you do not have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side, your problems could worsen.

Getting an attorney involved early is essential for purposes of building a viable defensive strategy. Law Offices of Greg Rosenfeld knows this. Our attorneys have extensive experience protecting the rights of Florida clients who are or might be charged with a criminal offense. If you have been charged with sexual battery, then call (561) 902-1122 or contact us online for a free consultation regarding your case.

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