Not-Guilty Verdict In Palm Beach County Rape Case
On May 1, a six-person jury found a Boca Raton man not guilty of sexual assault in a case from 2017. The jury found that there was insufficient evidence to support the State Attorney’s arguments that the defendant was incapable of consent. While the defendant in this case was cleared of wrongdoing, it is worth keeping in mind that sex crime accusations are taken extremely seriously in Florida, and are prosecuted aggressively. If you have been charged with a sex crime, it is critical that you understand the consequences you face if convicted.
Sexual Violence Defined
Florida does not use terms like rape or statutory rape in its law; rather, these offenses are clustered together under the heading of sexual battery. The definition of sexual battery is quite specific; the act is explicitly and narrowly defined as the nonconsensual “penetration by, or union with, the sexual organs of another” or the penetration of another person with another object. Without the specific acts described in the definition, no sexual battery has taken place (though another type of sexual offense may have occurred, depending on the specific facts of your situation).
In addition, the fact of the injured party’s non-consent must be proven in order to find a defendant guilty – basically, this means that if there is any possibility that the victim might have consented, it creates reasonable doubt that a jury can use to find a defendant not guilty. This is what occurred in the Boca Raton case; there was a debate on whether or not the 18-year old victim consented, and because the issue was not settled, the jury held that reasonable doubt existed. This can be difficult for victims because it can be hard to prove the absence of something, but as of this writing, that is the law in Florida.
Another important fact to keep in mind if you are ever accused of or charged with a sex crime: depending on the specific situation you find yourself in, the intent to commit a sex crime may be enough to cause you serious long-term consequences – in some sex crimes, intent is enough to trigger criminal culpability. If you are convicted, though, the lowest possible sentence for sexual battery is a second degree felony, punishable by stiff fines and up to 5 years in prison. At the other end of the scale, a sexual battery against a minor under the age of 12 can be a life felony (that is, punishable with life in prison without the possibility of parole) or in rare cases, even a capital felony, which carries the death penalty.
Even for the sake of argument, if you are convicted of the lightest possible sex crime charge, you still must be entered on Florida’s sex offender registry, as well as live under restrictions on everything from where to live to where one can work. In the long run, the consequences for a sex crime conviction can last well beyond any prison sentence – which is why, if you are innocent or if there are extenuating circumstances, you must fight hard to avoid conviction.
Call A West Palm Beach Sex Crimes Attorney
Because of the serious and sensitive nature of sex crimes, it is imperative to get an experienced attorney on your side as soon as possible if you have been accused of or charged with such a grievous offense. The West Palm Beach sex crimes lawyers at Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. are ready to put our years of experience to work for you. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.