Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney clients accused of a felony crime – especially one as serious and morally fraught as a sex offense – have told us it feels like the whole world is coming to an end. The reality is arrest is just the beginning of the process. Evidence can be refuted. Witnesses may recant or not be credible. Criminal investigators may do a poor job. There may be lesser crimes to which one can plead that do not have the same stigma or penalty.criminal defense lawyer

Having an skilled criminal defense attorney is imperative. This person will be defending your integrity, your credibility and your civil right to due process and fairness. Because sexual crimes are among the most reviled (and the consequences so steep), it is extremely important that you work with a defense lawyer who has experience and a history of prevailing.

In the state of Florida, sexual battery is described in F.S. 749.011. It’s extensive and there are varying degrees of offense. For example, if you are 18-years-old or older and are accused of sexual battery on a person also older than 18 without that person’s consent, it’s considered a first-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. However, if the defendant did not use physical force and violence likely to cause physical injury, it’s considered a second-degree felony, punishable by 15 years in prison. The offense can be aggravated by a number of circumstances, including the use of a firearm. Continue reading

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office has come under scrutiny after it was revealed a man arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a juvenile last year was charged earlier this month with armed kidnapping and sexual battery of another person in 2003. That case had remained cold for 15 years.criminal defense attorney

At the time, the woman reported to police she was walking on South State Road 7 one night in late December when an unknown man approached with a gun and threatened to shoot her if she struggled or made a scene. She then said the man forced her to a nearby car dealership and sexually assaulted her repeatedly inside a vehicle. The woman survived the attack, reported it to police and a rape kit was performed and submitted to the crime laboratory at the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. But nothing happened. Defendant has a lengthy criminal record and documents from the Hollywood Police Department show their agency received a crime lab report from Broward in 2006 indicating a routine search of their national DNA database had returned a possible lead in the 2003 case with this particular defendant. It’s unclear why neither agency followed up.

A 2014 audit of practices at the Hollywood Police Department, according to NBC Miami, revealed the agency had dozens of sexual assault evidence kits stowed away in a locked evidence room, rather than submitted to a crime laboratory. Once the audit was finished, two arrests were made in the two dozen cases that were reviewed. The chief reported at the time that he was establishing a special unit solely to handle rape kit analysis.  Continue reading

Comedian Bill Cosby’s conviction for aggravated indecent assault was born of a set of highly unique circumstances. It involved a civil case deposition that was previously sealed. It involved a high-profile defendant. It involved a previous agreement not to prosecute (one the Pennsylvania DA simply ignored). But perhaps one of the most important unique elements of this case is the testimony from previous victims. criminal defense

While the case isn’t likely to serve as an exact blue print for how we might expect future sexual assault investigations to go, but we could well see a difference in criminal defense lawyer strategies. Attitudes both inside and outside the courtroom toward accusers and alleged victims of sexual assault and harassment are changing in the er of #MeToo.

Take for instance the fact that when this case first went to trial, none of Cosby’s other accusers (and there are many) were allowed to testify because, as the court reasoned, those incidents had nothing to do with the specific accusations against the defendant in this incident. Andrea Constand accused the star of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his mansion in 2004. Constand is gay and was in a relationship with a woman at the time of the incident, despite Cosby’s insistence that this encounter – and several others prior – were consensual.  Continue reading

A county commissioner in his 70s has been immediately suspended by the governor following his arrest on multiple misdemeanors alleging prostitution. The commissioner, from Hernando County, reportedly wrote the governor and asked he be suspended effective July 17th – significant because that’s the day after which it would be too late to put his elected seat on the ballot this year. Gov. Rick Scott chose instead to remove him from the post right away.prostitution defense

The Miami Herald reports the commissioner was arrested for:

  • One count operating a location for the purposes of lewdness, assignation or prostitution;
  • Two counts purchasing services from a person engaged in prostitution.

Both of these are violations of different parts of F.S. 796.07, which prohibits prostitution and related acts. A first offense for any of this is considered a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail. But for many individuals, like this defendant, the problem is less about the jail time (though two months in jail could easily cost one his or her employment) or even the maximum $5,000 fine. The more troubling aspect is the permanent stain on his or her criminal record record. Continue reading

Being charged with a sex crime is much different than being charged with basically any other crime.  While some people will tend to assume you are guilty even if there has never been a trial, not everyone will believe so, and you are still presumed innocent unless and until you are found guilty in a court of law.

Broward Criminal DefenseHowever, when you are charged with a sex crime, especially with a complaining witness (alleged victim) who was a minor at the time of the alleged offense, everyone will act like you are a monster and assume you are guilty.  While you still have the same legal protections and are entitled to a presumption of innocence, it seems like all of that goes out the window in practical terms. Continue reading

After 3.5 hours of deliberations, a Broward County jury acquitted a Pembroke Pines man of molesting his two stepdaughters three years ago, as they had accused. The 52-year-old was facing a possible sentence of life in prison if convicted on the charges, which included four counts of capital sexual battery, eight counts of lewd and lascivious molestation and a single count of lewd and lascivious conduct. courtroom

In closing arguments, prosecutors asserted there was no possible way defendant could innocently explain the conduct the two girls described. The accusers, now ages 11 and 14, alleged defendant touched them inappropriately, bathed with them and one claimed he shaved her. Prosecutors claimed there was no justification for any of this.

As our Broward defense attorneys know, one would have a difficult time justifying such actions – if such actions were proven. However, the facts of this case persuaded jurors to find there was a lack of proof these incidents actually happened in the first place. Perhaps a significant part of that was the fact that the allegations didn’t surface until the divorce proceedings filed by their mother were nearing an end. The pair reportedly had a brief marriage which was also tumultuous. The girls say they didn’t come forward initially because they did not understand that the contact he was initiating was unusual. Defense attorneys, meanwhile, assert the story was dreamed up by the girls’ mother as a way to escape from the marriage without jeopardizing her immigration status.  Continue reading

A 20-year-old sheriff’s deputy from Broward County has been arrested for allegedly attempting to extort sex from a security guard by threatening to charge him with possession of crack cocaine. policecar

Deputies from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office arrested Trazell McLeod, alleging he groped the male guard during a purported search and then demanded sex on a regular basis in exchange for not falsifying charges of drug possession and prostitution. McLeod is accused of propositioning the guard and even showing up at his house while he was on patrol in Pompano Beach. At one point during the encounter, the guard, concerned for his safety, fled on foot and jumped a fence and hid behind a cluster of bushes until his wife arrived. The guard and his wife returned home to see a patrol car parked in their driveway, so they drove past and spent the evening in a hotel. The following day, the guard reported the incident to investigators with the sheriff’s department’s internal affairs office. He also assisted them in gathering evidence used to obtain McLeod’s arrest warrant.

McLeod is facing charges of extortion, official misconduct and tampering with/ fabricating evidence. F.S. 836.05, threats/ extortion, states that anytime someone – verbally or by a written or printed communication, maliciously threatens to accuse someone of a crime or to expose a secrete affecting the other or impute “some deformity or lack of chastity” in order to extort money or “any pecuniary advantage” or to compel someone to do something against their will, it’s a second-degree felony. That means it’s punishable by 15 years in prison. Tampering with evidence, meanwhile, is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, according to F.S. 918.13. Official misconduct, per F.S. 838.022, is also a third-degree felony.  Continue reading

As our technology rapidly evolves, so too must our justice system. As we are often faced with ever-newer technological frontiers, courts are often grappling with how the law should be applied. computer1

One such case recently before the Florida Supreme Court highlights this. In Smith v. State, the court was asked to resolve a conflict between this ruling handed down by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in 2015 and an earlier ruling in 2013 in Biller v. State by Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal. At issue was whether the use of a file-sharing program for purposes of disseminating child pornography in fact violates the statutory prohibition on transmitting child porn.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled: Yes, it does. That means the precedent set by the 5th DCA is overturned, and those who transmit illegal sexual images of children via  file-sharing program can be charged under F.S. 847.0137. Continue reading

A U.S. Army sergeant is facing serious felony charges after the 26-year-old reportedly showed up at an agreed-upon location with lubricant, candy, condoms and cash for what he thought would be an encounter with two young girls, ages 12 and 14.computer1

Instead, was greeted by agents with both the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He apparently did not realize he had been communicating with an undercover law enforcement officer.

According to the Sun Sentinel, Alexis Kirk Torres was reportedly in the process of transferring from Hawaii to a new base for a different assignment. However, he now faces charges of soliciting or enticing underage children to engage in a commercial sex act. Continue reading

Often when a law enforcement officer is working long hours, it’s a sign of diligence. However, for the colleagues of Broward County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Kreg Costa, suspicions were heightened because the road duty supervisor was staying in his office during and after his shift with the lights off and uniform and gun belt removed. Staffers who witnessed his behavior called it “bizarre.” police2

Detectives with the agency’s public corruption unit launched an investigation that included asking for computer use reports from the sergeant’s work laptop from January to March. That’s when they found images of hardcore pornography, bondage and incest-related sites. Further he was reportedly engaging in sexually explicit messages with a 16-year-old girl on both video chats and Twitter. Costa allegedly instructed the California teen to record herself engaged in sexual activity.

Costa was arrested when he arrived at work for a scheduled training. He has been suspended without pay and faces a total of 29 serious criminal charges, including soliciting a child for unlawful sexual conduct using a computer, use of a child in sexual performance, possession of child pornography and lewd lascivious battery. Continue reading