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.
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.
Defenses in these cases can be difficult, but understand first of all it’s the prosecution that has the burden of proof, which is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors typically won’t go to trial on a sexual assault case unless they believe there is a pretty strong chance they can win it. If you don’t have solid legal representation, your freedom may be imperiled.
Cold Case Florida Sexual Assault Trial Ends in Acquittal
A recent story out of Ocala details a case wherein a man accused of rape and burglary was acquitted. This is the second-best outcome one can hope for here (the first being the charges are never filed in the first place because your defense attorney is able to present investigators ahead of time with evidence that destroys their case or puts it on very thin ice).
As reported by Ocala.com, the 27-year-old defendant was arrested last November when investigators reportedly discovered his DNA at the scene of the crime. At the time of the arrest, defendant was resident in Virginia as an active-duty U.S. Army soldier. He was accused of burglary into a home with battery, sexual battery with firearm and misrepresenting himself as a police officer. Before trial, the last charge was dropped, but still pursued the charges of burglary and sexual battery.
The accuser, 67, told police a man came to her evidence, put a gun to her head, told her he was a police officer, put the gun on the nightstand an then raped her. He told her that if she struggled against him, he would shoot her in the back. After several sexual assaults, she alleged the assailant stole $50 from her before leaving.
The alleged assault occurred in 2009, but no arrest was made until 2017. Upon arrest, defendant immediately requested a criminal defense attorney. At the time of the incident, defendant had just graduated from high school. Police said at time of arrest they believed it likely defendant had committed similar crimes in other areas, but he was never arrested or charged with any others.
His decision to request an attorney right away was one of the best he could have made – even among those who are wholly innocent. It doesn’t mean you won’t speak to police. Rather, it means you will not do so without the benefit of an attorney by your side to ensure you are not inadvertently jeopardizing your rights or offering statements that could later be used against you in court.
The other important thing to point out about this case is that DNA is not infallible evidence, and you should not assume that police or prosecutors’ insistence that this proves your guilt doesn’t mean it’s an open-and-shut case. A dedicated criminal defense lawyer can help you suppress potentially damaging evidence and/ or raise an adequate level of reasonable doubt.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Man acquitted of rape, burglary charges, Aug. 2, 2018, By Katie Pohlman, Ocala.com
More Blog Entries:
Possible Spike in Broward Sex Crime Arrests as Assault Kits Increasingly Being Tested, May 21, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Sex Crimes Defense Attorney Blog