Florida Sex Crime Penalties And Legal Defenses
If you have been accused of a sex crime, prison time is just one of many consequences you face. A prison sentence will have an end, but the social stigma can follow you for the rest of your life. A sex crime conviction on your permanent record can disqualify you from many professions and make pre-hire background checks a nightmare.
You are scared and you have every reason to be. With so much at stake, you cannot afford to work with anyone less than an experienced, proven and respected criminal trial lawyer. Contact O’Brien Hatfield, P.A., today for a free initial consultation.
“Plant High School teacher Mary Lynn Vu’s attorney, Mark J. O’Brien, released a statement praising the prosecutor’s decision to not charge his client with having sexual relations with a student.”
– Tampa Bay Times
Protecting Your Rights, Your Name And Your Future
At O’Brien Hatfield, P.A., with locations in Tampa and Orlando, we offer aggressive defenses for those charged with any type of sexual offense. We are not here to judge – we are here to ensure that you receive the vigorous representation and protection of legal rights to which all citizens are entitled. We provide discreet and respectful defense in cases involving:
- Human trafficking and sex trafficking
- Creation and distribution of pornography
- Possession of pornography
- Sting operations
We have obtained outcomes that protect the rights and reputations of our clients, saving them from the ultimate consequences of sex-related charges. This includes representing a client who was being investigated and facing two counts of sexual battery on a minor, an offense that could have resulted in a 60-year prison sentence. We resolved the matter, preventing an arrest, avoiding charges and ensuring that our client was not named.
How We Can Fight Your Charges: Three Keys To Success
If you face allegations of sexual assault or another sex crime, your freedom is on the line. You likely have more questions than answers right now, wondering how to beat a sexual assault charge or a false rape accusation. As you think about your future and begin identifying your legal options, it is important to remember one thing: It is possible to beat a sex crime charge.
At the law firm of O’Brien Hatfield, P.A., we can help you. We have extensive experience defending our clients against sex-based charges in Florida. There are many components to a successful defense, but the following are the three keys you need to consider.
1. Hire An Attorney With Experience
You only get one chance to defeat these damaging charges, and you cannot afford to leave that chance in the hands of an attorney who is figuring things out as he or she goes along. We have experience taking these cases to trial and achieving the best possible outcomes for people facing charges such as sexual battery, pornography possession and sexual exploitation.
2. Do Not Talk About Your Case With Anyone Before You Talk To Your Attorney
You have nothing to gain by trying to go out and defend your reputation on your own, confronting accusers or even cooperating with a police investigation. Even if you have done nothing wrong, there are significant risks when speaking without counsel present.
3. Do Not Wait For Charges
If your charges were a surprise, that is OK; we can help you. But if you believe you are under investigation or someone has accused you of a crime, do not wait for charges to be filed to get in touch with us. The sooner you have us working on your case, the sooner we can gather evidence, pursue a dismissal, negotiate a plea or prepare for a possible trial.
Your rights, your reputation and your freedom are all on the line if you have been accused of a sex crime. Contact us immediately for a free consultation with a proven defense lawyer.
Sexual Offenses: Definitions And Punishments
Whether you have been accused of, are under investigation for or have been charged with a sex crime, you need to understand the terms that are being thrown around regarding your situation.
You also need to know what the potential consequences of a conviction are so that you and your defense lawyer can work toward the best possible outcome.
Rape Or Sexual Battery
Under Florida law, rape goes by the term “sexual battery.” Florida law defines sexual battery as: “oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object; however, sexual battery does not include an act done for a bona fide medical purpose.”
A sexual battery conviction will be accompanied by harsh criminal penalties such as:
- The possibility of life imprisonment or death for an adult committing sexual battery against a person under the age of 12 (possibility of a life sentence for someone under the age of 18)
- A prison sentence up to 30 years for sexual battery against a person 12 years of age or older without consent
Exposing Sexual Organs (Indecent Exposure)
This charge covers the act of exposing oneself to another person publicly or privately in a way that can be seen by the public. This is a first-degree misdemeanor that can result in a punishment of up to one year in jail.
Voyeurism And The Legal Expectation Of Privacy
Under Florida law, voyeurism is furtively witnessing or recording, with a distasteful or lewd intent, a person engaged in intimate activities while in his or her vehicle, residence or building. Intimate acts may include sexual activity, bathing or showering, changing clothes or undressing, or any other activity that is usually private.
Possibly the most important component of a voyeurism case is whether the person who was watched or recorded had a reasonable expectation of privacy at the time of the incident. Watching someone in a relatively public location is not voyeurism – hiding behind a bush for the purpose of watching someone shower may be.
Committing An ‘Unnatural And Lascivious Act’
The actual acts that can lead to this charge are not clearly defined by the law, but charges are often leveled in cases where someone is accused of committing a sexually offensive act in front of another person or out in public. This second-degree misdemeanor can result in punishment of up to 60 days in jail.
Fighting Unlawful Prosecutions Of Sex Crimes
An essential element of a powerful defense against any sex crime charge boils down to this: Is the prosecution basing charges on evidence that was obtained unlawfully? To obtain evidence against a suspect, police investigators sometimes use unlawful means. If police did not have probable cause, did not execute a warrant correctly or otherwise engaged in unlawful search and seizure, the case against you may not have a leg to stand on.
Did police engage in entrapment unlawfully as a means by which to build a case against you? A detailed analysis of your case will reveal whether the prosecution is based on unlawfully admitted evidence. This type of evidence, once suppressed, may give you the most desirable outcome in your child pornography case: dismissal.
Were You A Victim Of Malicious Prosecution?
On the other hand, you may have been unjustly charged with a sex crime that you did not commit. If you can prove that you are being prosecuted to destroy your reputation (rather than on the basis of solid, legally obtained evidence against you), you may have grounds to sue the prosecutor. In rare cases, plaintiffs have won thousands of dollars in damages for malicious prosecution.
A Strong Defense Against Sex Tourism Charges
Traveling to a region for the purpose of engaging in illegal sexual activity such as prostitution or sex with minors, commonly referred to as sex tourism, is a serious crime.
As with any sex offense, the penalties for a sex tourism conviction are severe. In addition to the social stigma, it is likely that you would be unable to find and keep employment or even a place to live.
Protecting Your Rights, Your Name And Your Future
There are many options for defense in a criminal sexual matter. Depending on your circumstances, we can fight for dismissal or lessened charges due to lack of a credible witness, lack of physical evidence, illegally obtained evidence and consensual acts. The bottom line: When you work with our law firm, we will provide you with a wide range of options to protect your best interests and your future.
Florida Sex Crime Defense Lawyer
Our results show why so many others have trusted us with their criminal matters. For a free consultation, call our firm at 813-440-2347 or contact us online. Our Tampa sex crimes lawyers are ready to help those throughout Florida defend themselves.