If you are being accused of sexual assault in Florida, the most critical thing to do is seek the help of an experienced attorney for sexual assault immediately. The consequences of being convicted for a sexual assault crime are steep, and they can follow you for the rest of your life. You may spend many years in prison, lose custody of your children, and find it near impossible to gain employment or housing.
In Florida, sexual assault crimes are formally referred to as sexual battery. The charges are serious, and judges or juries rarely treat offenders lightly, even if you are falsely accused. That is why you need an attorney for sexual assault to represent you, and you need one now. The sooner that an experienced criminal defense team, such as Weinstein Legal, is working on your sexual battery case, the better chance you have at getting your charge(s) reduced or dismissed. Don't wait.
What is Sexual Assault?
According to the United States Department of Justice, sexual assault is "any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient." It also includes coercion of another person to perform a sexual act and having sexual relations with a person who is unable to give their consent. In the state of Florida, these crimes are defined as sexual battery. The definition is vague and leaves much to interpretation, which is why hiring a sexual assault attorney is so essential.
Sexual battery may or may not include violence. It is a common misconception that violence must occur to be charged with sexual assault, and many are surprised when they suddenly face charges.
- Rape, including marital and statutory rape.
- Groping or non-consensual touching.
- Sexual relations with a child, mentally incapacitated individual, or individual who is not conscious to provide consent.
- Participating in sexual activity with a person who is intoxicated and unable to provide consent.
- Showing a minor pornographic images.
- Exposing your genitals to a child or asking a child to display theirs.
- Producing child pornography.
It is also possible for spouses or members of the same sex to sexually assault another person. These circumstances do not exempt you from being charged.
What to Do When You Are Being Accused of Sexual Assault
There are several things that you should do when being accused of sexual assault that will help your case in court. First, hire a lawyer who is experienced in criminal defense for sexual assault.
If you are arrested and brought to the police station, invoke your right to remain silent and do not answer any questions until you have a lawyer present.
If you request a lawyer, the police are required to stop questioning you immediately. They may not continue until you have legal representation present. Invoking this right may be the single most important thing you do when being accused of such crimes.
Second, make a list that you can share with your sexual assault attorney of witnesses or individuals who may be able to corroborate your innocence. For example, if you are accused of committing sexual battery somewhere you were not, a person that can confirm you were elsewhere may help you gain exoneration.
If you have any documented correspondence with the accuser, such as text messages or online communication that may help your case, share it with your attorney immediately. Additionally, if you are being falsely accused and you know that the individual pressing charges has falsely accused others in the past, provide their contact information to your lawyer as well. No detail is too small.
What Not to Do When You Are Being Accused of Sexual Assault
While there are several things that are imperative you do when being accused of sexual assault, or sexual battery, the things you do not do are just as relevant when forming your case. Do not attempt to contact the person who is charging you, no matter what your motives. Doing so can be used against you in court.
Do not discuss the case with others, as information and stories can often be misconstrued, and gossip can spread, which may lead to false incrimination. Most importantly, do not post anything online regarding the case, the individual who is accusing you, the judicial system, the police, investigators, or other parties who are involved. These statements can also be used against you in the future.
Most importantly, do not answer any questions, whether they be from the police, investigators, or the accusing individual's lawyer, without your lawyer present. You retain your right to remain silent at all times throughout the investigation.
Possible Consequences of a Sexual Assault Conviction
The severity of consequences associated with a sexual assault conviction, is what makes it so vital to hire an experienced sexual assault lawyer to handle your case. If a minor is involved, you may be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life, limiting where you can live, the jobs you can have, and much more.
Additionally, if convicted of sexual battery in Florida, there is a strong likelihood that you will face jail or prison time, followed by a lengthy probation period. Prison sentences for sexual assault can be as long as 25 years to life if the charge is considered violent or if you have prior convictions.
You will likely be served with a restraining order against the individual accusing you, and you may lose custody of your children. The conviction will be on your record for the rest of your life, meaning that potential employers will be able to view it when running a background check. Potential landlords will also be able to see the conviction.
A sexual assault conviction may cost you freedom for the rest of your life. Do not try to go through the court proceedings and legal process on your own. You must hire a sexual assault attorney to represent you and help form your defense.
How a Sexual Assault Attorney Can Help You
An experienced sexual assault lawyer will aggressively fight for your rights in court. Remember that by law, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. What this means is that the burden to provide enough proof that you have committed the alleged sexual battery beyond a reasonable doubt is on the prosecutor and the individual accusing you.
A lawyer will help compile evidence that proves your innocence, contradicting any evidence that the prosecutor may present. Any evidence being presented in court is entered into what is known as "discovery." Your lawyer will have access to it and be able to develop the best defense in response.
Experienced sexual assault lawyers are familiar with the process and court proceedings and know the best way to navigate the system. They will provide you with advice on what to and not to do throughout the investigation to best preserve your reputation.
Florida Statute of Limitations on Sexual Battery
If you are being accused of sexual battery in the "Sunshine State," it's important to know the statue of limitations laws in the state of Florida, as they may greatly help your case. The statute of limitations dictates how long an accuser and prosecutor have to press charges after the alleged incident.
For capital felony cases, there is no statute of limitations, meaning that you can be charged no matter how long ago the offense took place. If there is an act that took place years ago and DNA evidence surfaces that implicates you, you can be charged within one year of the DNA identification.
For most other sexual battery charges in the state of Florida, the statute of limitations is several years. The time frame varies considerably based on the specific charge. You can read a full list of the statutes of limitations for sexual battery charges in the state of Florida here.
Seeking Legal Representation
If you are being accused of sexual battery, you must find legal representation from a sexual assault attorney as soon as possible. The sooner that an experienced criminal defense team like Weinstein Legal begins working on your case, the better outcome your case may have.