Accused of committing a sex crime? In addition to facing social stigma, a conviction of a sex crime can come with harsh criminal penalties. Those who are accused of these crimes are wise to take the accusations seriously. A basic understanding of the legal definitions and applicable penalties can help those accused of these crimes to understand the life changing consequences that can come with a conviction.
Florida state law: Definition of sexual battery crimes
In legal terms, a rape is referred to as sexual battery. A sexual battery is defined by Florida law as:
[O]ral, 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.
Unfortunately, a number of terms within this statute are not clearly defined. The Florida Council Against Sexual Violence notes that this lack of clarity has resulted in litigation, specifically over the definition of the terms "union" and "penetration". In the case Richards v. State, the court distinguished that union was "contact with the relevant portion of anatomy, whereas penetration requires some entry into the relevant part, however slight."
Florida state law: Penalties associated with sexual battery crimes
Those who are 18 years of age or older and are accused of committing sexual battery, or in an attempt to commit sexual battery injures the sexual organs of, a person under the age of 12 are accused of committing a capital felony. If convicted of this crime, a separate sentencing proceeding will be conducted to determine if the accused should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment. Those who are under the age of 18 and commit the same crime are charged with a life felony.
Commission of a sexual battery on a person 12 years old or older without the person’s consent in the following circumstances is charged with a first degree felony:
- Victim was helpless to resist.
- The accused allegedly coerced the victim to submit by threat of force or violence that could cause serious personal injury to the victim and the victim reasonably believed that the accused had the ability to follow through on the threat.
- The accused allegedly coerced the victim to submit by the threat to retaliate against the victim, or any other person, and the victim reasonably believed the accused would execute the threat in the future.
- The accused, without the prior knowledge or consent of the victim, administers or has knowledge of someone else administering to the victim, any narcotic, anesthetic, or other intoxicating substance that mentally or physically incapacitates the victim.
- The victim is mentally defective, and the accused has reason to believe this or has actual knowledge of the fact.
- The victim is physically incapacitated.
A first degree felony conviction can come with a sentence of thirty years imprisonment.
These are just some of the penalties that can result from a conviction. Additional penalties may be applied depending on the details of the case.
Legal counsel can help
Those who are accused or charged with these crimes should know that defenses are available. Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to discuss your options and better ensure your legal rights are protected.