Sexual Battery Defense Attorney in West Palm Beach

When you face sexual battery accusations, you need an experienced West Palm Beach attorney to defend against the allegations.

Getting accused of a sex crime in West Palm Beach or elsewhere in Florida can ruin your life. A conviction can affect your liberty, reputation, career, schooling, and more. The sad part is that many people get convicted of sexual crimes they didn’t commit.

When facing a sexual battery charge, you need a sex crime lawyer to defend your rights and fight to obtain a favorable outcome. Remember that sexual battery cases often receive significant publicity. For this reason, defendants tend to face discrimination and prejudice from law enforcement officers, juries, and other parties involved in the case.

The sexual battery attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. believe you deserve aggressive defense when charged with a sex crime. We provide a vigorous defense to protect your rights, freedom, and record from the most severe sexual battery allegations.


What is Sexual Battery?

Sexual battery often gets confused with rape, but the two forms of sexual assault differ. Although both are sexual crimes, rape generally involves forceful intercourse or sexual penetration, while sexual battery doesn’t. Instead, it’s legally defined as forcible sexual contact with intimate parts and can occur when the victim is unclothed or clothed.

Sexual penetration doesn’t need to happen for someone to get convicted of sexual battery. In Florida, for instance, forcible touching, grabbing, kissing, or fondling of the victim’s intimate parts can constitute a sexual battery charge. Moreover, one can face sexual battery charges if a victim is forced to kiss, touch, or grab the defendant’s intimate parts.

Rape is categorized as sexual battery under Florida Statutes section 794.011. The Florida statute on sexual battery stipulates that one can only get convicted if it’s proved that a penetration, either vaginally, anally, or orally occurred. Lack of consent must be proven if the victim is below 12 years old.


Is Sexual Assault a Felony or Misdemeanor?

In Florida, sexual assault can either be a misdemeanor or a felony. The categorization will depend on the nature of the crime and the ages of the victim and defendant. The charges may not be severe in states where sexual battery isn’t considered rape.

You may still face felony charges even when no penetration happened. This includes instances such as when there’s skin-to-skin contact and the victim and defendant are unclothed. Any form of sexual contact with a minor below 12 years or an unconscious person qualifies as a felony.

“Nonconsensual” in Sexual Battery Cases

Sexual battery primarily involves the nonconsensual or forced sexual penetration of the victim. In Florida, “nonconsensual” sex occurs when the victim doesn’t consent. Generally, consent doesn’t imply the victim failing to resist intercourse but agreeing to sexual contact without being coerced, threatened, or forced.

The consent issue is among the critical considerations in sexual battery cases in Florida. Generally, there’s a caveat that there mustn’t be proof that the victim tried to resist or protested the sexual advances. In sexual battery cases involving minors, consent or the lack of it can be the solitary factor that determines the defendant’s fate.


Sexual Battery Penalties in Florida

Sexual Battery Lawyer

Few criminal offenses in Florida carry harsher punishments than sex crimes. The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. in West Palm Beach expertly defend clients against sexual battery accusations to ensure they obtain a favorable outcome.

We understand the elements of sexual battery and the potential penalties that overzealous prosecutors can propose. For this reason, we commit to providing robust legal representation to our clients and ensuring their rights are fully protected. The potential penalties for sexual battery in Florida depend on the categorization of the offense:

Capital Felony Sexual Battery

If the defendant is older than 18 years and the victim is younger than 12 years, sexual battery will be charged as a capital felony. In this case, the defendant could face the death penalty if convicted.

Life Felony Sexual Battery

The criminal offense is likely to be charged as a “life felony” if a defendant is under 18 and the accuser is younger than 12. In this case, the defendant can be jailed for life if found guilty. Similarly, sexual battery can be charged as a life felony if the defendant threatens to use or uses physical force or a deadly weapon that can cause serious injury.

First-Degree Felony Sexual Battery

In some cases, sexual battery is charged as a first-degree felony, and a conviction can attract a jail term of up to 30 years.

Second-Degree Felony Sexual Battery

In Florida, sexual battery can be charged as a second-degree felony offense that attracts a jail term of up to 15 years.

Additional Penalties

Besides imprisonment, Florida law dictates specific penalties that courts can impose. The additional penalties include:

  • Up to $10,000 in fines.
  • 15-year sexual offender probation.
  • Registration as a sexual offender.

When you get convicted of sexual battery, you won’t qualify to receive a sentence reduction.


Florida Statutory Rape Charges

Florida Statute Section 794.05 outlines that it’s criminal for someone aged 24 years and above to participate in sexual acts with a minor aged 16 or 17 years, even if it was consensual. Also known as statutory rape, the crime often gets charged as a second-degree felony and is punishable by a jail term of up to 15 years. Similarly, the statute outlines that the victim’s prior sexual conduct cannot be part of the defense.

The Sexual Offenders’ Registry

Registering as a sex offender is the most significant penalty if you get convicted of sexual battery in Florida or elsewhere. You must register as a sex offender after your jail term, and the status is lifelong. You must follow strict requirements, including residential restrictions. Other restrictions include keeping off from parks and other places where kids may gather.

If you get placed on the list as a minor, your name will stay there for the rest of your life. Undoubtedly, this will deny you many opportunities, including employment, housing, and school. For this reason, you need an experienced sex crimes attorney to defend you when facing sexual battery charges in west Palm Beach.


Why It’s Difficult to Defend Sexual Battery Cases

Sexual battery charges are more difficult to defend than other criminal cases. Prosecutors know this too well and may try to pin you down using circumstantial evidence. Defending these charges can be challenging due to these reasons:

Biases By Jurors

Juries are critical to a properly functioning justice system. Nonetheless, jurors are also susceptible to bias and prejudices. Some may come to court with biases about sexual interactions between the genders. In this case, it might be difficult for the defendant to receive a fair trial.

Reasonable Doubt

In cases whereby jurors don’t have a bias toward the victim or defendant, the issue of reasonable doubt may come into play. That’s particularly the case if the defendant looks like the Hollywood representation of sex offenders.

Delayed Reporting

Generally, it takes courage for sexual battery victims to make the allegations. Sexual battery victims may feel shamed or fail to realize that they were victims of a sex crime. A crafty prosecutor can use this to file charges based on circumstantial and of-weak evidence.

An aggressive attorney from the law offices of Meltzer & Bell, P.A. can disprove the allegations by arguing that there’s no evidence to support them. We may also point out that the delay was malicious or had an underlying motive to fabricate a story.

Defending Against Sexual Battery Charges

In sexual battery cases, convictions rely on “your word against theirs,” and juries often favor the victim. As the go-to sex crimes lawyers in West Palm Beach, we know this too well but work to ensure defendants’ rights are upheld.

In line with this, we unearth facts behind the case to ascertain whether the accuser gave their consent before the alleged sexual activity or has a motive for making false claims. Our team delves into all aspects of the accusations and works tirelessly to defend your rights and secure the second chance you deserve.

Defense Strategies in Sexual Battery Cases

Here are some of the defense strategies we can deploy to counter the sexual battery accusations you face:

  • Pretrial Defenses

During the pretrial phase of your case, we can fight the sex battery accusations by presenting evidence to dispute the allegations. Our counter-evidence may include psychological evaluations, letters supporting your character, polygraph test results, and proof that the alleged victim has made unfounded sexual battery accusations in the past.

  • Trial Defenses

During your trial, the defense strategies we can use include producing an alibi to prove that you weren’t present when the alleged crime happened. We may also argue that yours was an issue of mistaken identity by the accuser or that psychological conditions prevented you from understanding what you’re accused of doing. Moreover, we can undertake forensic DNA testing to prove your innocence.

  • Alternative Defenses

Given the severity of sex battery penalties in Florida, we can ask you to plead guilty to a lesser offense. Likewise, we can ask you to admit to committing a sexual offense but assert that it shouldn’t be considered a crime because your accuser consented to the sexual activity or you didn’t use force, coercion, or threats of force. An affirmative defense isn’t an admission of guilt but explains why the offense shouldn’t get tried as a crime.

Statute of Limitations for Sexual Battery Cases in Florida

The statute of limitations implies the filing deadlines. Your accuser has a limited time frame within which they can press criminal charges against you. Nevertheless, the severity of sexual battery allegations in Florida means the statute of limitations can get vacated. If that’s the case, the sexual battery accusations can get filed at any time.

Furthermore, the Federal government and the state of Florida have their own statutes of limitations for criminal cases, including sexual battery. In Florida, the statute of limitations is determined by the severity of the accusations. If the accuser files the charges outside the statute of limitations, the court will dismiss them.

The following time limits come into play in sexual battery cases:

  • Capital felony sexual battery offenses have no time deadlines.
  • Second or third-degree felonies have a three-year statute of limitations.
  • First-degree felony charges must get filed within four years of the crime.

Can the Statute of Limitations be Terminated?

The statute of limitations in Florida sexual battery cases can get vacated if certain factors were present when the sexual crime occurred. These factors include:

  • If the victim was below 18 years when the sexual battery occurred. In this case, the prosecution can file criminal charges at any time.
  • There’s no limitation period if the sexual battery is considered a first or second-degree felony against a minor who is 16 years or older and gets reported within 72 hours of its commission.

Contact a Sexual Battery Attorney

Sex battery accusations have life-long implications, especially if you get convicted. Prosecutors in West Palm Beach relentlessly pursue the charges to secure convictions, and courts show little leniency to individuals accused of sexual battery. The last thing you want is weak or no representation when facing the charges.

The experienced attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. believe you’re entitled to a strong defense regardless of the severity of the accusations you face. We provide astute representation to defendants, knowing too well that everyone deserves a second chance. Similarly, we don’t want the charges to ruin your life and future prospects.

With so much at stake, you deserve the best-in-class representation, so let us advocate aggressively on your behalf and secure a favorable outcome for you. Contact us to schedule a free case consultation.

FAQs

What is a sexual battery charge in Florida?

Section 794.011 of the Florida Statute defines sexual battery as forcibly engaging in sexual activity with an individual against their will.

Is there a difference between rape and sexual battery in Florida?

Rape and sexual battery can be used interchangeably in Florida. Therefore, they attract similar penalties.

Should I hire an attorney when facing sexual battery accusations?

Yes, you need an attorney, even if you think you’re innocent. A sexual battery attorney can defend your rights and ensure you get a fair trial.

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