In Florida, sexual battery crimes are offenses that, depending on the severity, can result in different penalties. However, for some people this term can get easily confused with other sex crimes. Therefore, understanding the definition of sexual battery in Florida is important.
As defined by Florida Statute § 794.011, a sexual battery offense consists of any type of sexual penetration without the other party’s consent. Non-consensual contact of a sexual nature using any object also qualifies for this charge. Sexual battery may also be known as rape or sexual assault.
In Florida, a sexual battery charge can result in severe penalties that might affect the alleged offender’s future and freedom. Understanding your rights, the criminal justice system and having the right defense might help reduce your charges or have them dropped altogether.
What Does Sexual Battery Mean in Florida?
Being charged with a sexual battery offense means that the alleged offender is being accused of performing a contact of sexual nature without the other person’s consent.
According to Florida § 794.011, this non-consensual act consists of any anal, oral or vaginal penetration of another by any other object. However, this does not include an act done for a genuine medical purpose.
This offense can be charged as an aggravated sexual battery if aggravating factors were present during the incident. The penalties for aggravated sexual battery charges are harsher.
Some aggravating circumstances for sexual battery may include:
- The perpetrator was (or the victim believed he was) in a position of authority such as law enforcement officer, teacher, parent, guardian, etc.
- Threats of personal harm to the victim or his/her loved ones. This may include the use of deadly weapons such as knives or firearms, or future harm or retaliation.
- There was use of force and violence that resulted or might have caused great bodily harm or a physical injury resulting in permanent disability or disfigurement.
- The victim was physically or mentally incapacitated. For example, the victim was asleep, was drugged or incapacitated for the perpetrator, or had a mental disease or defect.
- The sexual battery took place with a child under 12 years old or a child between the ages of 12 and 18.
What is the Sentence for Sexual Battery in Florida?
In Florida, sexual battery offenses are charged as a felony. As a result, the accused faces a severe sentence including fines and prison time. However, the penalties for these offenses depend on the accused’s past criminal record, the age of both the victim and the offender and the presence of aggravating circumstances.
|Circumstances||Felony||Maximum Imprisonment||Maximum Fine|
|Sexual battery||Second degree||15 years||$10,000|
|Sexual battery + aggravating factors||First degree||30 years||$10,000|
|Victim of 12 to 18 years old||Life felony||Lifetime||$15,000|
|Perpetrator 18 years old or more and victim under 12 years old||Capital felony||Lifetime no chance of early release|
No matter what the level of felony charge might be, in Florida, an individual convicted of sexual assault must register as a sex offender and remain registered for life, and comply with all requirements thereof. A convicted sexual predator cannot ever legally petition for release from these provisions. A convicted sex offender can after 25 years.
What to Do If Accused of a Sexual Battery in Florida?
Sex crimes are taken very seriously in Florida. This means that the accused could face severe penalties that can affect their freedom and reputation. When accused of a sex crime, the best things a person could do are:
- Do not talk to the police without a lawyer: after being arrested, a person has the right to remain silent and the right to counsel. Providing a statement without the presence of an attorney, could be detrimental to your case. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your attorney may find a way to reduce your charges or have them dropped.
- Do not talk to the victim: when a person is accused of sexual battery, it is important that they cease any communication with the accuser or victim. If there is any type of contact or communication, you may create more evidence that can be used against you.
- Gather evidence and witnesses: whether you are working with an attorney or not, the person in charge of your defense should collect evidence that can help your case. Examples of this are emails, photos, or GPS records that can show where you were at the time of the incident.
- Make a list of potential witnesses: in addition to the collected evidence, you should also identify possible witnesses that can provide favorable information about the incident.
- Create a timeline: take note of the circumstances that surrounded the incident while your memory is still fresh. Include possible witnesses, locations and other useful information for your defense.
Can Sexual Battery Charges Be Dropped?
If a sexual battery allegation was based on incorrect information or a false accusation, the prosecutor may choose to dismiss the charges. Additionally, if there’s not enough evidence against the accused, the charges may be dropped.
When it comes to sex crimes charges, the strategies that a lawyer might pursue will depend on the circumstances that surrounded the case, the presence of aggravating factors and the accused’s past criminal record.
Some defenses to beat a sexual battery case may include:
- Consent: the sexual act occurred with the agreement of the victim who was old enough as well as physically and mentally able to give their consent.
- Wrong identity: due to different factors, the victim might have mistaken the accused with the actual perpetrator’s identity.
- False accusations: the allegations are false and respond to other motives such as revenge or shame to admit accountability for the sexual activity.
- Violations of rights: if at some stage of the case, a law enforcement officer violated the accused’s rights, a criminal lawyer might use this as a defense and request the evidence to be suppressed.
- Insanity: based on the results provided by a mental evaluation, a criminal defense lawyer might prove that the accused was insane (temporarily or permanently) at the time of the offense.
Contact a Sex Crime Attorney
Goldman Wetzel is a criminal defense law firm that represents clients accused of criminal sex offenses in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area and surrounding areas.
If you have been arrested or accused of sexual battery charges, contact our sex crime attorneys to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.