Sexual Battery

Palm Beach Gardens Sex Crime Defense

Sexual battery, also known as sexual assault or rape, is a felony in Florida. The circumstances of the crime, such as the victim’s age and any use of force, will determine the severity of the crime and penalties. Sexual offenses are serious crimes, so it is important to retain the services of an attorney if you have been charged with sexual battery or another offense.

Sexual Battery

Sexual battery encompasses several offenses that were previously listed separately in Florida’s statutes, including rape, sodomy, and indecent assault. Sexual battery occurs when a person compels;

  • Oral, anal, or vaginal penetration or union with another’s sexual organ; or
  • Anal or vaginal penetration by any other object.

Conviction for sexual battery requires a lack of consent on the part of the victim. This includes instances when victim is incapable of giving consent. Victims are legally incapable of consenting to sexual activity when they are under 12 years old. A victim can be mentally incapable of consenting when, for example, he or she is unconscious.

Aggravated Sexual Battery

When certain aggravating circumstances accompany a sexual battery, the offender will be charged with a more serious felony. Aggravating circumstances include situations where:

  • The victim is physically unable to resist;
  • The offender coerces the victim by threat of force or violence;
  • The offender coerces the victim by threat of retaliation against the victim or any other person;
  • The offender administers, or has knowledge of another administering, any narcotic, anesthetic, or intoxicant without the victim’s consent;
  • The offender is aware of the victim’s mental incapacity;
  • The victim is physically incapacitated; or
  • The offender is a correctional officer or other authority figure in a detention center or similar setting.

More serious charges will also result if the victim is under age 18 or under age 12, the offender used or threatened to use a deadly weapon, or the offender used physical force likely to injure the victim when committing the crime.

Defenses

The two main defenses used in sexual battery cases are consent and false allegations. A defendant may claim that the sexual activity was consensual. Consent in Florida must be voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently made. If a victim was incapacitated or too intoxicated to consent, the jury may find that no consent was given. The failure to physically resist does not constitute consent, but is a fact of the case that the jury may take into account. Coercion, whether through force, threat, or intimidation, negates any consent given by a victim.

False allegations of sexual battery are sadly common in Florida. Accusers may be afraid of being caught in an affair, accuse a defendant for manipulative reasons, or suffer from mental illness. If a defendant has been falsely accused of sexual battery, the accuser’s motives must be thoroughly investigated for any reason to make a false accusation.

Penalties

Sexual battery is a felony. The class of felony depends on the offender’s age, the victim’s age, and the presence of any aggravating circumstances. In addition to jail time, fines, and probation, a person who has been convicted of sexual battery will be listed on the sexual offender registry for the rest of his or her life. Sexual battery offenders may not petition for removal from the registry because the crime involves nonconsensual sexual interaction.

If you have been charged with a sexual offense, please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a confidential consultation.