Being accused of sexual assault is a serious matter. If you face sexual assault charges in Florida, taking the accusations seriously and taking steps to protect your future is crucial. An allegation of sexual assault can result in jail time, a criminal record, and a lifetime of challenges.
The first step is to contact an experienced sexual assault lawyer who can help you navigate the legal system and build a strong defense against your charges. Call the offices of criminal lawyer Ron Chapman at (561) 832-4348 to discuss your case.
What is Sexual Assault?
According to Section 794.011 of the Florida Statutes, what we typically refer to as sexual assault is defined as "sexual battery" in Florida. Sexual battery means the non-consensual oral, anal, or vaginal contact with another person (using a sexual organ or object).
Sexual assault can take many forms, including but not limited to rape or attempted rape, forced object penetration or sodomy, and unwanted fondling or touching. Any gender can commit sexual assault. If you are accused of sexual assault, you could face felony charges that carry stiff penalties, including prison time and sex offender registration.
How to Defend Yourself Against Sexual Assault Charges in Florida
If you have been accused of sexual assault, remember that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You have the right to an attorney and should exercise that right as soon as possible. Your attorney will work with you to develop a defense strategy based on the facts of your case and can help you navigate the system and protect those rights. Some possible defenses against sexual assault charges include:
If both parties consented to the sexual contact or activity in question, there is no crime. However, consent must be given freely and willingly, without coercion or force. If force was used or the accuser could not give consent due to intoxication or mental incapacity, then consent cannot be used as a defense.
If the accuser misidentified the perpetrator, then there is no crime. This often happens in cases where there are multiple assailants or the victim was intoxicated at the time of the incident.
Unfortunately, false accusations of sexual assault are not uncommon. There are several reasons why someone might falsely accuse another person of sexual assault, such as revenge, attention seeking, or because they are confused about what happened due to intoxication. If there is evidence that the accuser made a false report (e.g., witnesses who can corroborate your version of events), this can be used as a defense against false charges.
Penalties for Sexual Assault in Florida
The penalties for sexual assault in Florida depend on the degree of the charge and the age of the victim. Sexual assault is a felony regardless of whether the act was attempted or committed. It is punishable by a second-degree felony conviction resulting in up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. You could also face a capital or life felony charge, which carries the possibility of life imprisonment and fines of up to $15,000.
The offender's penalties will change if the sex crime was committed against a minor. If the offender is a minor and the victim is under 12, the defendant faces a life felony sentence of at least 25 years in prison.
Sex Offender Registration in Florida
After conviction of most sex crimes in Florida, the defendant is required to register as a sex offender. The government controls this database. Information is updated about the offender's location and place of employment, and neighbors and employers can look up information about sex offenders in their location.
Sex offender registration prohibits sex offenders from living near schools or other places where children are commonly present. In addition, numerous registration requirements under the law are outlined in Florida Statute 943.0435.
What Should You Do If You Are Accused of Sexual Assault?
If you have been accused of sexual assault in Florida, you must take the accusations seriously and consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney without delay. An attorney can evaluate the evidence against you and mount a defense on your behalf. Several defenses may be available to you depending on your case circumstances. For example, if you had consent from the victim or reasonably believed that the victim consented, you may not be guilty of sexual assault.
An accusation of sexual assault can lead to jail time, stiff penalties, damage to your reputation, sex offender registration, and a lifetime of challenges. If you are facing allegations of sexual assault in Florida, seek legal assistance as soon as possible to protect your future.
Ronald S. Chapman, P.A.: Your Experienced Sexual Assault Attorney in West Palm Beach, Florida
A sexual assault charge can derail your whole life. The potential consequences of a sexual assault conviction include jail time, fines, a permanent criminal record, loss of employment, loss of child custody, and irrevocable harm to your reputation.
The best way to defend yourself against sexual assault charges is to contact an experienced sexual assault attorney immediately after being accused. Your attorney will help you understand your rights and will work with you to develop a strong defense strategy based on the facts of your case. Remember, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and there are many potential defenses available if you have been wrongfully accused of sexual assault in Florida.
With so much at stake, you need assertive representation by a criminal defense attorney who will protect your rights. Ron Chapman, a West Palm Beach criminal attorney with over 30 years of experience representing criminal cases of all types, offers trusted legal advice to people arrested for sexual assault in Florida. Call us to schedule a meeting at (561) 832-4348.
Copyright © 2022. Ronald S. Chapman, P.A. All rights reserved.
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
Ronald S. Chapman, P.A.
400 Clematis St. Suite 206
West Palm Beach, FL 33401