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It is Double Jeopardy for Someone to be Convicted of Both Sexual Battery and Lewd or Lascivious Molestation

In the case of Jehu Ramirez versus the State of Florida, Mr. Ramirez was found guilty by a jury of both of the crimes of sexual battery and lewd or lascivious molestation.  The facts of this case are as follows:

On April 9, 2010, Ramirez’ girlfriend, Ana Salinas, was babysitting  a child who had the initials “A.Z.” at Salinas’ house while A.Z.’s mother was at work. Ramirez lived with Salinas and was the only adult male in the house on that day. When A.Z.’s mother picked her up, A.Z. told her that Ramirez touched her “vulva,” which was the word A.Z. used to refer to her vagina. Later that day, A.Z’s mother took A.Z. to the hospital where she was examined by a nurse practitioner. The examination did not find any evidence of sexual abuse, but A.Z.’s blood was found in her panties.

Several days later, A.Z. was interviewed by a member of the child protection team (or “CPT”).  A.Z. told the CPT interviewer that a man put his finger inside her “vulva” when she was at Salinas’ house while her mother was at work.  She told the CPT interviewer that the incident happened in a bedroom while Salinas was cooking food for the other children at the house, and she explained that the man opened her legs and put his finger all the way inside of her. She also told the CPT interviewer that the man touched her “bumpie,” which was the word A.Z. used to describe her buttocks.

The following day, Ramirez was interviewed by a deputy with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He initially denied touching A.Z. inappropriately, but he eventually admitted to sexually abusing her by putting his fingers inside her vagina. He stated that he was in his bedroom with A.Z. when the abuse occurred and his description of the incident matched the description given by A.Z. to the CPT interviewer. Ramirez was then arrested and charged with the crime of sexual battery for “placing his fingers inside the vagina of A.Z.” and with the crime of lewd or lascivious molestation for “touch[ing] the breast, genitals, genital area, or buttocks, or the clothing covering them, of A.Z.”

Ramirez appealed and argued that his convictions for both sexual battery and lewd or lascivious molestation violated the prohibition against double jeopardy because the lewd or lascivious molestation conviction was for the same touching of A.Z.’s vagina that resulted in the penetration of her vagina which was the basis for his sexual battery conviction.

The court of appeals agreed with Ramirez and reversed his conviction for lewd or lascivious molestation.

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