Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault Defense Lawyer in Orlando, Florida

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Persuasive Advocacy to Protect Clients from the Impact of Sex Offender Registration

Under Florida, sexual battery, also known as sex assault or rape, is considered a felony criminal offense. You can be found guilty of sexual battery if there is proof that you engaged in oral, vaginal, or anal physical penetration or union with a sexual organ of another without their consent, or if you participated in anal or vaginal penetration of someone with an object without that person’s consent. Sexual battery also covers offenses where an offender engages in the sexual penetration of someone who is either physically helpless, or unconscious or asleep, or with someone who is physically incapacitated, meaning someone who is handicapped, or impaired to the extent that they can resist or flee the sexual battery.

As previously mentioned, sexual battery is considered a felony offense under Florida law, but the degree of felony and the severity of the punishment is dependent on the facts and circumstances of your case. For example, if you are eighteen years of age or older, and the victim of the sexual battery is less than twelve years of age, then you can be convicted of a capital felony which is punishable by life in jail or even the death penalty. If the victim is twelve years or older, but less than eighteen years, the offense is considered a first-degree felony, where penalties can possibly include up to thirty years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Finally, if the victim is older than eighteen, the offense is generally considered a second-degree felony which is punishable by up to fifteen years in jail, and a fine of up to $10,000. However, it is important to note that the severity of the offense and the punishment can be greater depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, such as whether the victim was incapacitated or helpless to resist at the time of the offense, or whether you or someone else administers a narcotic or other intoxicating substance to the victim that renders them mentally or physically incapacitated.

In addition, the penalties become harsher if the sexual battery was committed using physical force that is likely to cause serious injury, or using or threatening to use a deadly weapon on a victim to force them to engage in the sexual conduct. In these cases of forced rape, offenders can possibly face up to life in prison, or depending on the circumstances, even the death penalty.

As anyone who has watched a crime drama on television, or taken a high school civics class knows, individuals are given a presumption of innocence within the criminal justice system. Despite this legal premise, those wrongfully accused of a sex offense learn that a mere allegation can elicit negative stereotypes, unwarranted suspicion, and severe damage to an accused’s personal or professional reputation. While sexual assault is justifiably considered a serious crime by law enforcement and prosecutors, false allegations of sex crimes all too often are used as a sword rather than a shield.

A sexual assault conviction often has consequences that last long after any period of incarceration and fulfillment of the terms of probation. Florida sexual assault attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary recognizes that sex offender registration means that a sex crime conviction can have a life-long impact. The requirement that a sex offender register makes the individual’s identity, offense, and address available to the public with a simple search on the internet. Discovery that a person is a registered sex offender can result in disqualification from certain jobs (e.g. jobs with kids), denial of a rental application, restrictions on where one can live, and other negative ramifications.

Understanding Sexual Assault in Florida

Under Florida law, sexual assault refers to several types of conduct. The offense is defined as “oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or with the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any object.” Generally, sexual assaults in Florida involve one person allegedly forcing another to participate in a sexual act. Rape constitutes the most frequent form of sexual assault in Florida. Individuals commit the offense of rape when they engage in sexual intercourse with an individual who clearly indicates he or she is unwilling to consent. Consent also is ineffective when the alleged victim is under the age of sixteen, unconscious, inebriated, drugged, or mentally incapacitated.

Sexual assault constitutes a felony even when the act is not completed. The prosecutor can obtain a conviction based solely on the accused having the intent to commit the crime. The penalty imposed for a sexual assault conviction in Florida will depend on the circumstances and the age of the parties. Even the least severely punished form of sexual assault will be a 2nd-degree felony that is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. A conviction of the most harshly punished form of sexual assault can result in life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

False Allegations of Sexual Assault

While sexual assault is a serious criminal offense, falsified allegations of such an offense occur in many contexts. A spouse in a divorce might fabricate a sexual assault claim to gain a strategic advantage in a child custody dispute or a more favorable distribution of marital assets. Alternatively, a parent in a child custody dispute might coach a minor child to assert such a claim. Cases have even been discovered where an overly suggestive therapist has prompted a child to report a sexual assault that did not occur. If you are accused of sexual battery (rape), you should not discuss your case with anyone. You also should seek immediate legal advice from an experienced Florida sexual assault defense attorney who can protect you from suggestive lineups, investigate the relevant facts, and explore inaccurate or fabricated statements from witnesses.

Contact the Law Offices of Beryl Thompson-McClary P.A. Today

At the Law Offices of Beryl Thompson-McClary, our criminal defense attorneys recognize the enormous stakes when our client is accused of committing a sexual assault. Given the potential consequences, you can take comfort in having an attorney who has handled over 350 trials in your corner. We have law offices in Orlando and practice in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Brevard, and Volusia counties.  To schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney, you can call our office at 888-640-2999.