Sex Crimes Date Rape

When most people think of how rape happens, they imagine a stranger man sneaking up on a woman who walks alone in a dark alley or perhaps a burglar breaking into a home. But rape can occur in a variety of situations, even among people who know each other and voluntarily spend time together. Date rape is a colloquial term for a form of acquaintance rape that occurs when the victim and the offender have a romantic relationship with each other or are in a romantic situation such as going on a date. Acquaintance rape generally describes cases in which a victim is attacked by someone he or she knows. Related charges are serious, and require experienced representation by a Naples, Broward County or Fort Lauderdale date rape lawyer.

Date rape does not appear in Florida law, but it is a sexual battery that occurs between two parties who are linked to each other romantically. Sexual battery is defined as any oral, vaginal, or anal penetration by another person’s sex organ or any other object without consent. Although the term “date rape” may be used, the relationship between the two parties has no bearing on the law when it comes to sexual battery. The offense remains the same if the victim and the offender have been in a long-term romantic relationship, are friends, or are complete strangers who have been set up on a blind date. The offender may still be charged and convicted of sexual battery.

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Penalties in Florida

If convicted of sexual battery, a defendant may be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison, 15 years on probation, and $10,000 in fines. Under certain circumstances, an alleged offender may face more severe charges for date rape. A sexual battery charge may be enhanced if:

  • the victim was physically unable to resist
  • the offender threatened violence or force likely to cause serious personal injury against the victim, and the victim reasonably believed the threat could be carried out at the time
  • the victim was coerced by the offender threatening retaliation against the victim or anyone else, and the victim reasonably believed the threat could be carried out at the time
  • the victim was unknowingly drugged to the extent that he or she was physically or mentally incapacitated
  • the victim was taken advantage of due to a known mental defect
  • the victim was physically incapacitated
  • the offender is a law enforcement or corrections officer or other person in a position of government authority or control

If a defendant in a date rape case in convicted of aggravated sexual battery, a first degree felony, the law requires a mandatory minimum sentence of 7 3/4 years in state prison followed by a minimum of two years on sex offender probation. Sex offender probation requires that people who have been convicted of a sex crime adhere to a very strict set rules, which may include:

  • following a mandatory 10 p.m. curfew
  • avoiding contact with children
  • participating in a treatment program
  • undergoing a risk assessment evaluation
  • completing yearly polygraph tests

Aggravated sexual battery is punishable by up to 30 years in prison, 30 years on sex offender probation, and a $10,000 fine.

Defenses against date rape charges

Multiple studies over the years have indicated that rape is a vastly underreported crime not only in Broward County, Florida — but across the United States. Victims may feel even more discouraged against reporting incidents due to the close relationship with the offender and likelihood of having mutual associates. Nevertheless, a small percentage of reports are false and are made by people who have not been victimized and are seeking to meet an ulterior objective. In some cases, Fort Lauderdale and Naples residents are falsely accused have had no contact with the victim at all. Mental illness may be a factor in these instances of false accusation. In these cases, the defendant’s date rape attorney may be able to establish that the defendant was not in the alleged victim’s presence on the day or night he or she claimed the attack took place. In other cases, the alleged victim and offender may have had a relationship that was unstable or contentious. The two may have only been sexually involved with full consent on every occasion. Nevertheless, the victim may make a false claim in an effort to sabotage the defendant’s reputation. This type of false allegation may arise in a contentious child custody battle. The defendant’s attorney may introduce evidence of the alleged victim’s motives and a pattern of past malicious behavior. In the absence of physical evidence, date rape cases may be inherently difficult for the prosecution and for the defense because the offense typically occurs in seclusion within the context of a private relationship between the two parties.

Choosing the right defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale

Due to the complex nature of date rape cases and Florida’s sexual battery laws, those who find themselves accused should choose wisely when selecting a Naples or Fort Lauderdale date rape defense attorney. While there are many choices, the best lawyer for a Broward County date rape case will have extensive experience and a proven track record in successfully defending people who have been accused or are under informal investigation. In addition to having a proven track record, a qualified attorney is compassionate and will always be available to help the client understand each step in the criminal court process.