Sex Crimes Rape Defense

When asked to name the most serious crimes a person can commit, rape is almost always mentioned among the worst offenses. In addition to the physical attack victims experience, the mental and emotional trauma and fear victims often experience can affect people long after the crime has been committed. Over the years, legislatures, courts, and law enforcement agencies have gradually shifted to treating rape as a serious crime that can happen to people in a variety of different scenarios. Due to an increase in such allegations, those accused of related charges in Naples, Broward County or elsewhere in Florida must seek the help of a Fort Lauderdale rape defense attorney to represent them in federal or state court.

Florida sexual battery statutes

Florida’s legislature has eliminated the word “rape” from its laws and instead classifies sex crimes most people would commonly associate with rape under the general category of sexual battery, defined as an offense that is committed when a person has non-consensual oral, anal, or vaginal contact with another person using an object or the offender’s sex organ. Within the category of sexual battery, there are several enhanced offenses that vary based on a variety of differentiating elements:

  • sexual battery on a child under 12
  • sexual battery with a deadly weapon
  • sexual battery likely to cause serious personal injury

In Florida, sexual battery is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 15 years on sex offender probation, and/or a $10,000 fine. Sex offender probation requires enrollment in a treatment program within 30 days after release from incarceration. People who are on this type of probation may be ordered to avoid accessing the internet, provide a DNA sample, avoid contact with children, follow a curfew, and abide by several other requirements. Probation may be offered as an alternative to going to jail or prison for a full sentence; however, Broward county defendants should consult an attorney prior to agreeing to sex offender probation because the violation rate is very high, and the program’s requirements are very strict.

Just Arrested?
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.

Aggravated sexual battery

Under certain circumstances in Florida, a sexual battery charge may be raised to an aggravated offense. In Fort Lauderdale, Naples and Broward County, a sexual battery charge may be enhanced to aggravated sexual battery if:

  • the victim was physically helpless to resist
  • the victim was coerced by a threat of violence or force that is sufficient to cause serious personal injury
  • the victim was coerced by threats to retaliate against the victim or any other person
  • the victim had a known mental defect and was taken advantage of because of it
  • the victim was physically incapacitated
  • the offender was a law enforcement or corrections department officer, or in any other position of control or authority, or was believed to be in a position of control or authority as a government agent or government employee

In cases in which the victim was coerced by a threat, the law requires that victim to have reasonably believed the offender was capable of carrying out the threat at the time of the sex offense. Aggravated sexual battery is a first degree felony, punishable by a maximum of 30 years in prison, 30 years on probation, a fine of up to $10,000, or any combination of the three. Such serious charges make it critical that you contact a sex crimes attorney in Fort Lauderdale immediately after you’re charged with rape or even if you suspect you’re under investigation.

Against a victim between 12 and 18

If a defendant commits aggravated sexual battery against a victim who is between 12 and 18 years of age, the crime is elevated to a life felony offense. Therefore, a defendant may be sentenced to a maximum of life in prison, lifetime probation, and a fine of up to $10,000. Absent grounds for a downward departure sentence, a judge must impose a minimum mandatory sentence of nine years followed by at least two years of sex offender probation if a defendant commits aggravated sexual battery against a victim who is between the ages of 12 and 18.

Against a victim under 12

Aggravated sexual battery is also called capital sexual battery in cases in which the victim is under age 12. If a person is convicted of this offense, the judge is required to impose a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole.

Sexual battery with a deadly weapon

If an offender is in possession of a deadly weapon while committing sexual battery, the offense is enhanced and termed sexual battery with a deadly weapon. The maximum sentence for sexual battery cases that involve the presence of a deadly weapon is up to life in prison, life on sex offender probation, and/or $10,000 in fines. The judge is required to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 1/2 years followed by at least two years on sex offender probation.

Related federal offenses

Federal law defines rape as penetration of the anus or vagina with any body part or object or penetration of the mouth by a sex organ without consent. The federal government’s definition of rape has been revised to exclude the requirement of the use of force in order for an offense to be classified as rape. States generally have jurisdiction over rape cases, unless an incident falls under certain categories. The federal court system automatically has jurisdiction over cases in which:

  • a federal official is involved
  • the crime took place on federal government property
  • the crime involved crossing interstate borders
  • the crime affects interstate commerce
  • the crime involves national security

Contacting an attorney to help with your rape defense

Sexual battery and rape charges have very serious consequences in Florida. Therefore, anyone who has been accused of a such an offense in Broward County should immediately contact a Fort Lauderdale rape lawyer to determine the best approach to defend the accusations.