In Florida, rape is legally referred to as sexual battery. This offense involves the unconsented penetration of another person’s sexual organs and is one of the most serious offenses under Florida law. If you are facing charges for sexual battery, it is urgent that you speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away.
Rape is most commonly imagined as an unwanted sexual encounter with a stranger, yet these cases most often occur between two people who know each other. It is not uncommon for persons accused of rape to be wrongfully accused. A person can be motivated by many different factors to make false rape accusations. If you believe that you have been wrongfully accused of sexual battery in West Palm Beach, attorney Brian Gabriel can help you fight the charges.
The Element of Consent
In order to prove sexual battery occurred beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecution must demonstrate that consent was not given. This is true of most cases except cases in which the alleged victim is under twelve years old. Florida does not recognize that a person under 12 is capable of intelligently and knowingly consenting to sexual activity.
Under Florida Statute § 794.011, consent is defined as “intelligent, knowing, and voluntary” and does not include coerced submission. A victim who fails to physically resist the offender is not construed as consenting. In addition, a victim who cannot give consent due to physical incapacity, whether through being unconscious or physically unable to communicate, is not deemed capable of providing consent.
Someone who is mentally incapacitated due to being under the influence of drugs and/ or alcohol can be enough to prove that the victim was not able to give consent to the sexual act. Finally, simply submitting to the act when it can be reasonably believed that the alleged offender was in a position of control, is not considered consent under the law.
Consequences of Sexual Battery
The consequences of sexual battery can be dire, even for mere accusations. Sexual battery charges are always felony charges. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may face life felony or capital felony charges. The age of the alleged victim plays a significant role in determining which type of felony charges you face.
Minors Under 12
Although the definition of a minor is persons under 18, 12 years of age marks the threshold at which the penalties for sexual battery crimes are determined. Offenses against minors under 12 are the most serious sexual battery offenses. When an adult offender commits sexual battery upon, or in an attempt to commit sexual battery injures the sexual organs of, a person under 12, he commits a capital felony. A capital felony conviction can result in the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole.
When a minor offender commits such an offense, he commits what is called a “life felony.” This means that a possible sentence is life in prison, life under probation, lifelong registration on the sex offender registry, and a fine of up to $15,000.
Sexual Battery Against Persons Over Twelve
Generally, sexual battery against a person 12 years of age or older is a first degree felony offense, which is punishable by a sentence of up to 30 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, and lifetime sex offender status. In addition, a conviction can strip you of your right to own a firearm, serve on a jury, or vote.
When the offense takes place without physical force or violence that is likely to cause serious personal injury, the offense is a second degree felony. You may face up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and lifetime sex offender registration if convicted.
Offenses against persons over twelve in which a deadly weapon was present can escalate penalties. One who commits sexual battery upon another 12 or older and, in the process, uses or threatens to use a deadly weapon or actual physical force likely to cause serious personal injury commits a life felony.
False rape accusations are extremely serious. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney works tirelessly to discover all the facts surrounding the case and to suppress evidence that was wrongfully acquired. Attorney Brian Gabriel has dedicated over 30 years to providing smart criminal defense in Palm Beach County. Call 561-622-5575 or contact The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel online to schedule a free consultation.