Crimes against the state cannot be excused because the defendant claims the victim consented; however, there are a few situations in which a victim’s consent may be a valid defense to a criminal charge. In cases of rape or sexual battery, not having the victim’s consent is an element of the offense. Without being able to prove this, the prosecution may not have a valid case. Therefore, if the defendant can prove he or she had the alleged victim’s consent, he or she could avoid a criminal conviction.
If you have been accused of rape or sexual battery in West Palm Beach, you are likely concerned and frightened about how your charge will affect your reputation. These are highly sensitive matters that require the experience of a criminal defense lawyer to investigate. If there is any evidence that the person accusing you of rape or assault consented to engaging in sexual activity with you, it might be possible to raise consent as a defense.
Rape vs. Sexual Battery Charges in Florida
In Florida, the law classifies rape and other types of sexual charges as sexual battery offenses. Sexual battery in Florida is akin to sexual assault in other states. Rape could be the specific offense alleged in a particular sexual battery case, or it could be another act of unwanted touching in a sexual manner. Sexual battery is defined in Florida Statute 794.011 as:
“The oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by or union with the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by another object.”
Acts committed for legitimate medical purposes are not covered by the statute. Sexual battery is a felony offense that ranges in severity based on the age of the defendant and victim, and the victim’s level of suffering. Defendants whose victims were injured as a result of the battery face more severe charges. Some of these charges may lead to capital punishment or life in prison upon a conviction.
What are the elements of sexual battery?
To prove a rape or other sexual battery, prosecutors must establish that the defendant:
- Engaged in oral, vaginal, or anal penetration with a sexual organ or another object; or
- There was a meeting of the defendant’s sexual organ with the victim’s mouth, vagina, or anus
- The victim did not consent to the sexual act
If a victim is under 12, the prosecutor does not need to establish their lack of consent to prove sexual battery occurred. The victim’s consent must also be intelligent and completely voluntary, meaning the victim was:
- Never threatened or forced to participate in criminal conduct
- Understood the nature and consequences of the conduct
- Had the mental capacity to make sound decisions
Any evidence to the contrary could weaken the prosecution’s case against you.
Could consent to a fight prevent a battery conviction?
Generally, consent is not a viable defense for assault and/or battery in situations where victims were hurt or in situations that endanger others or disrupt the peace. A situation in which a group of people got into a fight or college students were caught hazing each other cannot be defended with consent. Since the state has an interest in preventing violence, consent is not a strong defense in cases where victims were physically injured or the attack was so violent that it would likely result in physical trauma to the victim.
Discuss Assault Defense Options With Brian Gabriel
Attorney Brian P. Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel has more than 30 years of experience helping people fight sexual battery and assault charges in West Palm Beach. If you’ve been accused of rape, you need aggressive representation to protect your reputation. A conviction for a sexual offense could force you to register as a sex offender for life, and could lead to severe penalties.
Find out what you should do to protect your rights as soon as you learn the charges against you. Call (561) 622-5575 for a free consultation or complete our contact form.