A look at sexual battery charges in Florida

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Florida residents who are accused of sexual battery should understand how the law approaches these types of charges.

There are a wide variety of sex crime charges that a person can face in Florida. Some of these include human trafficking, sexual misconduct, lewd and lascivious offenses, unlawful sexual acts with a minor and more. Another charge that a person can be accused of is sexual battery.

What is the definition of sexual battery?

The Florida Statutes defines sexual battery as a situation in which the alleged perpetrator uses an object or a sexual organ to penetrate another person's anus, vaginal area or mouth. This act is done without the consent of the person who is being penetrated and would not fall under the terms of a legitimate medical procedure. Furthermore, force or the use of a deadly weapon may or may not be involved in a sexual battery charge.

What defines consent or the lack thereof?

If an alleged victim does not fight back or attempt to get away, that cannot be deemed as consent. Consent requires the active and conscious agreement to participate in an act. The law explains that a person must be able to communicate consent.

A mentally ill person is said to be mentally defective and therefore unable to provide consent. If a person was allegedly given drugs, alcohol or other substances which can impair cognitive function, that person can be considered mentally incapacitated. Mental incapacitation also precludes the giving of consent.

Is sexual battery a felony or a misdemeanor in Florida?

Sexual battery charges are felonies. However, not every sexual battery charge is the same type of felony. Some may be capital felonies, life felonies, first degree felonies or second degree felonies. For example, if an adult defendant is accused of committing or trying to commit sexual battery against a child under the age of 12, and the child's sexual organs are injured in the process, the defendant could be charged with a capital felony. This type of charge may be punishable by death.

Does a sexual battery charge require registration as a sexual offender?

Being charged with sexual battery does not require a person to register as a sexual offender. However, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement explains that a sexual battery conviction does require a defendant to register with the Florida Sexual Offender/Predator Registry. This registration will be mandatory for life. Updates to a registration can be required every four months or every six months. In addition, any changes such as a new job or residence that occurs between the designated registration update time must be reported within 48 hours.

What should defendants do?

With serious and lifelong consequences at stake, people charged with a sex crime should contact an experienced lawyer promptly. Getting help up front allows defendants and attorneys more time to work together on an appropriate defense strategy.