Court Overturns Florida Conviction for Sex Crimes Where Victim Repudiates Prior Statement at Trial

In many instances where a defendant is charged with a sex crime, the only evidence of the crime is the testimony of the alleged victim. In Clearwater sex crime cases where there is no other corroborating evidence of the alleged crime if the victim recants his or her prior testimony at trial, it is unlikely the State will be able to present evidence to support a conviction.

This was recently illustrated in a case decided by a Florida court of appeals, in which the defendant’s convictions for two sex crimes were overturned, due to the alleged victim’s repudiation of her prior statement at trial. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with a sex crime, you should retain a seasoned Clearwater sex crimes defense attorney as soon as possible, to analyze what defenses are available to the charges you face.

Alleged Sexual Battery

Reportedly, the defendant sexually battered his girlfriend’s 16-year-old mentally disabled sister. The victim’s mother took her to a hospital, where she gave a detailed account of the defendant’s actions. The State charged the defendant with three separate counts of sexual battery, for three acts of oral, penile, and digital penetration, based upon the victim’s account.

Trial Testimony

During the trial, the victim testified that the defendant digitally penetrated her, but denied any oral or penile penetration. She affirmed, however, that she previously gave a recorded statement wherein she stated the defendant committed oral and penile penetration and stated her memory may have been better when she gave the statement.

Reportedly, the state also presented the testimony of the defendant’s girlfriend and a third sister, who both testified that the defendant had sex with them when they were minors. In the circumstances involving the third sister, the sex was nonconsensual. The defendant filed a motion for acquittal, which the court denied. The jury found the defendant guilty on all counts. The defendant appealed, arguing the court erred in denying his motion.

Insufficient Proper Corroborating Evidence

On appeal, the court held that when a victim recants the sole evidence supporting a conviction, the conviction is improper absent other proper corroborating evidence. Here, the court found that the victim’s prior statement, standing alone, was insufficient corroborating evidence of the crimes alleged. Additionally, the court found that the sister’s testimony that she was looking for the defendant on the night of the alleged assault, the mother’s testimony regarding the victim’s behavior immediately after the alleged incident, and the testimony of the victim’s sisters were not adequate to support the defendant’s conviction for penile and oral penetration.  The court noted that although the argument was not presented by the state, the jury may have found that the victim’s repudiation of her prior statement may have been due to a diminished intellect or a lapse in memory, and it was for the jury to make such a determination. Based on the foregoing, the court overturned the defendant’s conviction’s for oral and penile penetration.

Confer with an Experienced Clearwater Sex Crime Defense Attorney

If you are a Clearwater resident currently charged with a sex crime, it is in your best interest to consult a sex crimes defense attorney to assist you in formulating a defense. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is an experienced Clearwater sex crime defense attorney who will work tirelessly to help you retain your rights. Contact him at 727-897-5413 or through the online form to schedule a meeting.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Appeals Court Says Trial Court Abused Discretion in Sexual Abuse Case, September 18, 2018, Clearwater Sex Crimes Lawyer Blog