Anyone suspected of or charged with a sex crime in Florida should have an attorney by his or her side when talking to the police. As a recent case out of the state’s First District Court of Appeal shows, police interview statements can be later used against you in court.
A defendant was arrested and charged with sexual battery on a person physically helpless to resist. The charge stemmed from an incident in which the defendant and a friend allegedly had sex with a female acquaintance at a party. The defendant denied having sex with the woman in an interview with a police officer. The officer explained that DNA tests would be performed to determine if he was telling the truth. The defendant, in response, told the officer that his DNA was likely on the sheets in the bed where the battery allegedly took place, and it could also be on the victim because she had been in the bed. He maintained, however, that he didn’t have sex with the woman. The officer responded as follows:
“Okay. So that’s what you’re gonna stick with. Because I’m going to find out probably if you did. I mean, I’m going to find—if you did, I’m going to find out. I don’t want to—I don’t want you to [mislead] me. One chance to tell me the truth. And that’s where we’re at. Final words.”
The defendant was eventually convicted. He later appealed, arguing that the trial judge should not have allowed into evidence a redacted transcript of his interview with the officer. He argued that the transcript wrongly prejudiced him in the eyes of the jury because it made clear that the officer believed he was lying. The First District disagreed.
The court noted that no one objected to the transcript being entered as evidence during the trial. It also said that nothing in the officer’s statements to the defendant directly accused him of lying. The officer never said he thought the defendant committed a crime, according to the court, and suggested at one point that the defendant may have had consensual sex with the victim. At most, the officer warned the defendant about the consequences of lying, according to the court.
“He confronted [the defendant] with the fact that a sexual assault examination would be performed on the victim and cautioned [the defendant] that his denial might come back to haunt him if his DNA was found on the victim,” the court explained.
As a result, the court affirmed the conviction.
If you or a loved one has been charged with sexual battery or another sex crime in Florida, it is essential that you seek the advice and counsel of an experienced lawyer. Clearwater sex crime attorney Will Hanlon is a seasoned lawyer who fights aggressively on behalf of clients charged with a wide range of offenses. Call our offices at (727) 897-5413 or contact us online to speak with Mr. Hanlon about your case.
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