Timing Questions in Florida Sex Crime Cases

The burden of proof required in any Florida criminal case is an important protection for people charged with sex and other crimes in the Sunshine State. Prosecutors bear the burden at all times of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the specific crime with which you have been charged. A simple hunch that you committed the crime – or even evidence showing that it’s more likely that not – is not enough to secure a conviction.

calendarIn a recent case out of Florida’s First District Court of Appeal, the court explained that there are some facts that prosecutors may not need to prove. In a child sex case, the court said the specific date on which the alleged crimes happened is one of them.

The defendant was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of two counts of capital sexual battery against two children under the age of 12. He later appealed the decision, arguing that the victims were unable to say when the alleged abuse happened. He also said the prosecutors were unable to show that he actually committed the crimes during the time alleged in the criminal complaint:  April 2010 to April 2012 for the first victim and December 2011 to April 2012 for the other victim.

The First District disagreed. It pointed out that both victims told investigators that the offenses took place while they were five years old and living with the defendant. The court said there was no requirement that the victims identify a specific day on which the crimes occurred. “The two-year date ranges alleged by the State were proper,” the court explained.

The court also said there was no merit to the defendant’s argument that the prosecutors didn’t prove that the crimes happened within the date range charged.

“Even if the State failed to prove the crimes occurred during the dates alleged, Appellant would not be entitled to relief,” the court said.

The First District explained that prosecutors are required to prove each element of the capital sexual battery offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The date on which the crime took place is not an element of the crime, however.

The court also rejected the defendant’s claim that a prosecutor made improper statements vouching for the credibility of the victims, their mother, investigators, and other witnesses. The court said that the lawyer was “explaining why the jury should find the witness credible based upon the evidence” and that this was “a valid expression of the prosecutor’s opinion.”

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.

More blog posts:

Double Jeopardy in Florida Sex Crime Cases

Proving Intent in Florida Sex Crime Cases

Constructive Possession in Florida Child Pornography Cases