Imagine this scene: You have a sexual encounter with someone and it is consensual, but in the following weeks or months you are charged with rape. Perhaps you stopped speaking with the accuser, maybe they are feeling scorned. Either way, you are now facing life-changing charges that can negatively affect your career and family.
If you find yourself falsely accused of sexual battery after a consensual encounter, you’ll need to know what this type of charge means and how to defend against it. In this brief article, we spoke with a sexual battery lawyer in Tampa with the team at The Rickman Law Firm to understand what to do when you have been falsely accused of a sexual crime.
In Florida, sexual battery and rape are the same thing and the terms are often used interchangeably for this incredibly broad charge.
For a more technical definition, Florida Statute Chapter 794 defines sexual battery as what occurs when one party forces another person to engage in sexual intercourse without consent, in a manner that is against their will. If the victim is mentally incapacitated or passed out and is unable to give consent, it is also classified as sexual battery in Florida.
There are additional penalties and punishments if the victim was or is currently a minor, if there were multiple perpetrators, or if the offender was an officer of the law or in another position of power. These are all felony offenses, and may be punishable by a minimum of 25 years and a fine to all the way up to life in prison.
To understand how or why you may be charged with sexual battery, the key is understanding consent. According to Florida law:
““Consent” means intelligent, knowing, and voluntary consent and does not include coerced submission. “Consent” shall not be deemed or construed to mean the failure by the alleged victim to offer physical resistance to the offender.”
You’ll notice that this does not differentiate between spoken, written, or implied consent, which means it may come down to “he said, she said” in a court of law. Additionally, a minor under the age of 18 cannot give consent in Florida. That means that even if you are only a few months older than the other party and you are 18 but they are 17, you may still be charged with sexual battery because there is no consent.
If you’ve been falsely accused of sexual battery following an encounter that was consensual, it is crucial that you speak with sex crime defense attorneys in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm. Your attorney will help you understand the best possible defense if you are charged, but taking it a step further they will also advise you during the investigation to protect your rights. They will also discuss legal questions you may have, help you understand the statute of limitations, and help you prove your innocence.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.