Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Can I Be Charged With Sexual Assault If There Is No Evidence?

When you begin examining the defense of sexual offense cases whether they are sexual assault, sexual battery, or molestation acts of battery, these types of allegations often involve a scenario of one person says one thing, and another person says another. Many people will say, “I was accused of sexual battery, supposedly this happened five years ago, there will be no DNA evidence, there is no other evidence, how can I be charged with a sexual battery or assault that happened years ago?” Moreover, the answer is technical, and it has to do with things related to the statute of limitations, but once the charging occurs, testimony is evidence. If someone is willing to get on the stand and testify that something happened, that is not hearsay.

What is Hearsay?

Hearsay is an out of court assertion that is offered by a party in the court to prove the truth of the matter asserted. If someone testifies in court about something that they say happened to them that is not hearsay. However, you also have to remember that when it comes to sexual offense cases, hearsay is allowed more frequently than in other cases. Let me give an example. When it comes to hearsay, you have over thirty exceptions between Florida Statute Section 90.803, and 90.804. Some of those relate to a witness making a statement outside of court, who is available and others relate to a witness making a statement outside of court who is unavailable. But in addition, you also have to factor in that with sexual offense cases, the hearsay evidence rules are different.

You also have another type of evidence that you see in these types of cases known as Williams rule evidence, or similar fact evidence. When it comes to the prosecution, and defense of sexual offense cases, these are easily the most technical, and complicated of criminal defense cases. Since I have handled everything from two complaining witness capital sexual battery case, the quadruple homicide involving blood spatter, evidence and DNA, I can tell you with a certainty that defending sexual offense cases is actually significantly harder than defending most murder cases. It does not seem like it would be that way. It is because the way the statutes rules of procedure, the types of evidence involved, and frankly, the politics of how jurors are impacted by what they read, and see in social media. Generally, sexual offense cases are far more difficult to defend, and require a higher level of vigilance than most murder cases.

If My Son Was Charged With A Burglary And He Didn’t Take Anything. Can He Be Acquitted?

If someone was charged with a burglary but did not actual steal, they may be acquitted. When asking a question about an outcome early in the case, the answer is going to be maybe. I do not know, because I need more information. In addition, a blanket question like that is always going to be answered with some form of maybe, simply because there is not enough information. One of the things that people have a problem with is misunderstanding what a burglary charge actually is. For example, there is burglary to the structure, burglary to a conveyance, burglary to a dwelling, and each one of these are different. Burglary to a structure could involve a shed in someone’s backyard.

Burglary to a dwelling could involve someone’s residence as a mobile home or their apartment, burglary to a conveyance means unlawfully entering into, and committing a crime inside of a vehicle of some kind, whether it is a bus, or a motor vehicle. Notice what I just said in that last sentence, unlawfully entering into, and then committing a crime within. Here is a burglary example that catches people by surprise. The allegation is that the defendant barged into a home, saw his partner there kicking another man, and the next thing you know, there is a fight. This person is charged with burglary. This person might then come to me and say, “How can I be charged with burglary to a dwelling when I didn’t take anything”. It is because of the definition of burglary.

When Will You Get Charged With Burglary?

Unlike breaking and entering, burglary does not require breaking. It does require entering. Once there is an entering, or in some cases remaining in after a lawful entering, if there is commission of any other crime, and the other elements of burglary have to be met, then that becomes the burglary charge. Most people think the only time that you can be charged with a burglary relates to when property is taken. Another aspect that is more specific to this question is what is known as the law of principles. The law of principles means that if someone is a participant in a crime, no matter how minor, they can be punished as if they had done the entire crime by themselves, and completed every act. For example, there is a case that happened in Pensacola many years ago that was a fact pattern like this.

A car drives up at Trout’s Auto Parts on the west side of town. Two people get out and go inside. One of those two people had a gun. The person behind the counter at the store was shot, and ultimately died. Each one of the three people, the person who went inside with the gun, the person who went inside without the gun, and the driver of the vehicle were charged with capital death penalty murder under the law of principles. As to the issue of the son not going into the house, or whatever it was that the question was concerned about, the son can still be charged if there is evidence of participation in any part of the crime, including being a getaway driver, or lookout.

More specifically, the question was can the charges be dropped, and the answer is maybe. We need more information, but these are some of the things surrounding the law of burglary, and one of a criminal defense lawyers’ most important functions that all too often gets overlooked is the need to educate clients, and their families. They need to educate them about what the law is, and how the law works in each specific case, so that better questions can be asked. This way, lawyers can give specific answers instead of generic broad explanations once all the facts and circumstances are known.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

For more information on Sexual Assault Charges In Florida, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 423-0035 today.

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Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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