Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

What Are The Defenses To Sexual Battery In Florida?

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.

There are two main types of defenses to sexual battery that are also defenses to every other criminal case: technical pretrial defenses and defenses during the trial itself. An example of a technical pretrial defense would be a fact pattern where a defendant has given a statement that implicates the defendant in the commission of a sexual battery. However, let’s say in this example that the statement was taken unlawfully, that the person had asked for an attorney and was not provided one, or that the person exercised their right to remain silent, yet that right to remain silent was violated. These types of things happen more frequently than the public understands. Unfortunately, there is a cultural presumption that if a woman makes a sexual offense complaint against a man, then she is telling the truth and he is lying if he denies it.

This is why so many hands go up in venire panels on the “he-said, she-said” cases. Nevertheless, if the statement is taken unlawfully from the defendant (as in the example I’ve given), then a motion to suppress the statement would be filed and heard by the court. If the judge rules in favor of the defendant, then the defendant’s statement cannot be used. Different types of evidence are also subject to exclusion during trial by the use of pre-trial motions. So this is an example of a pre-trial defense in the form of a motion to suppress. There are many other types of technical pre-trial defenses as well. Trial defenses are an entirely different matter. Most of the “he-said, she-said” cases involve situations in which consent was not coerced, or a false allegation was made.

For example, I once handled a case in which a business owner was accused of sexually battering an employee. However, we detected a large number of red flags early on, indicating that the complaining witness making the allegation was actually lying. For example, she didn’t visit just one plaintiff’s attorney; she and her parents visited four. Worse, the government tried to make it sound like my client had caused her to have a mental breakdown and to go into treatment. In reality, it was discovered that she had a mental illness that affected her ability to control her behavior as well as her emotions long before she began working for the defendant. Finally, we were able to get her private Facebook messages that showed her real motivation for making the false allegation: she wanted money.

How do we know this? We know this because we found four different statements in her private Facebook messages that indicated she was fabricating the case out of an interest to receive money. In one of the private messages, she told a friend, “I am going to get over $600,000.” In a following message, she stated that her lawyer had told her that she would make over $2 million and would never have to testify in court. Much to her surprise, I busted her with her fabricated testimony in her deposition before trial and her fabrication during trial with her Facebook messages. She was forced to tearfully admit that she did, in fact, make those statements. As a result, the jury came back with the not guilty verdict.

A couple of things about this case disturbed me greatly. First, the prosecutor knowingly put her on the stand being fully aware that she was about to lie. Second, this individual was never charged with filing a false police report, and I suspect that the very prosecutor who put her on the stand made the judgment call to not have her charged for committing perjury in open court. When it comes to sex offense cases, there is a serious problem with false allegations. This is a problem that is undiscussed as widely as it should be in the media. Everybody remembers the case against Jameis Winston from Florida State University that made national headlines. That was a consensual sex case in which one party later regretted the fact of sex, or for some other reason they (in their mind) turned the act of consensual sex into a sexual battery.

Knowing how the legal process works, it didn’t take very long to figure out what was wrong with the case. It was very simple. The complaining witness’s complaint in the Jameis Winston case was so poor and unfounded that it did not even make it through the warrant review process within the local law enforcement agency. Later, when the office of the state attorney for that particular city reviewed the case due to public uproar and outcry, the prosecutor determined that the police had done nothing wrong and had made the correct decision. Nevertheless, somebody’s name had been drug through the mud, and this type of thing is far more common than it should be.

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 Defenses To Sexual Battery Allegations, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 423-0035 today.

Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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