If you have been charged with Capital Sexual Battery in Okaloosa County, that means that you are accused of committing sexual battery against a victim who was under the age of 12 at the time of the offense. It is the most serious sexual offense in Florida and carries the most serious possible penalty.
In Florida, capital crimes are defined as those that are punishable by a sentence of death, or a mandatory life sentence in prison.
My name is Tim Flaherty. Along with my partner, Brandy Merrifield, we defend clients accused of sex crimes. Call Flaherty & Merrifield‘s Okaloosa County capital sexual battery defense lawyers at (850) 243-6097 and get the help you need.
Capital Sexual Battery Under Florida Law
Capital Sexual Battery takes place when a defendant who is 18 years of age or older commits sexual battery against a victim who was under the age of 12.
Under Florida law, the state does not have to prove that the defendant’s sexual organ penetrated the victim. The state can prove the charge by introducing evidence that the defendant’s sex organ “had union” with the victim’s sex organ, or they can prove the charge with evidence that the victim’s vagina or anus was penetrated by any object.
Obviously the intent behind passing this law was to create an additional level of protection for children under the age of 12, and to impose even harsher penalties for crimes against such children. Under Florida Statute 794.011(2), Capital Sexual Battery is punishable by a mandatory life sentence in prison.
What should I do if the police want to talk to me about a sex allegation in Okaloosa County?
This is something we see in almost every case involving alleged sex acts with a child. Before making an arrest, the police will give the suspect an opportunity to “tell their side of the story.” You should NOT fall for this. What the police are really trying to do is get you to incriminate yourself.
If they want to talk to you about an allegation against a child, they already think you are guilty. More so than any other case, our advice is: Do not talk to the police without an attorney present.
If you have any reason to think that someone is accusing you of Capital Sexual Battery, or any other sexually related crime, it is crucial that you make smart decisions now because they will have a huge impact on the outcome of your case and your future. You must make smart decisions about two things in particular:
- Choosing the right criminal defense team in Okaloosa County to defend you.
- Deciding not to make your situation worse by talking to the police (or anyone else for that matter).
How can a lawyer defend me against such a serious accusation?
Not all criminal defense attorneys are the same. Sexual offenses are complex and specialized. You need an attorney that will not judge you. You also need an attorney who is not intimidated by the prosecutor or the seriousness of the charge.
The first step in building a defense is to understand your adversary. Your case will be prosecuted by the Children’s Advocacy Center in Okaloosa County. This agency employs a team of counselors, investigators, case workers, and prosecutors who specialize in building cases against people in your situation.
We will attack the prosecution’s witnesses, their arguments, their experts, and their overall theory of the case. We will investigate the alleged victim to find out whether there is any motive for them to make a false accusation.
For example, we have defended cases that involved an ongoing divorce and custody battle where one spouse was making the child accuse the other parent of terrible crimes just to gain leverage in the divorce case. We have also defended cases where after a breakup between a man and a woman, the woman was angry and accused the man of molesting or abusing her child. Sadly, kids are very easy to manipulate especially when they are very young. They will say almost anything to please an adult.
In cases where the accuser is very young, we will raise the issue of whether the accuser is mature enough and “competent” to testify as a witness in court. This is not as easy as you might think. The judge will have to take testimony and determine whether or not the accuser has sufficient maturity to understand legal proceedings, the duty to tell the truth in court, and the penalty for not telling the truth. They will also have to demonstrate some understanding of time and place in order to specify when the criminal conduct took place.
We have used this strategy in the past to have the accuser’s testimony excluded from trial.
This is just a brief overview of the areas we will explore in developing your defense. Every Capital Sexual Battery case is different, and so is the strategy. The bottom line is that we have extensive experience defending these cases in Okaloosa County. We know what works, and what doesn’t. We will craft a defense strategy that is specific to your case.
Contact Our Okaloosa County Capital Sexual Battery Defense Attorneys Today
If you or a loved one have been accused of Capital Sexual Battery in Fort Walton Beach, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 for a free, confidential case review.