Charged With A Sex Offense In Florida? Seek Guidance From Skilled Criminal Defense Attorneys!
Facing a sex offense charge in Florida can be overwhelming and frightening, but you don't have to go through it alone. The skilled sex crimes lawyers of the Watson Firm, PLLC are here to protect your rights and fight for your freedom as your felony case unfolds. Our seasoned criminal defense attorneys have a proven track record of successfully defending individuals who are facing felony charges against sex crime accusations, and we're prepared to do the same for you. Don't wait to secure the legal help you need to successfully navigate your sex offense situation. Call our respected criminal defense lawyers today at (850) 607-2929 or visit us online to schedule a confidential consultation and begin building your robust sex crimes defense strategy while there is still time to pursue a favorable outcome.
Below, The Watson Firm, PLLC discusses a key piece of Florida law known as the Dangerous Sexual Felony Offender Act. This law applies to individuals who face at least one severe sex crimes charge and provides strict sentencing guidelines for those convicted under it.
Who Is A Dangerous Sexual Felony Offender?
Under Florida law, an individual is deemed a dangerous sexual felony offender if they commit certain specific sexual offenses listed in the statute (including various degrees of sexual battery, lewd or lascivious behavior, computer pornography, and child exploitation) when they are 18 years old or older. The circumstances that trigger this designation include:
- If the offender caused serious injury to the victim while the crime was being committed.
- If a deadly weapon was used or threatened to be used during the crime.
- If the offender victimized more than one person during the incident in question.
- If the offender committed the crime after committing a felony in the past.
- If the offender has a criminal record related to specific offenses.
What Does This Mean For Sentencing?
If someone is convicted and classified as a dangerous sexual felony offender, they will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison, with the possibility of a life sentence. If the crime was committed after September 30, 2014, the mandatory minimum sentence is raised to 50 years, again with the possibility of life imprisonment. This is one of the many reasons why it’s so important to be proactive about seeking guidance from an experienced criminal defense attorney. The consequences associated with a sex crimes conviction are truly life-altering.
The law clarifies that the sentencing applies even if a factor leading to the "dangerous offender" designation is a part of the committed offense itself. It also specifies that the committed crime should be after the last prior conviction for any offense that contributes to this designation.
Sentencing And Early Release
Sentencing under this law must adhere to the specified mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment, regardless of other laws or interpretations. The law specifically states that the minimum sentence must be applied, period.
Moreover, an individual sentenced under this law cannot benefit from statutory gain-time (an early release program) or any form of early release subject to discretion, except for pardon, conditional medical release, or clemency until they've served their mandatory minimum sentence. This means that the offender must complete the minimum term of the sentence before they can be considered for early release.
What Offenses Could Classify Me As A Dangerous Sexual Felony Offender In Florida?
The Dangerous Sexual Felony Offender Act covers specific sexual offenses such as sexual battery, lewd or lascivious behavior, computer pornography, and child exploitation committed when you're 18 years old or older. If you're convicted of one of these offenses, you may be classified as a dangerous sexual felony offender.
What Are The Sentencing Guidelines Under This Act?
If you're convicted under this act, you face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to life imprisonment. If the crime was committed after September 30, 2014, the mandatory minimum sentence increases to 50 years.
Can I Get Early Release Or Gain-Time If I'm Sentenced Under This Law?
No, if you’re convicted, you won’t be eligible for any form of early release that is discretionary, save for pardons, conditional medical release, or executive clemency until you've served your mandatory minimum sentence.
What If One Of The Factors Triggering The "Dangerous Offender" Designation Is Part Of The Crime I'm Charged With?
The law specifies that it's irrelevant if a factor triggering the "dangerous offender" designation is part of the offense itself. The designated minimum sentence must still be applied.
What Happens If The Mandatory Sentence Under This Law Is More Than The Maximum Sentence Under Another Law?
The law clarifies that even if the mandatory sentence exceeds the maximum sentence under other laws, the mandatory minimum sentence under this law must still be applied.
Navigating defenses for sexual felony charges can be complex, especially under the Dangerous Sexual Felony Offender Act in Florida, given the seriousness of the offenses covered and the severe penalties involved. While every case is unique and requires a personalized legal strategy crafted by a knowledgeable sex crimes lawyer, the following defenses may be considered depending on the specific circumstances of your case:
Challenge To The Age Of The Accused
The Dangerous Sexual Felony Offender Act applies to offenses committed when the individual is 18 years of age or older. If you can prove that you were under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged crime, it could be a potential defense.
Challenging The Evidence
This involves critically examining the evidence brought against you. Your attorney can scrutinize the collection, storage, and processing of evidence such as DNA, witness statements, or any other physical evidence. If any discrepancies or procedural errors are found, it might lead to the evidence being deemed inadmissible.
Contesting The "Serious Personal Injury"
The statute specifies serious personal injury as a qualifying factor for being a dangerous sexual felony offender. If you can challenge the severity of the injury inflicted, questioning whether it truly amounts to the severity required by law, our sex crimes attorneys might be able to defend against the charge.
Lack Of Prior Convictions
If the prosecution is relying on prior convictions to label you as a dangerous sexual felony offender and you can demonstrate that such convictions do not exist or are not valid, this can serve as a strong defense.
In some cases, you might be able to argue that the alleged victim consented to the sexual act. However, this can be a complex and delicate defense to put forward, as it requires a deep understanding of the legal definitions and implications of consent.
Unfortunately, false accusations of sexual offenses do occur. If you can provide evidence that the charges against you are based on false accusations, it could lead to the dismissal of the charges.
Facing A Sex Offense Charge In Florida? Consult Our Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers!
If you or someone you know has been accused of a sex offense in Florida, the consequences can be severe, potentially leading to long-term imprisonment, registration as a sex offender, and a tainted reputation. Don't navigate this complex legal process alone; trust the dedicated sex crimes attorneys at The Watson Firm, PLLC to vigorously defend your rights. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers possess a deep understanding of Florida's sex crime laws and have successfully handled numerous cases, earning a reputation for achieving favorable outcomes for our clients. When your future is on the line, we provide the assertive representation you need. Contact the criminal defense lawyer team at The Watson Firm, PLLC today at (850) 607-2929 or reach out to us online for a confidential and comprehensive case evaluation.