The Role Physical State Plays in a Sexual Battery Charge

February 22, 2022 Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes

Florida does not take sexual assault allegations lightly. In fact, sex crimes may receive some of the harshest penalties in the state of Florida. Sexual battery is the legal term for rape, and depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense, can result in different legal repercussions. The physical state of the alleged victim is one of the circumstances the court will look at when determining the appropriate punishment for sexual battery.

Section 794.011 of the Florida Statutes codifies the crime of sexual battery. Under the statute, if the alleged victim appeared to have been “physically helpless to resist,” that evidence would support a first-degree felony charge against the defendant. Often in sexual battery cases, the inclusion of alcohol or being severely under the influence of alcohol is mentioned in the case.

If the defendant claims the alleged victim consented to sexual acts but the victim has no recollection from being intoxicated, it may not be enough to persuade a jury. We will review the current regulations around sexual battery in Florida and review a current case to see just how much the physical state of the victim can affect a sexual battery case.

Finding a Sexual Battery Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Getting accused of a sex crime is a very serious accusation. Along with expensive fines, going to court, and potentially facing jail time, a sexual crimes conviction can affect the rest of your life. Collateral consequences to such a conviction include losing your job, not being able to rent or buy a house, and facing significant social stigma. If you have been accused of a sex crime, you should immediately seek legal help. The legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have years of experience representing sexual battery defendants and will zealously advocate on your behalf.. Call (850) 681-7777 today and receive a free consultation regarding your case.

Sexual Battery Charges in Florida

Under Florida Statute section 794.011, sexual battery  is defined as “any vaginal, oral, or anal penetration, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object (excluding acts done for a bona fide medical purpose)”.

A sexual battery offense where the defendant did not use a weapon and the victim was above the age of 12 would result in a first-degree felony charge. The following are characteristics of sexual battery as a first-degree felony:

  • The victim appeared helpless to resist
  • The accused offender used force or violence to coerce the victim into the sexual act
  • The accused offender threatened the victim or another person with retaliation to execute the sexual act
  • The accused offender administered themselves, or had the knowledge of someone else giving the victim any intoxicating substance which had mentally or physically incapacitated the victim without their consent
  • The victim was physically incapacitated, including being handicapped
  • The accused offender is a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, probation officer, or any other person in a position of power or authority in detention, community control, probation, or similar situation

A first-degree felony conviction of sexual battery is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Pertinent Example

In Abdallah v. State, a recent sexual assault case in Miami, defendant Nimer Abdallah was accused of raping one of his passengers while working as an Uber driver. He received an Uber request from the bartender of a bar—where the victim and her friend had been kicked out of for being intoxicated. Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal rendered a final decision, taking into account the physical state of the victim when the crime occurred.

When the defendant picked up the victim and her friend from the bar, he not only drove them back to their apartment, but also helped them to get inside. After entering the apartment, the defendant and the victim engaged in sexual intercourse. The defendant claimed the sex was consensual because the victim had initiated the intercourse by kissing him.

The victim woke up the next morning with no memory of the evening and claimed she had hit her head earlier in the evening at the bar. She then sought out a rape treatment center after her friend relayed the events that occurred the previous evening with the defendant. The victim’s friend testified in court, claiming that the victim appeared to be “limp” and out of it, even stating that the victim was passed out in her bed. The friend also testified that it was the defendant who had initiated the sexual intercourse.

The defendant was charged with two counts of felony sexual battery, as well as a felony burglary charge. This is because the defendant had unlawfully remained in the victim’s apartment to commit the sexual battery. To read more about burglary in Florida, visit our page here.

After reviewing the case, the court held that because the victim was considered physically helpless and incapacitated at the time of the crime, the defendant was guilty of a first-degree felony. The defendant was found guilty on all charges and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

The Defendant’s Appeal

After the defendant was convicted, he filed an appeal and argued he should be acquitted based on the legal precedent of Coley vs. State. In that specific case, a woman who had accused a man of sexual assault later claimed in court that she may have actually consented to the sexual acts. This created a reasonable doubt within the case, which then resulted in the appellate court deciding to reverse the sexual battery conviction.

However, the Third District held that Coley was distinguishable and contrary to the defendant’s argument, did not compel reversal of his conviction. The defendant was not entitled to acquittal because the victim did not remember the sexual encounter at all and expressed in court that she had no recollection that she had ever given consent. Therefore, the defendant’s conviction was affirmed.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Any charge involving a sex crime is an incredibly serious offense and one that may come with life altering affects. If you or someone you know has been accused of sexual battery—or any sex crime, it is imperative that you seek out the help from an experienced defense attorney. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients for different types of battery and sex crimes across the state of Florida and are prepared to explore every applicable defense in your case. Contact our firm at (850) 681-7777 today and receive a free consultation regarding your case.

Written by Karissa Key

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