Rape historically has been defined as non-consensual penetration of any bodily orifice of the victim by the perpetrator. The penetration can be by an inanimate object as well as the attacker’s sex organ. Note also that while the vast majority of reported incidents of sexual battery involve a male defendant and a female victim, due to a fairly recent change under Florida law an attack on a male in the manner described above by a male or female may also lead to rape charges. Technically, Florida law no longer recognizes a separate crime of rape. Instead, the offense is included under the broader offense of “sexual battery“. As with all crimes, the prosecutor must prove the existence of each required element of sexual battery. There are two such elements:

The oral, vaginal, or anal penetration of the victim by the defendant with his or her sexual organ or an object and the lack of voluntary, intelligent and knowing consent.

If the victim was under the age of twelve at the time of the assault, the law presumes that she or he was unable to give meaningful, informed consent to the act, and the prosecutor does not have to show this element of the crime. Moreover, if the defendant was eighteen years old or older at the time, he or she can face the death penalty or incarceration for life without parole if convicted.

In the case of an older victim, the prosecutor must show that the victim did not consent. Under Florida state laws, the prosecutor needs to show a lack of consent, but does not need to show resistance or protest; the defendant’s use of violence or the threat of violence is sufficient. In addition, a sexual battery charge may also be filed when the defendant did not physically restrain or threaten the victim, but drugged or otherwise rendered him or her impaired or unconscious. Finally, the victim may be fully conscious but have a mental disability that makes it impossible for him or her to give meaningful consent.

In the past, the victim’s prior sexual experience could be raised by the defense in order to call into question the contention that the act was not consensual. The humiliation this caused undoubtedly resulted in many assaults going unreported. Today, Florida law prohibits discussion of the victim’s prior sexual conduct. In the case of an adult defendant and a victim under the age of twelve, the defendant cannot claim mistake or lack of knowledge regarding the victim’s age, even if the victim herself or himself misled the accused. Penalties for those convicted of sexual battery vary, depending upon the ages of the victim and the defendant, whether a weapon was used and the extent of injury suffered by the victim. The sentence for sexual battery committed on a victim over the age of twelve is up to fifteen years’ imprisonment. However, if the prosecutor can establish the existence of certain additional facts, such as use of a deadly weapon or the victim’s physical incapacity, the penalty may be substantially greater.

Obtaining Qualified Legal Representation-Sources estimate that nearly 1 in 6 Florida women have been the victims of sexual battery.  If you have been charged with sexual battery, you need the advice and assistance of an experienced and aggressive defense attorney. With offices in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, Orner Law, LLC represents South Florida residents charged with serious crimes. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.