Few offenses come with the stigma that being accused of rape does. Just being charged with the crime of rape can have a profoundly negative impact on your work, social, and family life. Unfortunately, the general public often forgets that there is a difference between being accused of a crime and being convicted of that crime. In fact, one of the most common defenses to the charge of rape is that the victim consented.
In the State of Florida, the crime of rape is actually referred to as “sexual battery.” Within the statute for sexual battery, the defense of consent is defined as follows:
“Consent” means intelligent, knowing, and voluntary consent and does not include coerced submission. “Consent” shall not be deemed or construed to mean the failure by the alleged victim to offer physical resistance to the offender.
Alleging that the victim consented to the sexual conduct is easy enough. Proving that the victim consented is often much more difficult. As a general rule, the only two people present during the conduct in question were the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator. Therefore, it often becomes a case of “he said, she said.” In that case, a jury would have to decide which person is more believable if the case went to trial; however, remember that the jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt in order to convict. Therefore, if they only find the alleged victim’s story a little bit more convincing than yours they should reach a not guilty verdict.
Also, it is crucial to remember that if the alleged victim was under the age of 18 at the time of the conduct in question the defense of consent is not available. In Florida, the age of consent is 18, meaning that an individual cannot legally consent to sexual conduct prior to the age of 18. This rule applies without regard for the alleged victim’s conduct, meaning that even if the alleged victim initiated the encounter, consent still won’t work because the law says that anyone under 18 cannot consent. Florida does have a “Romeo and Juliet” law though which may allow the defense of consent if the alleged victim was 16 or 17 years old at the time and you were no longer than 23 years old at the time of the alleged conduct.
If you are currently facing charges for rape, or sexual battery, in the State of Florida it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Contact the criminal defense team at Powers Sellers & Finkelstein PLC by calling 727-531-2926 today to schedule your appointment.