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Sexual Battery Crimes in Pinellas County

In Florida, crimes of rape are prosecuted as “sexual battery.” Other states sometimes use the term “sexual assault.” No matter what you call it, any accusation of having sex without consent is extremely serious.

The most common accusation involves a woman claiming to have been too drunk from alcohol or impaired by controlled substances to have consented to a sexual encounter. Unfortunately, false allegations are also more common in those types of cases.

How does Florida define the term “sexual battery?”

Section 794.011, F.S., defines the crime of “sexual battery” to mean oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object.

Sexual battery offenses are classified according to certain factors including the offender’s age, the victim’s age, and specified circumstances.

Attorney for Sexual Battery in Pinellas County, FL

After an allegation of rape, sexual assault, or sexual battery in Pinellas County, FL, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

We can help you during each phase of the investigation for any crime of violence in Pinellas County. For such a serious accusation, you should never make a statement to law enforcement until after you have spoken to an attorney.

The alleged victim, or someone acting on their behalf, might contact you during a secretly recorded conversation, so never speak to anyone else about the allegations other than your attorney.

During the consultation, we can help you understand the charges pending against you, the way those cases are typically prosecuted, and the best way to avoid the potential penalties that might come with that charge.

Our office is located at 14010 Roosevelt Blvd Suite 701, Clearwater, FL 33762-3820. 

Call 727-210-7004.


Penalties for Sexual Battery Crimes in Florida

Crimes for sexual battery are some of the most serious crimes prosecuted under Florida law. How many years in jail can a person get if they are convicted of sexual battery in Florida?

Without any specified circumstances, a sexual battery is generally classified as a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen (15) years imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $10,000.

Section 794.011(4), F.S., provides that when the sexual battery is committed and any of the specified circumstances discussed below are present, then the crime is charged as a first degree felony. Florida law punishes first degree felonies in one of two ways.

Generally, a first degree felony is punishable by up to thirty (30) years of imprisonment. The statute might specifically provide, however, that the first degree felony may be punished by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life imprisonment as explained by Section 775.082, F.S.

Section 794.011(4)(a) and (d), F.S., provides it a first degree felony punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life when:

  • A person 18 years of age or older commits sexual battery on a person 12 years of age or older, but younger than 18 years of age without that person’s consent, under any of the specified circumstances.
  • A person commits sexual battery on a person 12 years of age or older without that person’s consent, under any of the specified circumstances, and that person was previously convicted of certain crimes including:
    • s. 847.0135(5), F.S., relating to computer pornography;
    • ch. 794, F.S., relating to sexual battery, except s. 794.011(10), F.S., which criminalizes false allegations against specified persons;
    • s. 825.1025, F.S., relating to lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of an elderly or disabled person;
    • s. 787.01(3)(a)2. or 3., F.S., relating to kidnapping; s. 787.02(3)(a)2. or 3., F.S., relating to false imprisonment; s. 800.04, F.S., relating to lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age; or
    • s. 787.01(2), F.S., relating to kidnapping, or s. 787.02(2), F.S., relating to false imprisonment, when the violation involved a victim who was a minor and, in the course of committing that violation, the defendant committed against the minor a sexual battery under this chapter or a lewd act under s. 800.04 or s. 847.0135(5), F.S.;

Section 794.011(4)(b) and (c), F.S., provides it is a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years of imprisonment when:

  • A person 18 years of age or older commits sexual battery on a person 18 years of age or older without that person’s consent, under any of the specified circumstances.
  • A person younger than 18 years of age commits sexual battery on a person 12 years of age or older without that person’s consent, under any of the specified circumstances.

Specified Circumstances in a Sexual Battery Case in Florida

Section 794.011(4)(e), F.S., provides the following specified circumstances that apply to the offenses described above:

  • Physically helpless
    • The victim is physically helpless to resist
    • Section 794.011(1)(e), F.S., provides that “physically helpless” means unconscious, asleep, or for any other reason physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act
  • Physically Incapacitated
    • The victim is physically incapacitated
    • Section 794.011(1)(j), F.S., provides that “physically incapacitated” is defined as “bodily impaired or handicapped and substantially limited in ability to resist or flee”
  • Mentally Incapacitated
    • The offender, without the prior knowledge or consent of the victim, administers or has knowledge of someone else administering to the victim any narcotic, anesthetic, or other intoxicating substance that mentally or physically incapacitated the victim
    • Section 794.011(1)(j), F.S., provides that “physically incapacitated” means bodily impaired or handicapped and substantially limited in ability to resist or flee
  • Mentally Defective
    • The victim is mentally defective, and the offender has reason to believe this or has actual knowledge of the fact
    • Section 794.011(1)(b), F.S., provides that “mentally defective” means a mental disease or defect which renders a person temporarily or permanently incapable of appraising the nature of his or her conduct
  • Coercion
    • The offender coerces the victim to submit by threatening the use of force or violence likely to cause serious personal injury to the victim, and the victim reasonably believes that the offender has the present ability to execute the threat;
  • Threats of Retaliation
    • The offender coerces the victim to submit by threatening to retaliate against the victim, or any other person, and the victim reasonably believes that the offender has the ability to execute the threat in the future;
  • Designated Position of Offender
    • The offender is a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer, or is an elected official exempt from such certification, or any other person in a position of control or authority in a probation, community control, controlled release, detention, custodial, or similar setting
    • Such officer, official, or person is acting in such a manner as to lead the victim to reasonably believe that the offender is in a position of control or authority as an agent or employee of the government.

Sexual Battery Based on Mental Incapacitation

Under Section 794.011(1)(c), F.S., a “mentally incapacitated person” is defined as “temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling a person’s own conduct due to the influence of a narcotic, anesthetic, or intoxicating substance administered without his or her consent or due to any other act committed upon that person without his or her consent.”

Under 794.022(4), F.S., evidence of the victim’s mental incapacity is admissible to prove that the consent to sexual activity was not intelligent, knowing, or voluntary and the court must instruct the jury accordingly in such cases.

A person is not deemed “mentally incapacitated,” under s. 794.011, F.S., if they knowingly and voluntarily consumed a narcotic, anesthetic, or other intoxicating substance.

For this reason, “the Florida sexual battery statute does not place voluntary drug or alcohol consumption on the same footing as involuntary consumption; if they were to be treated as equivalent, the statute would say so.” Coley v. State, 616 So. 2d 1017, 1023 (Fla. 3d DCA 1993).

When it comes to the issue of providing consent for sexual activity, “[t]he prevailing view is that voluntary
consumption of drugs or alcohol, does not, without more, render consent involuntary.” Id.

Read more about how sexual battery crimes are prosecuted in Tampa, FL.


This article was last updated on Friday, June 17, 2022.

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