In June 2019, officers in Pinellas County arrested a Tampa man for sexual battery on a child under the age of 12.
Just reading that first sentence in incendiary. It is a parent's worst nightmare and one we all hope will not touch our families. We understand that it can be difficult to look past a media headline aimed at evoking an emotional response and read through to discover all of the facts of a specific case.
As defense attorneys, we believe that the most meaningful portion of our nation's constitution are the clauses ensuring that every person facing a criminal charge is not only ensured a fair trial but also the right to counsel.
In this recently publicized case, Prudencio Diaz has been accused of sexually battery during the 1990s - more than 20 years ago. The individual accusing Mr. Diaz reported her claims to authorities in May 2019, and through undisclosed “investigative techniques,” officers corroborated the claims and made the arrest.
About the Charge
Sexual battery is a serious charge. Since Florida statutes use different terminology than many other states, sexual battery can be more accutartely described as rape in others areas of the country. Accordingly, conviction of such a crime carries with it lengthy sentences and mandatory fines and fees.
Florida's sexual battery statute also considers other factors about each incident of sexual battery to determine if punishments should be enhanced for those who are convicted of the crime. For example, a prosecutor or a sentencing judge will review the age of the parties involved, the injury to the victim, the mental capacity of the victim, and the use and extent of physical force.
Florida Statute 794.011 defines sexual battery as orally, anally, or vaginally penetrating, or having union with, the sexual organ of another. Sexual battery also encompasses anally or vaginally penetrating another with any other object. Unlike other sex crimes in Florida, to maintain a charge of sexual battery, the State Attorney must prove that there was a penetration or union between the victim and the defendant without the victim's consent.
Media and the Presumption of Innocence
With few details and an inflammatory headline, the media - with the help of sources inside the police department - has tainted the hope of Mr. Diaz being able to fully receive his constitutional right of presumption of innocence if his case were to be taken to trial.
Defending clients, especially those who have been charged with violent or untoward crimes, is not difficult for a principled defense lawyer because we understand that our representation is bigger than one individual case. Ensuring that every person accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt stabilizes and maintains the freedom from undue prosecution for all Americans.
Contact an Attorney
If you have been charged with the crime of sexual battery and are wondering where to turn, contact us today for a consultation to better understand Florida laws and how we at the OA Law firm can share our expertise with you. We are a group of dedicated and passionate attorneys ready to defend and protect your rights.