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Tampa Criminal Attorney > Blog > Criminal Defense > Sex Crimes Defenses in Florida

Sex Crimes Defenses in Florida


Many people believe that sex offenders in the Sunshine State are homogenous. A consensual Romeo and Juliet sexual relationship, if Romeo was a little too old and Juliet was a little too young, is just as bad as Friar Lawrence sexually assaulting Lady Capulet. This common misperception underscores the need for a vigorous defense in these cases. The lasting consequences of any sex crime conviction could be overwhelming.

Because so much is at stake in a sex offense case, an all-or-nothing trial is a risky proposition. So, a Tampa criminal defense lawyer generally leverages one of the defenses discussed below during pretrial settlement negotiations. Usually, these negotiations result in a plea to a lesser included non-sexual offense, like reckless conduct. Alternatively, an attorney can limit the registration requirement, so the offense remains as private as possible.


The Fourth Amendment often applies in unlawful possession cases, such as possession of illegal pornography. This Constitutional provisions limits searches and seizures to those involving:

  • Owner Consent: Rules regarding search and seizure consent aren’t quite as restrictive as those involving sex act consent. Nevertheless, search and seizure consent is still a voluntary, affirmative act that the state must document.
  • Plain View: If officers see contraband items in plain view, they don’t need search warrants to seize them. These seizures are usually in a gray area. Most people don’t use a child pornography picture as their computer or smartphone wallpaper.
  • Vehicle Searches: If officers have probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime is inside a vehicle, they need not stop to obtain warrants. Much like a warrant-based search, probable cause vehicle searches must be limited. Officers cannot look for pornography in tailpipes.

The Fifth Amendment often applies in all sex crimes cases. Officers cannot ask questions until they give defendants their Miranda rights. The right to remain silent also includes the right to physical silence, such as posing in a photo or appearing in a lineup.


Prosecutors must establish every element of every sex crime offense beyond a reasonable doubt, a standard of proof which basically means thinking twice about a fact before reaching a conclusion.

Rape kit sexual battery cases are a good example. A rape kit proves the defendant and alleged victim had sex. However, it doesn’t prove if the sex was consensual or not. More on that below.

Probation violation sex offenses are different. In these cases, the state must only prove the offense by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Other constitutional protections may be inapplicable in these cases as well. For example, as a condition of probation, many defendants must agree to warrantless searches.


The burden of proof shifts in consent and other affirmative defense matters. A Tampa criminal defense lawyer must admit that the defendant committed the offense and then convince jurors that an affirmative defense applies.

Consent, perhaps the most common sexual violence affirmative defense, is a good example. “Yes means yes,” as opposed to no means no, is the prevailing consent interpretation in Florida. So, instead of creating a reasonable doubt, the defendant must prove the victim said yes. That’s obviously a very tall order in many cases.

 Count on a Detail-Oriented  Hillsborough County Attorney

A criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, contact the OA Law Firm. Convenient payment plans are available.

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