Florida jails and prisons have historically experienced significant problems with rape and sexual assault among inmates. Additionally, the correctional staff is often involved in sexually assaulting inmates. In response to increasing public concern with the endemic prison rape problem nationwide, the United States Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003. The PREA mandates reporting requirements and the required responses to allegations or evidence of a sexual assault in a correctional facility. A man who was recently convicted of sexual battery for conduct that was reported to authorities based upon the PREA requirements has challenged his conviction in the Florida Court of Appeal.
The defendant in the recently decided appeal was convicted after being arrested for allegedly assaulting his cellmate while the two of them were inmates at a Florida correctional facility. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the defendant demanded that the victim perform sexual acts on him, physically assaulted the victim when he attempted to resist and threatened the victim with escalating attacks to be committed by others if the victim did not cooperate. The defendant was tried for sexual battery, which requires a threat of serious harm or pain to coerce sexual activity. A jury found that the defendant committed sexual battery based on the threats and physical injuries to the victim as reported under the PREA.
The defendant appealed his conviction to the Florida Court of Appeal, arguing that any assault committed or threatened by the defendant was not capable of causing serious injury or pain as the statute requires. Further, the defendant argued that any threats of violence were not authentic because the two men were detained in a secure facility, and no other inmates could reasonably be seen as a threat to the victim. The appellate court soundly rejected the defendant’s arguments. Noting that the victim had visible injuries and reportedly received escalating threats from the defendant, the court held that a reasonable jury could infer that the victim suffered serious pain, or the threat thereof. As a result of the appellate opinion, the defendant’s conviction will stand.
Sexual assault allegations from a Florida correctional facility should always be taken seriously by correctional officers, investigators, and prosecutors. The vulnerable position that inmates are in makes reporting, enforcement, and prevention of sexual assaults in Florida Correctional facilities more difficult. Sexual assault allegations in correctional facilities may be manufactured or exaggerated, as jail politics and the abundance of free time available to inmates may encourage false allegations.
Have You Been Charged with a Florida Sex Crime?
If you have been accused of a sexual crime, either while behind bars or elsewhere, finding a qualified Florida sex crimes defense attorney can help you beat the charges. If you are facing sex crime allegations for conduct occurring in the state of Florida, the experienced Florida sex crime defense attorneys with the Mayberry Law firm want to help you fight the charges against you. Our dedicated criminal lawyers have successfully defended clients against sex crime charges before, obtaining dismissals and not guilty verdicts at trial. Contact our office at 813-444-7435 or email me directly at email@example.com to talk about your case.