Since 1972, 30 Floridians have been exonerated while on Death Row– this is important because a new statute means the death penalty can now be pursued for cases of capital sexual battery in Florida. These cases, also referred to as child sexual battery, are some of the most hot-button ones we take here at Rossen Law Firm.
Today, we’re going to discuss what capital sexual battery is and what this new statute means for defendants.
According to Fla. Stat. § 794.011, capital sexual battery is when “a person 18 years of age or older… injures the sexual organs of a person less than 12 years of age” while committing or attempting to commit sexual battery.
It is important to note that the prosecutor does not always pursue the death penalty in these cases. If they do choose to seek the death penalty, they need to inform the defendant no more than 45 days after arraignment.
In Furman v. Georgia, the court determined that the death penalty could be a cruel and unusual punishment. Kennedy v. Louisiana created an additional precedent when the court determined that the death penalty should not be imposed in cases where the victim lived, or the victim’s death was unintentional.
Typically, the death penalty is pursued in cases where life has been taken. Examples include serial killings and school shootings. Every single execution since 1976 has occurred after the person convicted took a life.
This precedent calls into question whether it’s constitutional for a defendant to get the death penalty for child sexual battery.
In Florida, that question is complicated due to the dueling cases of Hurst v. Florida and State v. Poole. While Hurst v. Florida stated that a jury must unanimously decide on the death penalty, State v. Poole stated that only a majority eight to four decision was necessary.
Since the mid-1990s, new death sentences in the US have fallen by over 85%- reflecting a broader shift in society, which is moving away from capital punishment overall. Instead of trying to kill more people, there’s been a push to understand these cases better and thus understand how we can better prevent them.
There are many reasons to be concerned by Fla. Stat. § 794.011. As we’ve discussed, there are both ethical and Constitutional questions. That said, it will take time for these questions to be brought to the Supreme Court.
If you are charged with capital sexual battery – or any sex crime – it’s essential to know that the tide is turning and the laws are becoming stricter. It’s vital to achieve your best future by finding the proper legal representation.
Call our office to schedule an appointment for a free consultation:
Fort Lauderdale: (754) 208-0510
Sunrise: (754) 225-6961
Boca Raton: (561) 872-2415
Rossen Law Firm’s legal team understands what’s at stake when you’re charged with a crime in South Florida. We’re committed to defending you and protecting your rights. Our legal team is ready to create a customized strategy for your case to fight for the best possible outcome. We handle Criminal, DUI, Federal, Domestic Violence, Marchman Act & Baker Act cases, and more.
Rossen Law Firm