| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sex Crimes

Title IX Updates

  Guilty until proven innocent.  Forget due process, it barely exists.  Cross-examination of your accuser, forget about it.  Am I speaking about the criminal justice system in Russia?  No, I am speaking about the Title IX hearing held on college campuses around the country for allegations of sexual misconduct.  Let me repeat that last part, “allegations of sexual misconduct”. The first time I assisted someone with a university hearing for allegations of sexual misconduct I was blown away.  Notice I said “assisted someone”.  You see, at these hearings they did not allow an attorney to speak or present evidence or be present in an advisory capacity.  The accused had to defend him or herself.  Certainly, it makes sense that an 18 year old kid would be expected to conduct a hearing that had ramifications for the future of their education much less the rest of their life.  Additionally, the accused could not ask the accuser questions.  The person who is making accusations, very serious accusations was free from having to answer any questions from the accused.  And the standard of proof?  Preponderance of evidence, which means that they were more likely than not to have committed the infraction. Thankfully, some of these rules have been amended and will be going into effect in August of 2020.  The U.S. Department of Education has issued the final version on how schools handle allegations of sexual harassment and assault.  The new rules allow for the accused and the accuser to submit evidence and participate in cross-examination in live proceedings.  The provision allowing for cross-examination of the accuser is already drawing criticism from victim’s rights groups.  They fear that allowing the accuser to be questioned will have a chilling effect on a victim willing to come forward with accusations of sexual misconduct.  While victim’s rights are important, a more balanced approach to these proceedings were needed.  In a statement released by the Department of Education Secretary Devos said “This new regulation requires schools to act in meaningful ways to support survivors of sexual misconduct, without sacrificing important safeguards to ensure a fair and transparent process.”  I think that is all anyone could really ever ask for, support the victim, but make sure that the accused is treated fairly.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Internet Crimes

Florida Police Arrest 23 Child Predator Suspects

At the end of September, Florida law enforcement officials arrested 23 suspected child predators and human traffickers. The arrests came after the police engaged in a four-day sting operation. During the sting operation, the officers used popular online phone applications to pretend to be underage children. Police officers called the sting operation “Operation Intercept VII.” Law enforcement officers arrested 23 suspects ranging in age from 21 to 77.  How Did Law Enforcement Officers Discover the Alleged Predators? The law enforcement officials involved set several snares to catch alleged child predators. The officers set up online advertisements, profiles on popular applications, and profiles on social media websites. The alleged child predators responded to the advertisements and social media profiles. One suspect sent over 90 sexually explicit photographs to the detective on the other end of the snare.  The detectives behind the operation sent the alleged sexual predators their addresses. Several of the suspects brought condoms with them to the meet-up. One suspect brought candy and another brought a sex-toy.  Parents Should be Extremely Careful When it Comes to Online Access A Florida sheriff’s office has warned parents about the dangers of online application usage. In a recent statement, he reminded parents that they are the first defense between their innocent children and sexual predators. Some of the following applications as the most dangerous for young adults and children: Kik Snapchat Ask.fm Whisper Blendr WhatsApp GroupMe Chatous Zoosk Plenty of Fish Grindr Bumble TikTok When teenagers are more technologically savvy than their parents, they may be able to successfully hide dangerous application usage. Nonetheless, there are several applications that parents can use to block apps known to be dangerous. It can be challenging to protect children from online predators.  Traveling With the Intent of Having Sex With a Child Florida law enforcement officers have arrested all 23 suspects for traveling with the intent of having sex with a child.  Florida Statute 847.0135(4) makes it illegal to travel any distance within, from, or to Florida “for the purpose of engaging in unlawful sexual conduct with an after having used an online service or electronic device to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice the child to engage in unlawful sexual conduct.”  In many instances, prosecutors who charge a defendant with traveling with the intent of having sex with a child also charge the defendant with the crime of soliciting a child for unlawful sex through a computer. It is important to understand that suspects cannot make the defense that a law enforcement agent was undercover, pretending to be a child. Law enforcement officers are free to pose as a child or child’s parent during the undercover investigation.  Another undercover investigation technique that cannot be raised as a defense is known as the “bait-and-switch.” This occurs when the law enforcement officer begins the conversation by proposing to engage in lawful sexual behavior. But the undercover officer then quickly changes the conversation from having a legal sexual relationship to an unlawful sexual encounter with a minor child. In Florida, those convicted face up to 15 years in jail, 15 years probation and up to a $10,000 fine. If you are facing a criminal charge of Traveling to Meet a Minor to commit an Unlawful Sex Act, we can help. Our experienced Orlando criminal defense attorneys can skillfully advocate on your behalf.  Contact our law office today to set up your free initial consultation. 

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sex Crimes

Consequences of Child Sex Abuse in Florida

Few crimes carry the same social stigma as child sexual abuse. The mere hint of impropriety involving a minor can unravel a person’s career, reputation, and lead to serious criminal charges. Unfortunately, child sex abuse is a serious problem in Florida. According to the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, about 44 percent of sexual assault and rape victim are legal minors–persons under the age of 18–and about 15 percent are children who have not yet celebrated their 12th birthdays. Orlando Man Charged With Sexually Abusing Toddler in Bathroom Recently, residents of the Orlando area were shocked to hear reports that a local daycare provider had been arrested and charged with sexually abusing a 2-year-old toddler in a restaurant bathroom. An eyewitness told police that he observed the accused and the child through a crack in the bathroom stall door. When the witness went to exit the bathroom, he said the accused ran him over in his wheelchair and threatened to kill him. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the accused later confessed while in police custody. Officially the man is charged with a number of offenses including sexual battery. Under Section 794.011 of the Florida Statutes, sexual battery refers to any act involving “oral, anal, or vaginal penetration” with another sexual organ or object. When, as alleged in the case above, an adult commits sexual battery against a person under the age of 12, it is a capital felony–i.e., a crime punishable by life imprisonment. The accused is also charged with lewd or lascivious molestation. Section 800.04 of the Florida Statutes defines this as intentionally touching the genitals or “genital area” of someone under the age of 16. When the offender is an adult and the victim is under 12, Florida charges this offense as a life felony, which carries a minimum prison sentence of 40 years. A Florida Child Sex Crimes Conviction Follows You For Life As you can see, Florida takes sex crimes against children extremely seriously. Even in cases where the defendant does not spend decades–or the rest of his or her life–in prison, a child sex abuse conviction does not go away even after a sentence is served. That is because Florida requires virtually anyone convicted in the U.S. of a sex crime involving a child to register as a “sexual predator” for life. Registration is not a minor inconvenience. Florida restricts where registered sexual predators may live and work. For instance, under Section 775.215 of the Florida Statutes a person convicted of a sex crime against someone under the age of 16 cannot live within 1,000 feet of any preexisting “school, child care facility, park, or playground.” Given the potential life-altering consequences of a child sex abuse allegation, it is critical you have experienced counsel at your side when dealing with police, prosecutors, and the courts. The Orlando sex crimes defense lawyers at Moses & Rooth can help. Call us today at (407) 377-0150 if you are facing allegations or charges of sexually abusing a child and require immediate legal advice on how to proceed.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

Common Criminal Charges Against School Teachers

Teachers exercise an important role in supervising and mentoring our children. It is a position of trust. And when that trust is violated, the legal consequences can be quite severe. We have all heard sensationalized stories in the news about teachers having sex with their underage students. Sometimes people write this off as a “victimless” crime. After all, if the student consented, what’s the harm? Florida law does not see it that way. The age of consent in Florida is 18. This is not a mere suggestion or guideline. Even if your teenager is “very mature for his or her age,” the law states that a person age 17 or younger cannot legally consent to participate in sexual activity. Florida Sex Crimes Involving a Teacher When a teacher has sexual intercourse (i.e. there is penetration) with a 16- or 17-year-old student, it is a felony. Specifically, if the teacher is at least 24 at the time, he or she faces up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Even sexual activity short of penetration is a crime. If a teacher fools around with a student over the age of 12 by engaging in “sexual touching,” that is considered “lewd and lascivious molestation.” This can be charged up to a first-degree felony–punishable by 25 years to life in prison–if the student is younger than 12. Additionally, if a male teacher impregnates a female student as a result of sexual intercourse, he can be charged with “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.” This carries a potential prison sentence of 2 to 6 years. Keep in mind, any type of sex crimes conviction requires the defendant to register as a “sex offender” even after completing any prison sentence. Again, the fact the student agreed to have sex with a teacher is not a defense or a mitigating factor. Any sexual intercourse between a person over the age of 24 and a person under the age of 18 is illegal. Physical Abuse & Excessive Discipline In addition to sex crimes, Florida teachers may also face criminal charges if they physically abuse a student. This often comes up in the cases involving student discipline. For instance, in 2013 a fired Jacksonville teacher faced criminal charges after “allegedly punching a female middle-schooler in the face.” The teacher apparently had been trying to remove the unruly student from gym when the alleged punching occurred. And in 2014, a teacher in Coral Springs was charged with battery on a child after she allegedly made a 10-year-old student “clean a dirty urinal she thought the student had clogged.” Are You a Florida Teacher Charged With a Serious Crime? Especially in our social media-driven frenzy, there is often a rush to judgment against teachers accused of crimes against students. This is why if you are a Florida teacher charged, or even under investigation for, an illegal act involving a student, you need to speak with an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Call the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at 407-377-0150 to speak with a lawyer right away.  

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

False Rape Accusations on the Rise?

Rape and sexual assault are among the most heinous crimes a person may be charged with short of murder. Any type of sex crimes conviction carries serious penalties in Florida. A defendant is facing not only possible jail time, but also a lifetime of legal and public condemnation as a “sex offender.” Rolling Stone Scandal Shows How False Rape Accusations Go Viral Given the gravity of any rape accusation, it is imperative that law enforcement perform their due diligence before charging a suspect. Prosecutors must also be strictly held to their legal burden of proof: guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Unfortunately, in our social media-crazed age, people are quick to rush to judgment. There is an understandable, if legally misguided, view that we should “always believe the victim,” which can end up trampling on the constitutional rights of the accused. At the end of the day, a judge and jury need to see evidence beyond a mere accusation before convicting someone of a felony. And while studies have shown that the majority of rape accusations are credible–or at least, they are not deliberate fabrications, there is increasing anecdotal and scientific evidence that false allegations are on the rise. On the anecdotal side, there was a recent report about a video where a passenger using a popular ride-sharing service verbally threatened to accuse the driver of rape following a disagreement. Heat-of-the-moment exclamations are one thing. But then there are the false rape accusations that “go viral” and are willingly spread by the national news media. Consider the July 2014 report published in Rolling Stone magazine accusing several University of Virginia students of raping an unidentified female accuser. Although none of the accused students were ever charged with a crime, the uncorroborated accusation alone was enough to prompt a wave of stories decrying the purported “rape culture” on the nation’s college campuses. Rolling Stone later retracted the story after acknowledging its reporter and editors never bothered to corroborate the accuser’s story. Cathy Young, a writer for the libertarian magazine Reason, noted in the aftermath of the Rolling Stone scandal that “[t]he willingness to treat uncorroborated narratives of victimization as fact may be partly due to sensationalism,” but also “reflects a climate in which any suggestion that a woman who says she was raped may be lying is often treated as ‘victim-blaming’ or ‘rape apology.’” Have You Been Falsely Accused of Rape? But false rape accusations do happen. A study authored by a group from the University of Massachusetts and Northeastern University in Boston found that “the prevalence of false allegations is between 2 percent and 10 percent.” That may not sound like much, but consider that each false rape accusation represents a potential criminal conviction for an innocent person. This is why if you or a loved one is accused of a sex crime, you need to take it seriously. Do not assume it is a misunderstanding and that the police (and the press) will simply believe your claims of innocence. You need to speak with an Orlando criminal defense attorney who has experience in dealing with these types of cases. Contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at 407-377-0150 if you need to speak with a lawyer right away.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sex Crimes

Sex (crimes) and the City

You worked hard all day. All you want to do is get home. You get on the subway. You think “must be my lucky day, I even get a seat”. The train starts and right across from you is a guy masturbating. Such is the scene for Deana Carter. Well Ms. Carter did not take too kindly to the actions of this guy and decided to video him while she berates him. WARNING: graphic language. While gross and inappropriate, this conduct is also clearly against the law. So if this subway salami slapper is caught, and it’s likely that he will be considering this video has gone viral with almost two million views, what potential charges is he looking at? First the obvious, exposure of sexual organ. Florida Statute 800.03 states: It is unlawful to expose or exhibit one’s sexual organs in public or on the private premises of another, or so near thereto as to be seen from such private premises, in a vulgar or indecent manner, or to be naked in public except in any place provided or set apart for that purpose. Violation of this section is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. A mother’s breastfeeding of her baby does not under any circumstance violate this section. If this person is convicted of exposure of sexual organ he can be sentenced up to a year in jail or probation and a $1000.00 fine. A conviction under this statute would NOT designate the guy as a sex offender. Another charge that this guy could face is Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition. Florida Statute 800.04 states: A person who intentionally masturbates or intentionally exposes the genitals in a lewd or lascivious manner, in the presence of a victim who is less than 16 years of age, commits lewd or lascivious exhibition. If the person is over the age of 18 then the offender commits a second degree felony. If the person is under the age of 18 then the offender commits a third degree felony. If this guy is convicted of lewd or lascivious exhibition he could be looking at 15 years in prison or probation and a $10,000. Additionally, a conviction under this statute would designate him a sex offender. So what can we learn from this? First, Deanna Carter is a bad ass. Second, the guy sitting next to the masturbator didn’t seem to mind or care what was going on. Third, this type of conduct can have serious repercussions ranging from incarceration to being designated a sex offender for life.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

The Criminal Side of Online Dating

Love. Soulmate. Companionship. At some point we all want to experience it. We search high and low for someone who we can call our own and when we find him or her, most of us try to hold on tight. With the increase of technology and different paths available to find love, such as online dating, meeting people has become considerably convenient. However, crime has also increased due to the convenience of “love” and technology. If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime associated with online dating, it is important for you to seek legal advice. Contact an experienced Florida criminal law attorney to help you with your case. Crimes and Online Dating: What You Should Know Though online dating has been around for a while, in recent years online dating has become a trend and although there have been some very successful relationships resulting from online dating, there has also been an increase in crime. For instance, recently in Florida, a woman who moved from Alabama to Florida to be with a man she met online vanished. This is not the first time nor the last time that online dating has led to a potential crime. In 2010 Carol Markin went on a date with a man she met online, and after he asked to use her bathroom, he raped her. Though online dating is a booming industry, it can also be a scary one. Online dating crimes in recent years have consisted of sexual offenses, money laundering, and extortion scams. Targeting women over 40, who are divorced or widowed, money laundering has become significantly easy for those who have joined dating sites. According to the AARP, the FBI says that Americans lost approximately $82 million to online dating fraud in only six months in the year of 2014, and that number is only for those who chose to report the problem. Because online dating crimes have increased and most dating sites do not make their users submit background checks, Florida has proposed bills that would require a dating service to notify their consumers on whether or not they have conducted background checks. Need Legal Advice? Being charged with any crime can be overwhelming, however, this is definitely the case when the crime is considered to be a crime associated to online dating. If convicted, you can face imprisonment, fines, registering as a sex offender, as well as probation and community service. Because of this, it is invaluable to seek legal advice. If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime associated with online dating, contact Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law  at (407) 377-0150  to help you strategize about the best possible outcomes for your case. Contact our office today for a free consultation.  

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

Crimes that Result in Deportation

For many, the United States is a country that represents freedom and opportunity. This is especially so for those who are from developing countries trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Though your intentions may be good, in Florida, you can potentially get involved in situations that are considered crimes. Though these crimes vary, when you are an immigrant and commit certain crimes, you have more to lose than those born in the United States. For those unfortunate instances, it is important to seek legal advice. If you or a loved one face potential deportation due to a crime, it is invaluable to contact an experienced Florida criminal law attorney to help you with your case. What Crimes Can Lead to Deportation? The truth of the matter is, all immigrants, including those who have been issued green cards, can be deported if they are found to have violated the laws of the United States. It is unfortunate, but when you commit a crime as an immigrant your punishment may be harsher than when a citizen of the United States commits a crime. Even for misdemeanor charges or instances when you do not have to serve jail time, you could face deportation if you are convicted of a crime. In the case of drugs, you can be deported for almost any form of drug conviction under federal law.   Crimes that can result in deportation include: Aggravated felonies; Firearms conviction; Crimes of domestic violence; Crimes of moral turpitude. Though firearm convictions and domestic violence convictions are more straightforward, aggravated felonies and crimes of moral turpitude are not. According to 8 U.S.C. Section 1101(a)(43), aggravated felonies are the most serious crimes in immigration law and include, but are not limited to: Murder, Drug trafficking, Money laundering over $10,000; Crimes of violence where the sentence is at least one year imprisonment; Rape or sexual abuse. Crimes pertaining to moral turpitude include, but are not limited to: Fraud; Larceny; and Intent to harm persons or property. Lastly, it is important to note that a formal guilty verdict is not the only disposition that may result in deportation, you can also plea nolo contender and receive some form of punishment such as probation or house arrest, as well as deferred adjudication that can lead to deportation. Need Legal Advice? When you have committed a crime, you face several consequences that can result in fines, imprisonment, probation, as well as suspension of licenses. However, when you are an immigrant and commit a crime, the consequences are a lot stricter and oftentimes can lead to you being deported. Though you may feel like there are no other options, seeking legal advice and representation can change your view. If you or a loved one face potential deportation due to the committing of a crime, contact Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law at (407) 377-0150 for a free consultation. As former prosecutors, we will not miss details when defending you. Contact our office today!  

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sex Crimes

Jury Acquits Cop Accused of Rape

A jury has decided to acquit a Boynton Beach cop who allegedly threatened to kill a woman’s family if she did not perform a sexual act. Had the policeman been convicted of the sex crime, he would have faced up to life in prison. Throughout the proceedings the policeman insisted that he was innocent because the sex on the hood of his cruiser was consensual. When the sex was over the woman alleged that the cop was holding a handgun and threatened her and her family’s life if she said anything about the assault. The jury felt that the prosecution failed to prove the policeman’s guilt, thus he has been freed and can try to regain another police officer position. What Does it Mean to Give Consent? The defense in this case insisted the defendant was innocent because the woman provided consent. In Florida, for a person to give consent, he or she must not be forced into submission. If an alleged victim does not or cannot offer physical resistance against the alleged offender, this does not mean the victim provided consent. The jury in this case found that there was enough evidence to suggest the woman provided the policeman with consent. Evidence Used in a Sex Crime In this case, the police reviewed the radio communications between the policeman and precinct as well as a used condom that was found in a field. The defense used a photo of the woman posing in a risqué manner on a police cruiser to suggest that she had always had a fantasy of having sex on a cop car. As in most criminal cases, evidence plays a major role when a jury determines whether a person is guilty or innocent. The rules of evidence that address a sexual battery allows for the testimony of the victim to not have to be corroborated by the prosecution. In addition, Florida tries to prevent prior sexual activity to be allowed as evidence unless certain situations are met. One example is when evidence of other sexual intercourse was used to show that the defendant was not the source of the harm (i.e. Pregnancy or disease). In this case, the risqué photo was admitted because it did not relate to the victim’s past sexual history, but instead to what the defense argued was a fantasy. The defense attorneys argued that the young woman craved sex on the patrol car “perhaps to be cool”.  Clearly, the defense attorneys had effectively discredited the young women enough to raise doubt in the minds of the jurors. In cases where there is a question of a victim’s consent, any evidence that relates to a victim’s mental defect or incapacity is admissible to demonstrate that the victim did not knowingly consent to the act. Pending Rape Charges If you have recently been charged with a sex crime, you need an attorney who has experience working on sex crimes cases. Our lawyers at Moses & Rooth have worked on other Florida sex crimes cases. They will listen to your side of the story and vigorously work to obtain the necessary evidence needed to prepare a strong defense. Contact our firm at 407-377-0150 for your initial consultation.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sex Crimes

Can a Florida resident be removed from the sex offender’s list?

Florida laws regarding sex offenders and predators is very strict. Every citizen residing in the state of Florida who is convicted of a sexual offense, as defined in the Florida statutes, must register as a sex offender with the local sheriff’s office in the county of their residence. The information is then made public record. Offenders who move are required to update their driver’s license or identification card within 48 hours. The offenders also have to maintain that registration throughout the remainder of their life. In addition, two to four times a year (depending on the offense), they must update their registration as a sex offender. Temporary residents in the state of Florida, such as workers who stay for periods of time, must also register. Can a sex offender ever be liberated from this list? A registered sexual offender can petition the court to be deleted from the list, but only if they meet the following criteria: Have been pardoned from the original offense. Have received post-conviction relief; in other words, a judge has decided it was unconstitutional in your case. Have been released from all confinement or supervision for a period of at least 25 years, with no additional arrests for misdemeanor or felony offenses. Note that this option is not available to all registered sex offenders, but is dependent on the type of original defense. See Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators for more information on these offenses. What is the “Romeo & Juliet” law? Florida Statute 943.04354, called the Romeo and Juliet act, may provide relief from the registered sex offenders list requirement if certain criteria is met. If an offender’s victim is between the ages of 14 and 17, which is within four years of the offender’s age, and the victim claims to have been consensual in the sex act, the offender may petition the court for relief. The offender also must have no other records that require registering. It is very challenging to be removed from the registered sex offenders list, which is public across the nation, and updated dynamically when a name is added. For those charged with sex crimes, it is important to defend your charges to the fullest extent upfront. The consequences of a conviction is, more often than not, for the rest of your life. Source: FDLE Florida Sex Offenders and Predators, “Sex Offenders and Predators,” Aug. 28, 2014

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