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Facing the Court of Public Opinion as a Sexual Assault Defendant

Florida State Football Coach Jimbo Fisher is reminding the world that, in America, you are innocent until proven guilty. His words came in support of his star quarterback Jameis Winston, who is currently facing allegations of sexual assault, stemming back from December 2012. Fisher recently spoke with the press about the ongoing investigation, which is reportedly sparking some controversy. He assured fans that Winston will continue to play on the team until all university and criminal investigations conclude.

Reports quote Fisher as stating, “This country is based off being innocent until proven guilty, not guilty till you’re proven innocent. There is no victim because there was no crime. We’re convicting a guy over things that are not true, based on evidence.” He also added, “Public opinion wants to do what they do. They don’t get what they want. … We believe in him, 100 percent.”

The controversy surrounding the reigning Heisman Trophy winner echoes a common problem for many sexual assault defendants. The court of public opinion is harsh and quick, rarely waiting for a verdict from the criminal justice system. As a result, sexual assault defendants may deal with job loss, family problems and social condemnation. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can work to clear your name by mounting a swift and effective defense.

Sexual Assault Laws in Florida

There are numerous types of sexual assault laws within the state of Florida. Criminal classifications can range in seriousness from misdemeanors to capital felonies, depending on the specific details of the incident.

Sexual Battery – Under Florida criminal law, rape is referred to as a sexual battery. It generally occurs when a victim is compelled to have sexual intercourse against his or her will. If the victim is under the age of 12, the offense is categorized as a capital felony, with a sentence of life imprisonment, without parole, or the death penalty.

For victims older than 12, the offense is classified as felony in the first or second degree, depending on the details of the crime and the age of the offender. Penalties may range from a fine to a maximum of 40 years imprisonment. Convicted offenders may also be subject to mandatory, lifelong registration as a sex offender.

Sexual Misconduct – Sexual misconduct is used in the Florida statute to classify a wide range of sexually inappropriate behaviors, including:

  • Unwanted advances in the workplace, amounting to harassment;
  • Obscene notes or emails sent to an unwilling recipient;
  • Physical touching, amounting to an sexual assault; and
  • Disparaging statements about sexual orientation or gender.

Charges can reach a classification of second degree felony, with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. A conviction may also result in lifelong registration as a sex offender.

If you or a loved one is facing sexual assault charges, Attorneys Mycki Ratzan and Jude Faccidomo can provide you with an aggressive and comprehensive defense. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC in Miami today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation.

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