What happens in court in a Child Sex Case?
Usually, immediately prior to the jury trial in a lewd/child sexual battery case, there are last minute Motions in Limine filed by both the defense lawyer and the prosecution regarding legal issues in the case. These can be regarding rules of evidence, jury selection, or relevancy.
The clerk of court will select the jurors from the jury pool to assign to a criminal defendant’s case. These jurors will be seated so that they can be questioned regarding their views on the case and criminal charge filed against the defendant. As you may expect, when the jury panel is told that the trial will involve allegations of sexual abuse against a child, the majority of jurors will cringe, gasp, or indicate that they are not comfortable to sit on such a serious criminal case. As a criminal defense attorney, I have to find impartial jurors to sit on the case. Through questioning of the jurors, I have to determine which jurors can be impartial and give the person arrested a fair trial. It takes experience selecting jurors and knowing what questions to ask and how to ask the questions in order to determine which prospective jurors will give an accused person a fair jury trial.
If a juror can not be impartial due to their views, background, or personal experience, they can be challenged for cause. For example, if it was a DUI trial and the juror had lost a family member due to a drunken driver, the juror may state under oath and on the record that they would not be able to put that experience out of their mind and consider it when rendering their verdict. I can then challenge that juror “for cause” because the juror is not capable of being fair and impartial. That juror would then be excluded from the panel hearing the DUI trial. There are many reasons to strike a juror “for cause” and as an experienced criminal trial lawyer I can work to get the best jury panel in your case to render a fair and just verdict.
There are also peremptory challenges for jurors. These challenges allow me to strike a juror if they have an unfavorable bias or prejudice to insure you have a good jury giving an accused person a fair trial. if it is a capital sexual battery case or any crime where the defendant is facing imprisonment for life, the defense and prosecution are each allowed 10 peremptory challenges. If it is any other felony case, each side is allowed 6 peremptory challenges. There are only 3 allowed in misdemeanor cases.
After the jury is selected and sworn, the prosecution (state attorney) and the defense attorney each get to make an opening statement. The opening statement allows each lawyer to explain to the jury what evidence the lawyers believe will be presented during the trial.
The prosecution will then begin to present their case to the jury. This is done through the calling of witnesses and having them testify before the jury. The attorney for the state may also enter physical evidence in the case such as the Child Protection team (CPT) video (child hearsay). This video of the child being interviewed by the forensic interviewer at CPT, will be played for the jury. It could also be photographs being entered into evidence and presented to the jury, such as child pornography. After the prosecuting attorney is done questioning the witness, the defense attorney then can cross-examine the witness. This is why it is important to have an experienced criminal trial lawyer such as myself representing you at your trial. There are many techniques for cross-examination, rules of evidence that must be considered, future arguments that will be made in the case that determine how to cross a witness. Even though there is a tremendous amount of preparation done prior to trying a case, there are still a tremendous amount of decisions made during the trial at a mo9ment’s notice based upon a witness’ answer, demeanor, tone, or change in testimony. You need an experienced trial attorney who can take advantage of these opportunities so that the verdict is NOT GUILTY!
After the prosecution has presented their evidence, the defense attorney argues for a Judgment of Acquittal requesting that the charges be dropped due to the prosecutor not having presented sufficient evidence to the jury to prove the charge against the citizen accused of the crime. If the motion is denied, the defense can then put on a case before the jury and offer witnesses and evidence of its own. The Defendant himself may also testify, but is not required to testify. Neither the judge or the prosecutor can force the defendant to take the stand and testify. After the defense has put on its case, the defense renews its Motion for Judgment of Acquittal. If the motions is denied, the State Attorney may put on rebuttal evidence or the case proceeds to closing aguments.
You want an experienced criminal lawyer that can persuade a jury to see the case favorable to you. A lawyer that can convince the jury that your version of events is the correct version. An attorney who can make a jury understand what the case is about, what the facts are, and how the law applies to the facts of your criminal case. A criminal defense attorney that can explain to the jury why the prosecution did not prove the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt and that the jury should render a verdict of NOT GUILTY in your case!
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The penalties for child pornography include a jail sentence of up to five years, five (5) years of probation, and a $5,000 fine. Possession of Child Pornography is assigned a Level 5 offense severity ranking under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code.
Authorities investigate child pornography cases by employing various strategies. They can obtain useful information from the internet service provider that provides service to the suspicious activity’s IP address. If they have a warrant, they can search evidence at your house. If they don’t, they can interview people.
Yes, people who possess child pornography have to register as sex offenders. Take note that it is both a federal and state crime to knowingly fail to register or update a sex offender listing as required by law.