A man was recently arrested in Fort Lauderdale for two, first-degree felony counts of lewd or lascivious molestation of a victim under the age of 12.
Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers have learned that those charges have since been dropped, after the 9-year-old accuser told a state prosecutor that she didn’t remember making the allegation.
Of course, these are very serious felony charges and as such, you can’t always count on a young accuser to come forward with a revelation admitting that they are lying or that they their words were skewed.
Children in these cases are under a great deal of pressure because in many cases, physical evidence may be lacking so the strongest piece of evidence the state has is the child’s testimony. The entire case may hinge upon it. That’s an enormous amount of pressure to stand up to as a young person, even when you know that the initial allegation has been spun out of control.
For this reason, many of those who falsely accuse or exaggerate don’t come forward with the full truth until many years later, if at all.
This is why it is critical to formulate a strong criminal defense early on in the process – at the first inclination you may have of an allegation, even if that is prior to an arrest.
Florida Statute 800.04 describes lewd or lascivious molestation as when a person intentionally touches in a lewd manner the private areas (clothing-covered or not) of a person who is under the age of 15 or forces or entices the youth to touch the older offender. If the suspect is over the age of 18 and the accuser is under the age of 12, the crime becomes a life felony.
As this case revealed, the involvement of young children can be especially troublesome when the consequences are so incredibly serious. In this situation, the girl reportedly told an investigator that the defendant had touched her “cookie jar,” which is reportedly a word used by the child to describe her genitalia. But a few weeks later, the charges were dropped when the girl told a prosecutor she didn’t remember saying that.
The prosecutor indicated that absent any physical evidence, it all came down to the testimony of the accuser, and the admission that she had no recollection of the allegation made the case virtually impossible to prosecute.
Many other defendants aren’t so lucky.
Another Fort Lauderdale man was recently arrested those exact same charges, only this time relating to a 10-year-old girl for whom he babysits. The child alleges the defendant has sexually abused her from the time she was 6 years-old.
It’s not clear at this point whether there is physical evidence in this case, but it does not appear as if the girl is backing down from her sworn statements.
Every case is going to be different, but there are a number of defense strategies that our attorneys can employ. Theoretically, it is the prosecutor’s job to prove you guilty. However, there is often so much emotion tied to these cases that even otherwise non-biased jurors and judges will view sex abuse defendants through an unfair lens of guilt. No one wants to believe that a child would lie about, exaggerate or misinterpret such a thing. But it does happen. That’s why are committed to showing the court why you should not be convicted of such serious charges.
If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.
Child molestation charges dropped against Fort Lauderdale man, May 30, 2013, By Tonya Alanez, Sun Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
Rash of Recent South Florida Child Abuse Arrests, Police Report, May 20, 2013, Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog