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Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.
If you or someone you know has been approached by a law enforcement officer who is investigating any type of sex offense, then the smartest thing to do is contact a lawyer immediately. When people find that they’re being investigated for any type of crime, they often want to tell their side of the story and explain that they did nothing wrong. The problem with this is very simple. When it comes to Florida criminal law and sex offense investigations, the truth does not matter. Let me clarify this because I’m certainly not encouraging people to lie to their lawyers or to investigating officers, especially not on the stand. Instead, it’s about recognition of the role and power of belief in shaping the truth.
For example, consider the most conservative fundamentalist Christian pastor you can possibly find. Next, gather an atheist activist and a very conservative Islamic cleric. Then, hook them up to the most advanced computerized polygraphy you can possibly find and ask a single question after swearing all of them under oath: what happens when you die? You’re going to get three completely different answers, and each one of them will be the truth based upon what that individual believes. Therefore, when it comes to a sexual battery or a lewd or lascivious prosecution, you have to remember that a law enforcement officer is going to find a probable cause based upon what they believe happened, not what actually happened.
A prosecutor reviewing a warrant request before an arrest warrant request is forwarded to a judge is going to do the same thing; they are going to look at the probable cause statement prepared by the officer and ask themselves indirectly if they believe that it represents the truth of what happened. When it gets approved by a prosecutor’s signature and forwarded to the duty judge for an arrest warrant, the duty judge is going to do the exact same thing as the other two. The duty judge is going to look at the probable cause statement and make a decision based upon what they believe is the truth. If someone manages to find out that they are under investigation for any type of sex offense, then it’s critically important for them to immediately contact the best certified criminal law specialist that they can find.
At some point, all of us have seen one of the several versions of the Godzilla movie, whether it was the old 1950’s black-and-white version or the more modern computer-generated version showing a giant animal as large as buildings causing mayhem in a major city like Tokyo. A legal case is a lot like Godzilla when you’re talking about a sex offense. These cases are extremely serious. Even when you are on the winning side, a great deal of damage occurs financially, emotionally and publicly to everyone involved. So, if you or someone you love is contacted by a law enforcement agent or otherwise finds out that there is a sexual battery investigation, the most important thing to do is to contact a criminal defense lawyer. This is because the best way to kill Godzilla is by catching Godzilla in the egg.
As a criminal defense lawyer in a sex offense case, intervening before a warrant request has been made can often allow you to get the warrant request killed. Not too long ago, a young military officer contacted me because he had a friend with benefits with whom he had rough sex on a regular basis. There was one incident where his partner received a bruise on her face during her consensual rough sex play. What he did not know was that this particular woman also had a long history of depressive-like illnesses. When questioned about the bruise by a family member, the complaining witness disclosed that it occurred during rough sex. The family member interpreted this as sexual violence, law enforcement was contacted, the military was notified and my client was investigated for a major sex offense for consensual sexual activity.
Fortunately, we were able to gather evidence in the form of witnesses who had observed the parties before and after their rough sex escapades, as well as other types of evidence in the form of Facebook private messages and text messages. We presented all of this information to the investigating officer, and as a result, no probable cause was found. This means there was no arrest warrant, my client was not taken into custody and he did not have to go forward with a dangerous jury trial risking decades in prison. So, if you or someone you love is contacted by law enforcement or otherwise think that there may be a pending sexual battery investigation, do not try to talk yourself out of the ride, meaning do not attempt to explain yourself to law enforcement officers.
Unfortunately, law enforcement officers are not professional statement makers; they are professional statement takers. A lawyer can coach you on what to do and what not to do. Have you ever heard of the controlled phone call? You probably have not. The controlled phone call is where a complaining witness signs over legal authority for law enforcement to record a phone call. Then, the complaining witness will often call the suspected defendant and try to get an admission. For example, the complainant will say, “I would be willing to let this go if you just apologize to me and tell me that you’ll never put another woman in this position again.” The individual on the other end of the phone who doesn’t know that he or she is being recorded will quite often say, “Oh gosh, I’m sorry if I did anything to make you feel uncomfortable. I’ll never do anything like that again.” Then, that recording is played during their trial.
There are many things that a person should do if they are a defendant in a sexual battery or lewd or lascivious case. There are just as many things that someone should not do if they are a defendant in one of these types of cases. Since you don’t know what you don’t know, it’s very important to learn what you don’t know so that you don’t make any mistakes and step on one of those highly explosive and life-damaging landmines in the minefield of Florida Criminal Law.
For more information on Promptly Hiring A Defense Attorney, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 466-1522 today.