What is Aggravated Sexual Battery

Aggravated sexual battery is a serious crime with harsh penalties. Florida statutes have strict guidance on what types of parameters constitute this type of crime and what those convicted can face if adjudicated guilty. 

There is often confusion around aggravated sexual battery and its differences from sexual battery and assault. It is especially important to understand the definitions, the differences, the penalties – and what to do if you are in a situation involving these serious criminal charges and their consequences.

What is aggravated sexual battery?

Definition of Aggravated Sexual Battery

Person in a towel holding down another person by the neck

Florida Statute 794.011 defines sexual battery as any oral, anal, or vaginal penetration with another person’s sex organ without consent. The statute includes the vaginal or anal penetration of another person by any other object without consent as sexual battery as well. 

Aggravated sexual battery is an elevated charge where the sexual battery is conducted under an aggravated circumstance. As with other types of crimes that are elevated, such as aggravated assault, certain parameters of the crime must be present in order to rise to this level. 

Aggravated circumstances can be any of the following:

  • The victim is physically helpless to resist.
  • The victim is physically incapacitated, such as being drugged or while sleeping.
  • The victim is coerced into submission by threats of violence or force that are likely to cause serious personal injury, and the victim reasonably believes the offender’s present ability to execute the threat.
  • The victim was taken advantage of due to a known mental defect.
  • The victim is coerced into submission by threats to retaliate against the victim or any other person (such as their family), and the victim reasonably believes that the offender has the capability to execute the threat in the future.
  • The offender is a person of authority or a person reasonably believed to be in a position of authority or control, such as a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, probation officer, teacher, parent, or step-parent.
  • The offender uses violence that led to (or could have led to) the victim suffering great bodily harm. 
  • The offender uses violence that causes a physical injury that is permanent or causes disfigurement.

The serious actions and circumstances of aggravated sexual battery result in severe penalties.

Penalties for Aggravated Sexual Battery

Under Florida law, there are significant legal ramifications of a charge or conviction of aggravated sexual battery. 

Multiple factors are considered and can affect the penalties associated with a case. This includes the age of the victim, the age of the offender, any previous criminal history, the relationship between the offender and the victim, and the underlying circumstances of the crime. 

Aggravated sexual battery when the victim is over 18 years old is a first-degree felony. Penalties include:

  • Up to 30 years in prison, or
  • Up to 30 years of probation, and
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

The sentence can include jail or prison followed by probation with a total length not exceeding 30 years.

Aggravated sexual battery when the victim is between 12 and 18 years old is considered a life felony. Penalties include:

  • Up to life in prison, or
  • Up to life of probation and
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

The sentence can include jail or prison, followed by probation for life.

In addition to prison, probation, and fines, there are additional penalties for a sexual battery/aggravated sexual battery conviction. 

If convicted, you must register as a sex offender with the state for the rest of your life. Depending on the circumstance, you may be able to petition the court to have your name removed from the registry after 25 years – unless you have been found to be a sexual predator under state law.

Florida Statute 775.21 states, “Repeat sexual offenders, sexual offenders who use physical violence, and sexual offenders who prey on children are sexual predators who present an extreme threat to the public safety.” The state does not allow sexual predators to petition for removal from the sex offender registry. 

Other long-term consequences can include difficulties finding a place to live and obtaining employment. There can also be restrictions on movement, including court-ordered avoidance of certain places and people. Immigration issues may also arise upon conviction. 

Sexual Battery vs Aggravated Sexual Battery: Key Differences

Lawyer explaining what is aggravated sexual battery

While both of these charges are serious, there are key distinctions between the two under Florida law. The severity of the offense, the circumstances surrounding the crime, and the penalties will be different. 

Sexual Battery vs Aggravated Sexual Battery 

Sexual battery, defined in Florida Statute 794.011 and also known as rape, is a second-degree felony. Penalties when the victim is over 18 include:

  • Up to 15 years in prison
  • 15 years of sex offender probation 
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

As compared to aggravated sexual battery, these maximum penalties are half the time in prison and half the probationary period. 

If there is no prior criminal history or other grounds, the minimum sentence a judge can order for a conviction of sexual battery in Florida is a minimum of 7 ¾ years in prison and then at least two years of sex offender probation after release.

However, there are different penalties depending on the ages of the offender and the victim. 

Sexual battery on a child under 12 by a person 18 or older is considered a capital felony – also known as capital sexual battery. This is a life felony. There is only one possible penalty for a conviction of capital sexual battery:

  • Life in prison without the possibility of parole

Sexual battery on a child under 12 by a person under 18 is a life felony. Penalties include:

  • Up to life in prison
  • Lifetime sex offender probation
  • $10,000 in fines

If there is no prior criminal history or other grounds, the minimum a judge could sentence for a person under 18 for sexual battery on a child under 12 is nine years in prison and then at least two years of sexual offender probation after release.

Additionally, sexual battery with a deadly weapon or sexual battery likely to cause physical injury has severe penalties equal to when the victim is under 12. Penalties include:

  • Up to life in prison
  • Lifetime sex offender probation
  • $10,000 in fines

Aggravated Sexual Battery vs Aggravated Sexual Assault

The legal terms sexual battery vs. sexual assault can be confusing to many people. Different states and jurisdictions may use the terms interchangeably, referring to the same types of crimes, causing misconceptions about what they mean and their corresponding penalties. 

As indicated within their terminology, aggravated sexual battery and aggravated sexual assault must have an aggravated circumstance, as listed above. 

In Florida, sexual assault is a legal term that covers multiple types of unwanted sexual contact. This can include:

  • Unwanted sexual touching or fondling
  • Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts – such as penetrating the offender’s body or oral sex
  • Attempted rape

Someone who attempts to commit sexual assault in Florida can still be charged with the crime – even if they are not successful in the completion of the unwanted sexual contact.

What To Do If Accused Of Aggravated Sexual Battery

Lawyer explaining what to do if accused of aggravated battery

As detailed above, someone who is convicted of aggravated sexual battery faces severe penalties. If you have been accused of this crime, it is crucial to seek out legal representation. 

An experienced attorney will review the facts and circumstances of the case to develop the right strategy for your defense. 

Here are some common defense strategies used in aggravated sexual battery cases:

  • Alibi — if you have a good alibi that can be confirmed, you may be able to get the charge dismissed. 
  • Mistaken Identity —  if you have been misidentified, it will be difficult for the prosecution to prove their case.
  • Civil Rights Violations  —  if law enforcement purposefully or accidentally violated your civil rights, a defense attorney may be able to get evidence suppressed.
  • Consent — if circumstances are present where the defense can argue that consent was given, this could work as a strategy. (the alleged victim must be of an age to give consent). 
  • Temporary or permanent insanity — if it is deemed to be appropriate to be examined by a court-approved mental health examiner, and they believe you meet the criteria for insanity, you cannot be held criminally responsible. Those accused of a crime must be aware that the actions were unlawful when the crime was committed. 

Each case has its own facts and circumstances and should be thoroughly evaluated to determine the best defense strategy.

Work With an Attorney

Aggravated sexual battery is a serious crime that has severe, long-term punishments upon conviction. It is highly recommended to work with an experienced attorney.

Seek professional legal help if you are involved or affected by a case of aggravated sexual battery. 

Dean G. Tsourakis is a criminal defense attorney in Clearwater, FL, with over 38 years of experience in criminal law. As both a State Prosecutor and a criminal defense lawyer, he’s tried hundreds of cases and will fight for your rights to get the best outcome in your case.

Contact the law office of Dean G. Tsourakis today to schedule a free consultation.