Legal Help from a Port Saint Lucie Sexual Battery Attorney
A Capital Sexual Battery charge in Florida is just about as serious as things can get. Upon a conviction, there is only one (1) possible sentence, Life Imprisonment with a twenty-five (25) year minimum mandatory.
In August of 2021, the Port Saint Lucie Police Department arrested a young man for multiple counts of sexual battery against a five-year-old child. The child’s mother claimed her son was abused by the young man.
Here are some of the salient facts:
- The child was only visiting Florida, so much of the ‘investigation’ into mom’s allegations was conducted out-of-State.
- The Child himself did not make any report to law enforcement according.
- The child also did not allege any abuse despite numerous opportunities to do so during a Child Protective Team (CPT) videotaped interview.
- Immediately following CPT interview, a doctor who interviewed the child alone claimed that under questioning (which neither was recorded nor videotaped), and in which the doctor himself admitted to asking the child ‘leading’ and ‘direct’ questions, claimed the child made statements that he had in fact been molested.
- Based on the above, the State of Florida arrested Attorney McEnery’s young client.
DEFENSE AND TRIAL
The young man, now “the Defendant,” retained Stephanie McEnery, Esq. to defend him against the claims. Having handled these kinds of cases previously, Attorney McEnery immediately began assembling a team for the defense; the first being a skilled investigator.
The investigator, Neil Spector of Spector Investigations, former St. Luce-Sheriff’s-Detective turned-“P.I.”, quickly determined the child’s mother had seven (7) felony convictions!
The witnesses were located out of state, required McEnery to jump through numerous procedural ‘hoops,’[domesticating subpoenas, etc.,] in order to conduct depositions of the relevant witnesses. This delayed the case’s progress for nearly a full year.
Adding to the delay were the mother and child failing to appear for depositions which they’d been subpoenaed to attend.
Stephanie McEnery used the time wisely, adding a recognized expert in childhood trauma and child psychology adding to the defense team.
When the mother finally appeared for her rescheduled deposition, she lied about a multitude of events relating to her time living in Florida. When confronted with text messages proving precisely what she’d said and when she said them, she continued to lie about those statement, and even embellished and added to what she claimed were the child’s statements by describing even more heinous and reprehensible conduct that her child “told” her. These claims merely were fantasies and inventions by the child’s mother.
During the child’s deposition, he repeatedly claimed to McEnery that the abuse claimed by the mother had not in fact occurred.
Following the deposition, Ms. McEnery consulted with her client and the team she’d assembled about filing a “Demand for Speedy Trial.” In Florida a ‘Speedy Demand’ requires the Judge to bring the case to trial within less than eight (8) weeks, no matter where the case is on the trial ‘docket,’ and ahead of the hundreds, or possibly thousands of cases awaiting jury trials.
Filing a Speedy Demand, Ms. McEnery reasoned, would prevent the State from continuing to maintain and delay the case.
The Trial Judge set the case for trial approximately one (1) month after the demand was filed.
The tactical decision to file the Speedy Demand was critical. If the case continued to linger, the child’s mother would have additional time and opportunity to coach the child into making a false allegation. Given enough time coupled with the child growing older might make the child more susceptible to being coached to make up false allegations of abuse.
Filing a Demand for Speedy Trial can be a double-edged sword, as Attorney McEnery is well aware; Once filed, the Demand messages the Court the case is absolutely ready to be tried; that further discovery essentially is over, and that the Defendant is absolutely bound to proceed, whether or not the Defendant or his lawyer re-evaluate and determine to abandon the ‘fast trial’ demand.
Many colleagues expressed concern re demanding speedy trial in a Capital Sexual Battery case—but Attorney McEnery knew what was best for her client and what this case demanded, so she continued to prepare for the trial.
In an effort likely to further delay the case, the State disclosed new witnesses and additional evidence. McEnery stood firm and continued the trial preparations.
A last minute hurdle presented; the Defense team expert had to undergo surgery, and could no longer appear for trial. Attorney McEnery acted quickly to secure a new expert for trial and get the expert ‘up to speed’ on the case facts. Most importantly, McEnery continued to prep for trial.
The State flew in the child, the mother, the child protective team interviewer, the nurse, and law enforcement from out of state. The jury was selected and sworn. Attorney McEnery simultaneously was trying another case (in which she’d also filed a Demand for Speedy Trial) that same week. [Please see a description of that case here, which resulted in a jury finding her client NOT GUILTY, in this website].
While the jury in Ms. McEnery’s first trial was deliberating, the State interviewed the child AGAIN in anticipation of trial. It is unknown for how long and what types of questions the child was asked.
Yet again the child denied the claimed abuse.
On the morning scheduled for Opening Statements, the State of Florida arrived in Court and instead of beginning the case, they unceremoniously, and with no explanation, dropped the charges.
Attorney McEnery’s client went home, no longer facing mandatory life in prison and no longer on house arrest.
He once again could move on with his life.
Defending against a charge of Sexual Battery against a Child is one of the most, if not the most, serious and difficult criminal charges to defend. The public has a nearly visceral reaction to protect children, and often fails to question the credibility or validity of allegations.
Hiring a Port Saint Lucie Sexual Battery Attorney
It is vital to obtain an attorney as early in the process as possible. An experienced Port Saint Lucie criminal defense attorney can ensure that the right investigators and experts are brought on in order to identify the best defense strategy. This kind of hard work and dedication help us ensure the government is held to their burden of proof, and client’s lives are not indefinitely placed on hold.
Sometimes winning a case is about being able to make the correct and tough call after consulting with an attorney. In this case Attorney McEnery and her client made the difficult decisions and followed the carefully planned trial strategy.
If you are facing a similar legal situation contact Kirschner & McEnery Law Chartered at (772) 489-8501 to request a consultation.