sexual assault

HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF “HEBEPHILIA”?

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 has three problematic features. First, it created the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”) which expanded the National Sex Offender Registry and established sanctions up to a maximum of 20 years for sex offenders who do not comply with the law’s registration requirements (here and here). Second, it placed severe restrictions on the constitutional right to bail and prohibitions against disparate sentencing (here). Finally, it allows for the civil commitment of federal sex offenders upon completion of their criminal sentence if it shown that they are “sexually dangerous” and pose a threat to the free community (here).

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“ADAM WALSHED”: A DANGEROUS AND COSTLY RESPONSE TO SEXUAL PREDATION

Former President George W. Bush in July 2006 signed into law the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (“Walsh Act”). A disturbing byproduct of the Walsh Act is the authorization given to the federal government to indefinitely detain any sex offender after completion of his prison sentence, if a Department of Justice attorney certifies and establishes by clear and convincing evidence that he is a “sexually dangerous person” who poses a threat to the safety of the free community. If the offender is certified for what is called “civil commitment,” chances are he will be sent to the Commitment and Treatment Program at the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, North Carolina.

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THE DIFFICULTY WITH CRIMINAL EVIDENCE

Rule 403: Courts Should View Child Porn if Defense Moves to Exclude as Unfairly Prejudicial…

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair

Jurors in criminal trial are sometimes called upon to view difficult, disturbing pieces of evidence. This is particularly so in cases of violence and sex offenses, especially child pornography cases. In fact, it is probably easier for jurors to view photographs and/or videos depicting images of the aftermath of a violent offense than it is to view photographs and/or videos of child pornography. Many times, when the question of whether the images are in fact child pornography is not in issue, the Government and criminal defense attorney will stipulate to the jury that evidence is in fact child pornography. In those cases where neither party wants to proceed on the basis of a stipulation, the Government must allow the defense to inspect the evidence it plans to offer into evidence so the defense lawyer can prepare a proper defense. This process provides defense counsel with graphic details of the child pornography the Government will rely upon to make its case. These details often inform defense counsel of the level of prejudice the images/videos of children being sexually exposed and/or assaulted will have on the jury.

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THE PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM INTERNET PORNOGRAPHERS ACT OF 2011

Congress Uses Fear of Child Pornography to Justify Orwellian Surveillance of Private Internet Usage

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair

Let us be clear at the outset. We love our children as much as anyone. And we believe that they should be protected from sexual predation: either physical sexual abuse or child pornography. But we have become increasingly concerned about a proliferation child protection laws, particularly at the Federal level. Some of which were obviously politically motivated “feel good” legislation intended to broadcast to the voters that congress was getting something done.

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HARDY V. CROSS: CONFRONTATION CLAUSE QUAGMIRED IN LEGAL UNCERTAINTY

Confusing Logic from SCOTUS and Conflict Among Appellate Courts Leave Trial Courts Guessing The Meaning Of Confrontation

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair

The Sixth Amendment is one of the most important amendments of the United States Constitution. It ensures that an “accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with witnesses against him.” In 1988 the U.S. Supreme Court, in Coy v. Iowa, observed that “it is always more difficult to tell a lie about a person ‘to his face’ than ‘behind his back.’” Just two years later, in Maryland v. Craig, the Court made this follow up observation: “[F]ace-to-face confrontation enhances the accuracy of fact-finding by reducing the risk that a witness will wrongfully implicate an innocent person.” That observation is critically important because, as pointed out by the New York-based The Innocent Project, roughly 75 percent of the nation’s 282 DNA exonerations involved eyewitness misidentification.

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ROMEO AND JULIET, MEET ADAM WALSH

Texas law Allows Removal/Avoidance of Sex Registration for Youthful, Non-Violent Consent Based Sex

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair

Former President George W. Bush in July 2006 signed into law the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. Title I of this act is called the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”) which expanded the National Sex Offender Registry, including sanctions up to a maximum of twenty years for sex offenders who do not comply with the law’s registration requirements. This includes juveniles convicted, or adjudicated as delinquent in juvenile court, who are 14 years of age or older and who have been convicted of an offense either more serious or similar to federal aggravated sexual assault. It is this juvenile registration issue that has caused many states, including Texas, to have serious reservations about complying with SORNA.

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TEXAS RAPE-SHIELD-RIGHT TO PRIVACY VS THE SIXTH AMENDMENTS CONFRONTATION CLAUSE

TRE 412 Permits Use of Past Sexual Behavior in Limited Circumstances

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair

Every state in these United States have what is known as “rape shield statutes”—laws that limit a criminal defendant’s ability to cross examine sexual assault victims about their past sexual behavior. Texas’ rape shield statute lies in Rule 412 of the Texas Rules of Evidence and explicitly applies only in sexual assault cases. The, however, Rule is qualified to permit the use of “past sexual behavior” in certain situations: when it is necessary to rebut or explain scientific or medical evidence offered by the State, Subsection(b)(2)(A): when it is offered by the defendant upon the issue of whether the victim consented to the sexual behavior which is the basis for the charged offense, Subsection (b)(2)(B); and when it is relevant to show “motive or bias” on the part of the victim, Subsection (b)(2)(C).

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UNTESTED RAPE KIT CASES AN ONGOING PROBLEM

Delay in Testing Delays Justice for Victims and Wrongly Accused

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair

In a June 4, 2011 article titled “Justice Delayed in Rape Cases,” Houston Chronicle staff writer Anita Hassan reported that five years ago the Houston Police Department crime lab had more than 4,000 “rape kits” sitting untested in its “property room freezer.” Some of these cases date back to the 1990s, according to Hassan, and more of them are still sitting idle in neglect waiting to be tested. The crime lab has only tested “200 cases” over the last five years, citing “a lack of manpower” in getting the job done.

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Aggravated Assault NOT Lesser Included of Aggravated Sexual Assault

Defense Lawyers Sound Objection to Lesser Included Offense Causes Appellate Mental Madness

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Billy Sinclair

The law is rarely ever clearly defined. It is continuously subject to interpretation.
The law is such a fluid creature that finding its true meaning is sometimes very difficult and can strain the bounds of intellectual honesty. This was illustrated on October 20, 2010 by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in the case of Oscar Rene Benavidez.

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CONSENSUAL SEX WITH A MINOR-RAPE AND MASS HYSTERIA

Schocking Allegations Of Sexual Assault In Cleveland, Texas

By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair

Allegations of mass rape have literally ripped apart the social fabric of Cleveland, Texas, a Liberty County community of 7000-plus people just 45 miles north of Houston. The town has never been known as a bastion of racial harmony, but the sexual assault of an 11-year-old Hispanic girl there last Thanksgiving by as many as two dozen suspects—most of whom African-American—has splintered the town’s racial coexistence, which according to some was already as tattered as the neglected American flag flying above so many double-wide trailers in small Texas towns like Cleveland.

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