Florida Bill Seeks to Allow Recordings in Sexual Abuse Cases

On December 19, Florida State Representative Jared Moskowitz filed proposal HB 131, seeking to allow secretly recorded conversations to be used as evidence in sexual abuse cases where a child under the age of 16 is involved. This was done in reaction to a Florida law that determined all parties being recorded must be aware of the recording device or the evidence provided is inaccessible in court.

Representative Moskowitz Proposes Change to Recording Law

Representative Moskowitz developed this proposal following a recent Florida Supreme Court decision that determined that a man convicted of sexually abusing his stepdaughter was entitled to a new trial. The Supreme Court ruled that the recordings made by the man’s stepdaughter should not have been allowed in his trial to begin with. This decision overturned five convictions, including sexual battery of a child younger than 12.

Under Florida law, recordings must only be obtained if all parties agree to their usage, but if all parties do not agree, the evidence cannot be used in court. The overturned case involved the stepdaughter using a MP3 to record conversations with the man, becoming key evidence in the case and resulting in the accused receiving a life sentence in prison. Moskowitz seeks to advance this proposal since sexual assault victims, especially children, may not be equipped to ask their alleged abuser for permission.

Thus far, Moskowitz’s proposal has drawn support from others. They believe that technology changes have allowed children to navigate these scenarios differently, and the law should adapt to fit these changes. For example, many children have cellphones that can also record conversations. These recorded conversations can make a difference in the outcome of a criminal case, and provide a tool for those who have been assaulted to bring their abusers to justice.

While this proposal may work to empower children in some cases, it also unleashes a dangerous precedent. What if a child, mad at their parent for a punishment, contrives or manipulates an unknowingly-recorded conversation? Sexual assault cases are serious, and someone accused of such a crime needs an aggressive criminal defense attorney to defend their case.

If you been accused of sexual assault in West Palm Beach, contact Herman Law, P.A. for a free case review.