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Miami Criminal Defense Attorney / Blog / Criminal Defense / How Florida’s “Rape Shield” Law Can Affect Your Right to Defend Yourself

How Florida’s “Rape Shield” Law Can Affect Your Right to Defend Yourself


Sex crimes cases are, by their very nature, an emotionally charged affair for everyone involved. And in the state’s zeal to try accused rapists or sexual batterers, there is often a tendency to take shortcuts with a defendant’s constitutional rights. This includes the right to confront their accusers through cross-examination in court.

You may have heard of Florida’s “Rape Shield” law. This is a statutory rule adopted by the Florida legislature and applied to cases where a person is tried for sexual battery (rape). The Rape Shield Law essentially provides:

  • The accuser’s testimony does not have to be corroborated by another witness to secure a conviction.
  • absent certain exceptions, the defense cannot introduce evidence regarding the accuser’s prior history of consensual sexual activity with persons other than the defendant;
  • the defense cannot introduce “reputation evidence” regarding the accuser’s past sexual conduct; and
  • the defense cannot use evidence of how the victim dressed as proof of consent to sexual conduct;
  • if the defense argues that the sexual conduct was consensual, the state may introduce evidence of the accuser’s “mental incapacity or defect” to show they were incapable of giving consent; and
  • the defense cannot cite evidence that they used contraception during the alleged rape to prove the sexual conduct was consensual.

Defendant Granted New Trial Following Improper Exclusion of Evidence

While the Rape Shield law generally forbids the defense from cross-examining an accuser about their own history of prior consensual sex, it does not necessarily stop a defendant from questioning an accuser about a history of making false allegations of non-consensual sexual conduct. The Florida Second District Court of Appeal recently addressed such a case. In Lydecker v. State, the appellate court reversed a sexual battery conviction based on the trial court’s refusal to permit such cross-examination.

This case involved two siblings, both minors, who accused the defendant of rape. One of the accusers, identified in court records as “G.G.,” told a child protective services worker that she had also been sexually abused by two other individuals. The defendant wanted the jury to hear these other accusations, as he believed it showed G.G. had a propensity to fabricate false rape allegations. The trial judge excluded the evidence, however, under the Rape Shield law.

But as the Second District observed, such evidence was admissible under Florida law. The defendant was not trying to introduce evidence of G.G.’s history of consensual sex with other people. Rather, he wanted to show the accuser had a bias against him and his family, which directly spoke to the accuser’s credibility. As a result, the Court of Appeal said the defendant was entitled to a new trial.

Contact Asilia Law Firm Today

When you are facing rape or similar charges, you must be prepared to assert your rights in court. Your first step should be to hire an experienced Miami criminal defense attorney. Contact Asilia Law Firm today to schedule an initial consultation.




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