Kaitlyn Hunt, a Florida teen who was accused of unlawfully having sex with a minor has been offered a new plea deal that would spare her jail time and registration as a sex offender but adds a felony count to her charges. Hunt was arrested for two counts of lewd and lascivious sexual battery against a female minor when she was 18 after having sexual intercourse with her then 14-year-old and thus underage girlfriend she met at Sebastian River High School in 2012. Though Hunt has argued the sex was consensual, Florida law considers it a felony offense to have sex with a person under the age of 16 who is considered not legally able to offer consent.
Under the new plea deal, Hunt would plead no contest to two counts of battery and one felony count of interference with child custody. Under this plea, Hunt would not only escape jail time, but would not have to register as a sex offender or wear an ankle bracelet. In exchange, the now 19-year-old would be subject to a curfew, have to perform 150 hours of community service and serve probation.
A plea bargain or plea deal is an agreement in criminal cases between the prosecutor and the accused whereby the accused in return for admitting guilt of a criminal charge, in return for some reduction in punishment from the prosecutor, either in the form of a lighter punishment for the original charge, or a less serious charge with lighter consequences than what was originally charged. In this case, however, the detriment of taking a plea bargain is much worse psychologically for Hunt than standing her ground in trial for her beliefs.
Often, the accused will choose a plea deal in order to receive a less severe sentence
because of hedging the amount of time served for the crime, rather than betting their freedom on a gamble, the risk they take if they were to go to trial and be convicted.
In this case, the State has offered Hunt a plea of no contest to a felony charge of interfering with child custody. A charge of interfering with child custody, a felony charge, is a very serious charge to bring against someone, particularly of Hunt’s young age, as this particular charge cannot be expunged under Florida statute.
Florida’s juveniles want to do what they want to do and sometimes will be charged with sexual battery charges because of them are registered in the system and have records as sex offenders. This can be damaging to many of Jacksonville’s youth in finding careers, particularly for those juveniles whose charges were pursued by a disapproving society who did not like the decisions that the youth made, because they were contrary to their own notions and ideologies, rather than that juvenile actually being guilty of any crime. In this case, it seems now that Hunt will want to reject any plea from the State, in order to prove the point that the State cannot silence certain ideological communities.
As this case, and many others like it show, plea bargaining is an effective but not always best option for the accused in a criminal suit. Some crimes may be too serious, and therefore require a trial. Others are clear cut cases of police misconduct or cases of tampered evidence that can and should be suppressed. However, many State attorneys will attempt to rush a plea agreement before the truth of one’s innocence or the invalidity of the evidence comes to light.
One in a situation such as this should obtain an experienced Jacksonville sex crimes defense attorney to fight for one’s case and ensure one’s rights, defenses, and options are known and protected. One cannot fight this battle alone. With the help of an experienced attorney, one can be sure that this mistake will be whited out of one’s life and become a thing of the past.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Source: Florida teen offered new plea deal over same-sex relationship with underage girlfriend, Nina Golgowski, New York Daily News