Source URL: http://bit.ly/1jnn1Ia
Sex crime accusations in Fort Lauderdale, Florida can have crippling effects on the accused, even if they serve time or are exonerated of their charge. This is the reason it is so important to appoint a Fort Lauderdale sex crimes attorney the instant a charge is incurred. Delay could equate to a wrongful arrest, a wrongful prison sentence, homelessness, 24-7 surveillance, even death.
In the case of Fort Lauderdale resident Frank Lee Smith, death was inevitable. He spent several years battling cancer while on death row, but his struggle was far deeper than any disease or prison sentence could ever be. Smith was in prison for a heinous crime, a crime that involved the brutal rape and murder of an eight year old girl. Smith pleaded with the jury in his 1985 trial, tears flowing from the stand, yet his efforts were to no avail. He was convicted of a rape that DNA evidence would later prove he didn’t commit. What’s worse is the fact that he passed away too soon to receive the news. He died believing the whole world thought he was a rapist. His attorneys seemed the only individuals convinced of his innocence. They spent 15 years attempting to prove he didn’t commit the crime.
The two Broward County detectives accused of framing Smith received little more than a slap on the wrist for their behavior. While it has now been proven that not one but three men were falsely convicted during that time in South Florida, law enforcement claims there is insufficient evidence to prove that either of the detectives intentionally lied in these instances. Officials have chalked it up to the fact that the 80’s and 90’s was a time when scientific evidence gathering materials were less advanced and thus the innocent were robbed of their freedoms. The problem with this statement is that there will, no doubt, be a time when this era’s scientific evidence gathering materials are considered less advanced and the wrongly accused might have more at stake than just their lives.
Death, Homelessness, Isolation: The Future for Convicted Sex Offenders
Florida sex offenders are required to register their names into a public system of surveillance where all residency and activity is monitored on a 24-7 basis. In 2005, following a horrific incident that claimed the life of a nine year old girl, Florida took this law one step further by restricting sex offenders to residency in a few select sections of the state. Unfortunately, this attempt to condense the sex offenders into specific locations put those who allotted the convicts a place to stay under surveillance as well. Fort Lauderdale’s Budget Inn was recently criticized for housing a vast population of convicted sex offenders. If businesses believe they will receive negative press as a result of granting these types of convicts room and board, odds are they will become less likely to do so in the future.
The isolation a convicted sex offender must face upon their release is incomparable to the suffering of other types of convicted criminals and many are already resorting to taking their own lives. In 2013, a 49 year old convicted sex offender by the name of Bobby Wooster committed suicide after receiving a police warning based on an anonymous tip. It is notable to mention that Bobby Wooster was convicted of a sex crime in 1989, at a time when evidence gathering techniques were considered much less sophisticated. Even so, Bobby was still required to register his sex offender status after being released from jail. While sexual assault is a heinous and brutal act, the residents of Florida should bear in mind the fact that there will always be at least one Frank Lee Smith around; an innocent man paying the price for somebody else’s crime. If this innocent man lives to see his release, what is the difference between a life of public humiliation and isolation and a death behind the bars of a prison cell?
About the Author:
Michael D. Leader is a criminal lawyer with Fort Lauderdale law firm Leader & Leader P.A. specializing in all forms of criminal law, Leader and partner George Leader offer years of legal experience and commitment to ethics.