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Wilson v. State

Citation. 288 So. 2d 480,1974 Fla.
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Synopsis of Rule of Law.

A rape statute that designated females as the only potential victim cannot be used to convict a Defendant who has committed sodomy with another man.


Appellants were charged with sodomy in violation of Florida statute. The incident occurred in Raiford Prison and the Appellants and Victim were prison inmates. Victim was threatened at knifepoint after an initial beating and forced to submit to sexual copulation (anal sex). Appellants were found guilty by a jury. In the interim between the adjudication of guilt and the subsequent appeal, the same court ruled in Franklin v. State that the statute in question was unconstitutionally vague and uncertain. The District Court then reversed Appellants’ convictions but remanded the case for further proceedings under a different statute dealing with rape and forcible carnal knowledge. However, the statute dealing with rape and forcible carnal knowledge specifically addressed such crimes against a female only. Accordingly, Appellants appealed.


Should Florida’s rape statute, which designates only females as potential victims, be judicially interpreted to include male victims also?


No, the decision of the District Court is reversed and remanded.
Although a companion statute had changed the word “female” to the word “person”, the statute in this case was not changed by the legislature. For the court to change the definition of “female” found in the statute in question to be the same as the more inclusive word “person” is to invade the province of the legislature.

The lack of a protective statute has affected the judicial conscience, as well it should, but the courts should not shoulder the burden and responsibility of the legislature.

The statute in question did not cover a rape of a male, but the radically new interpretation of it (by the lower court) punishes as criminal conduct that which was not criminal under existing statutes at the time of the incident, thus violating the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution and the Florida Constitution as being ex facto in its application.


Although a similar statute had changed the word “female” to “male” to protect the chastity of all unmarried persons, whether male or female, the statute that the defendants were now being charged under specifically addressed females as the only potential victim. The Court invaded the province of the legislature in trying to include men as potential victims under the statute in question. Furthermore, it was a violation of the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution as being ex post facto in its application for it punished an act as criminal when it was not criminal at the time the act was committed.

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