Alabama Criminal Appeals Court finds Criminal Statute Unconstitutional and Acquits Defendant

This is a criminal case from Dallas County, Alabama that involved one count of sodomy, State of Alabama v. Williams. The Defendant was very fortunate in this case because his lawyer did an excellent job on appeal presenting a good argument that the criminal statute was unconstitutional as applied to the facts of the case.

The Defendant was indicted for one count of sodomy in the first degree. The Defendant was convicted of a lesser included offense of sexual misconduct. He appealed and the Court of Criminal Appeals acquitted the Defendant.

The evidence indicated that the victim was working the night shift at the Jameson Inn motel in Selma. Defendant Williams approached the victim and told him that he was not receiving the A & E channel in his room. The Defendant approached the victim and forced him into a bathroom and locked the door. He then sodomized the victim in the rectum and anus. The victim notified a coworker, asking her to come to the motel. The next day, the victim went to the hospital and a sexual-assault examination revealed that material obtained matched a DNA sample provided by Williams. Williams claimed that the sexual relations had been consensual in his defense at trial.

The State asked the trial court to instruct the jury on sexual misconduct as a lesser-included offense of sodomy in the first degree. The Defendant argued that such a jury charge was unconstitutional and relied on the Supreme Court holding in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). The Court held that statutory prohibitions against consensual sodomy were unconstitutional. The trial court granted the State’s request and instructed the jury on sexual misconduct as a lesser offense included within the offense of first-degree sodomy.

The trial court during the jury charges told the jury if they believed that victim had consented to the sexual encounter, it could not convict the Defendant of sodomy in the first degree. The court subsequently instructed and charged the jury that “consent is not a defense to prosecute under the charge of sexual misconduct.”

The jury returned a verdict of guilty on the charge of sexual misconduct. The Defendant argued on appeal that Ala. Code 1975, § 13A-6-65(a)(3), is unconstitutional in light of Lawrence v. Texas. Section 13A-6-65(a)(3) provides that a person commits the crime of sexual misconduct if he or she engages in deviate sexual intercourse. “Deviate sexual intercourse” is defined as “any act of sexual gratification between persons not married to each other involving the sex organs of another and the mouth or anus of another.” Ala. Code, 1975, § 13A-6-60(2).

The Court of Criminal Appeals relying on the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, held that it had no choice but to reverse Williams’ conviction for sexual misconduct. Williams was acquitted of sodomy. A new trial on a charge of nonconsensual sex based on the same facts presented would violate double jeopardy principles. Therefore, a judgment of acquittal was entered in for the Defendant.

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