final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Bradford County. Richard B.
Davis, Jr., Judge.
J. Padovano of Brannock & Humphries, Tallahassee; Andy
Thomas, Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Virginia Chester Harris,
Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
appellant makes two arguments on appeal to challenge his
convictions of sexual battery and tampering with a victim.
The appellant first argues that the trial court erred when it
admitted a fourteen-year-old child declarant's hearsay
statements without first analyzing whether or not the child
was in need of the protection offered by section 90.803(23),
Florida Statutes (2014) (protecting children from the
emotional harm associated with testifying in court). The
appellant also argues that the trial court was required to
grant his motion for judgment of acquittal with regards to
the charge of tampering with a victim based on this
Court's case law. We find that the appellant's
interpretation of case law and the statutory requirements of
section 90.803(23) are unsupported. We affirm both of the
the Legislature changed the maximum age of the declarant in
section 90.803(23), the appellant argues that in determining
the admissibility of a child victim's hearsay statement,
a trial court must initially determine if a child victim is
in need of the statute's protection. The appellant argues
that the failure to determine the child's need for such
protection violates his constitutional right to confront
witnesses against him and his right to due process. Statutory
interpretation is reviewed de novo. Polite v.
State, 973 So.2d 1107, 1111 (Fla. 2007). When
interpreting statutes, courts focus on legislative intent.
Id. To determine legislative intent, courts first
look to the plain meaning. State v. Dorsett, 158
So.3d 557, 560 (Fla. 2015). It is only when the language of
the statute is unclear or ambiguous that the court applies
rules of statutory construction to discern intent.
90.803 states as follows:
(23) HEARSAY EXCEPTION; STATEMENT OF CHILD VICTIM.-
(a) Unless the source of information or the method or
circumstances by which the statement is reported indicates a
lack of trustworthiness, an out-of-court statement made by a
child victim with a physical, mental, emotional, or
developmental age of 16 or less describing any act of child
abuse or neglect, any act of sexual abuse against a child,
the offense of child abuse, the offense of aggravated child
abuse, or any offense involving an unlawful sexual act,
contact, intrusion, or penetration performed in the presence
of, with, by, or on the declarant child, not otherwise
admissible, is admissible in evidence in any civil or
criminal proceeding if:
1. The court finds in a hearing conducted outside the
presence of the jury that the time, content, and
circumstances of the statement provide sufficient safeguards
of reliability. In making its determination, the court may
consider the mental and physical age and maturity of the
child, the nature and duration of the abuse or offense, the
relationship of the child to the offender, the reliability of
the assertion, the reliability of the child victim, and any
other factor deemed appropriate; and
2. The child either:
a. Testifies; or
b. Is unavailable as a witness, provided that there is other
corroborative evidence of the abuse or offense.
Unavailability shall include a finding by the court that the
child's participation in the trial or proceeding would
result in a substantial likelihood of severe emotional ...