A 21-year-old University of Miami student was arrested on Sunday and accused of inappropriately touching several students inside their dorm rooms, according to Coral Gables police.
The accused, a student from China, was booked Sunday into Miami-Dade's Pre-Trial Detention Center and charged with two counts of burglary with an assault or battery (burg/batt). He was held without bond because burglary with an assault or battery is a felony punishable by a maximum of life in prison. Under Florida law, all crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment carry no bond.
It is alleged that the accused entered a couple of unlocked dorm rooms and "inappropriately" touched female students while they slept, according to police reports.
After he was detained, the accused allegedly gave a full confession.
As a criminal defense attorney, my first impressions are that this young man meant no harm to the alleged victims. There is no evidence that he intended to commit a serious or violent crime against them. While touching a stranger in their sleep is disturbing enough, it's evident that he meant to go no further than that.
I would strongly advise that he be evaluated by a mental health professional. After an eval has been completed, he may be able to get some sort of conditional release, perhaps even to a mental health facility.
These are the actions of somebody who is suffering from a mental defect and having seen my fair share of clients whose mental ailments led to their arrests, an evaluation can help determine what course of treatment is necessary.
"Mental health" is not just some term of art that defense attorneys like to throw around to get their clients out of trouble. People who suffer from these diseases of the mind sometimes do things they would normally not do. Should they be held responsible for their actions? Of course. But entering a dorm room because you hear voices in your head and entering a dorm room because you have violent intentions are two very different things. Fortunately, the law recognizes the need for mental health treatment as a mitigating factor in sentencing.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade and Broward. Call today to discuss your case.