Simply being accused of a sex offense can shatter an individual’s life, even if the charges cannot be proved in a court of law. Innocent people face social stigma, broken personal relationships, and a destroyed career. Prosecutors aggressively pursue cases of a sexual nature with the intent of getting convictions. Even an allegation of sexual misconduct can initiate a detailed investigation and make it hard for you to get a mortgage, loans, employment, or home rental.
Safeguard Your Life and Future by Getting Competent Representation
Considering the drastic fallouts of a sexual offense charge, you should get in contact with us right away so one of our experienced sex offense lawyers in Daytona Beach, FL can get started in your case’s defense right away. Talk about the facts of the case so that the attorneys can gather the necessary evidence to clear your name and reputation.
Do keep in mind that a conviction may permanently enter the offender’s name into the Florida official sex offender registry. Personal details like name, address, and criminal history are made available to any person looking into the defendant’s background. Avoid that from happening by hiring an experienced lawyer to defend you and to have the charges reduced or dismissed.
Defining Sex Offenses
A sexual offense is any unwanted sexual contact with another person. If the victim is a minor, they cannot legally provide consent to sexual acts with an adult. The act is regarded as an offense regardless of whether or not the victim was fully clothed or actual penetration took place.
Sex crimes charges are still valid irrespective of whether the victim knew or had a relationship with the accused. Here are the specific categories of such offenses.
Florida statute 794.011 defines sexual battery as the act of having non consensual sexual contact with the victim anally, vaginally, or orally using the penis, vagina, finger, or any other object. Legally speaking, rape is considered synonymous with sexual battery.
Aggravated Sexual Battery
When a sexual battery is committed on a victim in certain severe circumstances, the offense becomes an aggravated sexual assault. These situations can include duress under the threat of physical injury or a case where the victim is incapable of resisting due to a mental or physical reason. For instance, if the victim is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a personal with mental disabilities, or a person with physical disabilities. If the defendant holds a position of authority over the victim and forces sexual contact, that is also a punishable offense.
Any sexual contact with a minor age 12 or below is statutory rape. Charges of sexual battery automatically apply since the victim’s consent is irrelevant–children cannot give consent.
The state of Florida has a Romeo and Juliet rule where sexual partners cannot be below 14 years of age. Further, if at least one participant is under the age of 18, there cannot be a gap of more than four years between two consenting partners engaging in sexual contact.
Sexual Battery with Bodily Injury
Sexual battery where the victim is injured because the perpetrator used excessive physical force results in more severe penalties.
Lack of Consent
The law bases all sexual crimes on one key underlying factor – consent. At any time, the victim may indicate their refusal to sexual contact. These indications can be verbal or non-verbal such as pushing, shaking their heads, screaming, or any other actions that show they do not want to engage in sexual activity.
Understanding Lewd and Lascivious Behavior
Florida state law considers sexual crimes against minors to be especially reprehensible. For instance:
- Lewd and lascivious battery: The offender engages in sexual activity with a victim aged 12 to 16 years or entices them to engage in sexual contact
- Lewd and lascivious molestation: The offender intentionally touches the victim’s private body parts such as genitals, breasts, or buttocks, or forces the victim to touch the offender. The victim is below 16 years of age
- Lewd and lascivious conduct: The offender touches the victim under 16 years in a sexual manner or forces the victim to touch the offender
- Exhibition: The offender exposes their genitals, masturbates, or engages in any sexual conduct without physically touching the victim
Punishments for Sex Offenses
Penalties for sexual offenses depend on the severity of the crime and the age of the victim. Here are a few examples:
- Sexual battery is a second degree felony crime and carries penalties such as a maximum of 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and a fine up to $10,000
- Aggravated sexual battery is a first degree felony and carries penalties such as a maximum prison term of 30 years
- Sexual battery against minors under 12 years is punishable with a life sentence or at least 25 years in prison
- Lewd and lascivious battery is punishable by 7 years in prison or probation. If the victim is a minor or if the act includes behavior like exhibition or molestation, the penalties can be up to 15 years’ prison term.
Contact our Attorneys at Smith & Eulo Law Firm
The attorneys at Smith & Eulo have built an impressive reputation over 20 years and are well-known for their expertise in handling sexual crime charges of all degrees in the state of Florida including Daytona Beach and Volusia County’s adjacent areas. Rely on their competent advice and in-depth knowledge of the intricacies of the legal system to guide you in the right direction. When your life and reputation are at stake, you need nothing but a robust defense to clear your name and give you back your life.