Florida law addresses a broad range of what is generally described as sexually-based offenses or, put more simply, sex crimes. Not only are these some of the most serious offenses in Florida, but they carry with them a broad range of collateral consequences which may substantially affect the lives of anyone charged with and/or convicted of such an offense
The State of Florida classifies sex crimes into two main categories — lewd or lascivious acts, and sexual battery and rape. If you have been arrested for and charged with sex crimes of any type in Florida, contact the Gainesville attorneys with Silverman and Mack, LLC as soon as possible. We will help defend your rights and assist you through each aspect of your case to work towards the best possible outcome.
How Is Sexual Battery Defined?
There are two main parts, or chapters, of Florida law which deal with sex crimes. The first is Florida Statute § Chapter 794, which addresses sexual battery. This chapter defines sexual battery generally and then goes on to specify a variety of circumstances in which the penalties for certain types of sexual batteries are enhanced. Some of the penalties are slightly different if the person accused is not an adult (under the age of 18).
“Sexual battery” is defined as oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object; however, sexual battery does not include an act done for bona fide medical purposes. This crime requires a lack of consent of the victim. This lack of consent can either be explicit or inferred from the circumstances. Under no circumstances can a child under the age of 16 consent to sexual activity, and whether the person accused knew of the alleged victim’s age is not a defense to the crime. Sexual battery committed by an adult on a child over the age of 12 is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Sexual battery committed by an adult on a child under the age of 12 is a capital felony. While the death penalty used to be a possible sentence for this offense, this is no longer permitted. A person convicted of this offense must, by law, receive mandatory life in prison (without parole).
Sexual battery is enhanced to a first-degree felony of life felony, punishable by up to 30 years or life in prison if certain conditions are present, which include the following.
- The “consent” of the victim is obtained by force or threat of force
- The victim gave "consent" due to or a threat of retaliation or injury to another person
- The use of a weapon if the victim is physically helpless to resist
- The person accused allegedly uses some kind of drug or intoxicant to obtain consent
How Is Lewd & Lascivious Battery Defined?
Florida statutes also outline sex crimes in Chapter 800. Many of the offenses covered by Chapter 794 overlap with the offenses detailed within Chapter 800. As with the former Florida Statute chapter, belief or ignorance as to the alleged victim’s age is legally prohibited as a defense. This means it doesn’t matter if the alleged victim shows a fake ID showing he or she is over the age of consent – if the individual with which you engage in sexual activities with is under the age of consent, the crimes of sexual abuse towards a child, among other crimes, pertain to you. Other provisions of Florida law carve out exceptions to the sex offense statutes. For example, there is a Florida law which provides that sexual activity between a 16 or 17-year-old and someone less than 24 is not a crime.
Section 800.04 defines a number of crimes, which include the following.
- “Lewd and lascivious battery, " sexual intercourse or sexual activity between any person and a child under the age of 16.
- “Lewd or lascivious exhibition,” which covers a range of sexual activities not necessarily occurring upon another person, but in the presence of at least one other person.
- “Lewd or lascivious molestation,” which is generally defined as sexual activity short of actual intercourse. If the child is less than the age of 12, the law requires a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years upon conviction, followed by a lifetime so sexual offender probation.
What Are The Penalties For Sex Crimes?
The penalties for sex crimes can range from probation to a sentence of mandatory life in prison. However, the collateral penalties extend for all offenders. There are specific provisions of Florida law for offenders on sex offender probation. Unlike regular probation, there are mandatory and highly restrictive and burdensome additional requirements. These include mandatory attendance at sexual offender therapy, the administration of polygraph (lie detector) tests on a regular basis, a requirement that the offender maintains a driving log and prohibitions on using the Internet or Internet-connected devices, among other requirements. Most importantly, anyone convicted of a sex offense — or even if adjudication is just withheld — must, by law, become a registered sexual offender or predator, depending on the severity of the underlying crime. There are enormous and burdensome reporting requirements for registered sexual offenders, including reporting to the Sheriff’s Office four times per year, reporting changes of address with 48 hours among a number of other requirements.
Even more difficult is the fact that registered sexual offenders and predators have their pictures plastered all over the Internet, including government websites which are often the first result on a number of different search engines. This means that the details of a person’s crime are available for anyone to see, basically forever. This information is often published on a regular basis in local newspapers as well. Removing these designations, while technically possible under Florida law, is virtually impossible. In addition, many cities, towns, and counties have passed laws limiting where registered sexual offenders or predators can live (e.g., not near a school, day care centers, etc.). This can create enormous problems for offenders trying to re-integrate into society. For all of these reasons, it is very important that anyone accused of a sexually-based offense contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for assistance immediately. While sexually-based offenses are very serious, there are many unique issues in these cases with which only an attorney can assist you.