Florida Sex Crime Law

Florida sex crimes are serious crimes that can result in severe penalties.

What Is Sex Crimes Law in FL?

Mr. John Musca
By Attorney John Musca - Criminal Lawyer Florida

Musca Law - Sex Crime Lawyers Florida Musca Law
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Musca Law is a full-service criminal defense firm with 23 offices in Florida, serves clients throughout the state. Practice areas include child pornography and other sex crimes, federal crimes, DUI (drunk driving) charges, traffic offense, theft crimes, drug charges, violent crimes, juvenile offenses, white collar crime, probation violations, and other felonies and misdemeanors.
Florida sex crimes are serious crimes that can result in severe penalties. Studies indicate that one in nine women in Florida has been the victim of forcible rape at some point during her life. Prosecutors respond to these allegations in a serious manner. It is important for individuals who are accused of sex crimes to understand the nature of the charges against them, their rights and how to protect their freedom.

Types of Sex Crimes in Florida

There is a wide array of sex crimes in Florida. Each one carries with it its own unique definition and potential penalty. Sex crimes include sexual misconduct, sexual battery, incest, and lewd and lascivious offenses. Some sex crimes in Florida include:

Sexual Battery
Sexual battery occurs when the defendant has oral, anal or vaginal contact with another person using their sexual organ or an object without that person's consent. There are various forms of sexual battery that depend on the age of the victim or the circumstances surrounding the offense. Sexual battery charges include:
  • Sexual battery with a victim less than 12 years of age
  • Sexual battery with a victim 12 years of age or older
  • Sexual battery to a child by a person in a familial or custodial authority
  • Solicitation of a child under 18 years of age to engage in an act that constitutes sexual battery
  • Engaging in an act which injured the sexual organ of another upon a child
  • Unlawful sexual activity with certain minors

There are also separate crimes for sexual battery with a deadly weapon when the defendant uses a weapon or threatens to use a weapon during the offense. Aggravated sexual battery can be charged if any of the following scenarios apply:
  • The victim is physically unable to resist
  • The victim is physically incapacitated
  • The victim has a mental defect that prevents him or her from resisting
  • The victim is drugged without his or her consent and unable to resist
  • The defendant is a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, probation officer or in a position of similar authority over the victim
  • The victim is coerced into submission by force or threats of force that are likely to cause serious personal injury to him or her, or the victim is threatened that the defendant will retaliate against him or her or another person

Lewd and Lascivious Offenses
Florida has a number of lewd or lascivious offenses that can be charged against a defendant. These offenses include:
  • Exposure of sexual organs in a vulgar or indecent manner
  • Exhibition in the presence of a child
  • Molestation
  • Encouraging, forcing or enticing
  • Engaging in sexual activity
  • Committing an unnatural and lascivious act
  • Exhibition over a computer services
  • Exhibition by a detainee in the presence of a facility employee
  • Exhibition, molestation or battery committed upon or in the presence of an elderly or disabled person

Florida criminalizes the act of prostitution, along with acts of engaging minors in prostitution or soliciting for prostitution. Some prostitution and soliciting charges include:
  • Soliciting a child for unlawful sexual conduct using computer services or devices
  • Soliciting a parent, legal guardian or custodian of a child for unlawful sexual conduct using computer services or devices
  • Traveling to meet a minor
  • Traveling to meet a minor facilitated by a parent, legal guardian or custodian

Child Pornography
Possession of child pornography involves the knowing possession, control or viewing of child pornography. Child pornography includes visual depictions, motion pictures, exhibitions, images, data files, computer depictions, representations or other presentations that include sexual conduct by a child. It is illegal to give obscene material to a minor as well as to transmit child pornography or material harmful to a minor through a computer or electronic device.

Sexual Misconduct
Florida criminalizes sexual misconduct when there are sexual relationships between people in a position of trust with vulnerable individuals. Sexual misconduct can include sexual interactions with a patient, forensic client, a psychotherapist's client, a disabled person, juvenile justice staff with a juvenile offender, or inmates or supervised offenders by a correctional officer.

Criminal Investigation Process of Sex Crimes

A criminal investigation into sex crimes is very serious. An investigation may begin without your knowledge when law enforcement is contacted by an alleged victim. A case may also begin during a sting operation in which law enforcement officers pose as children to entice adults to engage with them. They may secure warrants to tap phone lines or explore electronic devices. At some point, law enforcement may contact a defendant and interview him or her. Law enforcement is trained at trying to extract any evidence that they can to use against the defendant during these interviews. They may say that they want to help out the defendant or eliminate him or her as a suspect. They may even make promises to talk to the judge to make sure that the defendant receives a lighter sentence for cooperation or make promises that the defendant will not have to register as a sex offender.

However, it is important for defendants to be aware of their rights and their position in the case. They are a target. If law enforcement officers believe that the defendant has committed a sex crime, they may try to elicit this information to ultimately convict the defendant of the crime. The defendant does not have to talk to law enforcement and can assert this right. If law enforcement asks to search the defendant's home, vehicle, workplace, computer or other location, the defendant can refuse. Any information or access that a defendant gives law enforcement whether through a verbal admission or tangible evidence can be used against him or her at a subsequent trial. Law enforcement can be held to a higher standard in order to secure a warrant. Statements made to law enforcement or evidence gathered from voluntary consent on the part of the defendant will compromise the defense. It is important if a person knows that he or she is under investigation for a sex crime to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer for guidance. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can help explain your rights. He or she can advise you against making statements to law enforcement. If it is in your best interest to provide a statement to law enforcement, he or she can be present during the statement and can ensure that it is made in a controlled fashion and for your benefit.

During the prosecution of a sex crime offense, there will be several pretrial motions that may be brought and your defense lawyer can represent you during this process. He or she can also explore whether a plea agreement may be negotiated in your case and whether it is in your best interest to take it in exchange for a lighter sentence or a reduced charge.

Potential Penalties

Sex crimes in Florida are some of the most heavily punished crimes in the country. Many of these sex crimes can result in years of imprisonment. For sexual battery crimes, the potential penalties depend on the age of the defendant, the age of the victim and whether any aggravating circumstances were present. Defendants who are sentenced for sexual battery are not eligible for gain time and have to serve the full extent of their punishment.

Sexual battery is considered a second degree felony and has a Level 8 offense severity ranking under the state's criminal punishment code. Unless there are grounds for a downward departure, a judge has to give the defendant a minimum sentence of 94.5 months in prison. The defendant may face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, 15 years of sex offender probation and up to $10,000 in fines.

Aggravated sexual battery on a person 18 or older is considered a first degree felony and also has a Level 8 offense severity ranking under the criminal punishment code. The minimum sentence is 94.5 months imprisonment. The maximum punishment is up to 30 years in prison, 30 years of sex offender probation and up to $10,000 in fines.

Offenses involving minors are punished more harshly. For example, aggravated sexual battery on a person between 12 and 18 years of age is considered a life felony with a Level 9 offense severity ranking. Unless there are grounds for a downward departure, the minimum sentence is 108 months in prison and up to life in prison. It is considered a capital sexual battery to commit sexual battery on a child under 12 by a defendant 18 or older. This is considered a life felony. The judge is required to sentence a person convicted of this offense to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Punishments are also more severe when the defendant uses a deadly weapon to commit sexual battery. This offense is assigned a Level 10 offense is a life felony. The minimum sentence for this crime is 126 months imprisonment, up to a term of life in prison. Sexual battery that is likely to cause serious personal injury is treated in the same manner.

Other offenses also carry a range of punishments. For example, lewd or lascivious battery can result in a minimum sentence of 7 years imprisonment, up to 15 years. Statutory rape carries a minimum sentence of 5 years in prison and a maximum of 15 years. Lewd offenses range from a minimum or probation up to a maximum of 15 years in prison. Some sex crimes are considered misdemeanors, such as one count of solicitation or prostitution.

Sex Offender Registration

Many individuals who are convicted of a sex crime in Florida are required to register as a sex offender. There are two designations for individuals convicted of sex crimes who are required to register as a sex offender: sexual predators and sexual offenders.

Sexual predators are considered the most serious offenders. They are individuals who have been convicted of a capital, life or first degree felony sex crime or two or more second degree felony sex crimes. Before a person can be classified as a sexual predator, the court must issue a written finding to this effect. Lifetime registration for sexual predators is required. Individuals who are convicted of the following crimes are required to register for life:
  • False imprisonment
  • Luring or enticing a child
  • Procuring a minor for prostitution
  • Selling or buying minors into sex trafficking or prostitution
  • Kidnapping
  • Unlawful sexual activity with certain minors
  • Lewd or lascivious offenses that are committed upon or in the presence of children 15 or younger, an elderly person or a disabled person
  • Sexual performance by a child
  • Child pornography or transmitting pornography over a computer
  • Sexual battery

For released individuals, the requirement is to register with their local sheriff's department within 48 hours of becoming a resident in the state. The defendant must provide the following information when registering:
  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Age
  • Social Security number
  • Physical description
  • Address
  • Place of work
  • Recent photograph
  • Fingerprints
  • Description of the crime for which the defendant was convicted, when it was committed and the sentence received

This information is widely available to the public. Failing to register or provide this information or accurate information can be charged with a third-degree felony. Individuals who are required to register as a sex offender in another state who have moved to Florida are also required to register.

Restrictions Regarding Residency and Work
Being a registered sex offender imposes additional restrictions on where the defendant can live. Individuals convicted of certain sex crimes involving a child under 16 years of age from living within 1,000 feet of places with a high number of children, such as schools, playgrounds, daycare centers or parks. Some local ordinances have greater restrictions, such as not allowing a registered sex offender to loiter within a certain number of feet from these locations.

Sex offenders may also face restrictions regarding work, such as not being able to work in a job that involves any business, school, daycare, park, playground or other location where children are regularly present. These restrictions can make it difficult for a defendant to find a place to live and work.

Defenses to Sex Crimes

The potential defenses that may apply to sex crime charges are dependent on the specific circumstances surrounding the case. Some potential defenses may include:

One common defense to a sex crime is consent. If the alleged victim consented to the sexual contact or other conduct, the defendant may assert this as a defense. Consent is not always a defense that can apply, such as if the victim was too young, disabled or intoxicated to provide legal consent.

False Accusations
In some situations, a person may be falsely accused. There may be a situation involving misidentification. DNA evidence may help establish that the defendant did not commit the crime. In other situations, there may be motives for the alleged victim to lie about the events. For example, there may be a custody battle and a parent trying to gain an upper hand. The victim may be trying to retaliate against the defendant. The victim may not want to admit to consensual acts and may claim a sexual offense occurred when it did not.

In situations involving solicitation or luring of a minor, this may be the result of a sting operation. A defense may apply if the investigating officer's involvement constituted entrapment.

Insufficient Evidence
The prosecutor has the burden of establishing proof beyond a reasonable doubt of each element of the crime. Sometimes an investigation may be rushed and there may not be sufficient evidence against the defendant.

A criminal defense lawyer can vigorously examine the facts of your case to determine valid defenses to the charges you face.

Sex Crimes Law FL - Know Your Rights

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