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Sex Crimes FAQ

Here are answers to some common questions people have about sex offense laws in Florida.

Am I in trouble?

Yes. Whether you have been formally charged, have been accused or are under investigation, you are facing a heap of trouble. The best way to make sure that you preserve your rights, your freedom and your reputation is to have an experienced defense lawyer on your side.

What constitutes a sex crime?

There are many offenses that are considered sex crimes in Florida and nationally, including statutory rape, sexual battery, child molestation and pornography crimes.

Will I have to register?

Most sex offense convictions in Florida will result in the requirement to register as a sex offender. The key is to avoid a conviction in the first place with the help of a skilled attorney. At O'Brien Hatfield, PA, we focus on achieving the best possible outcome for our clients, whether that means fighting for a not guilty verdict, achieving a dismissal through procedural means or negotiating a plea for a lesser charge that does not result in the need to register.

What if I fail to register?

After conviction, you must register in:

  • The jurisdiction where you were convicted
  • The jurisdiction where you work
  • The jurisdiction where you live
  • The jurisdiction where you go to school

If any of the above changes, you are also required to register in the new jurisdiction. However, many convicted sex offenders fail to take this required action to avoid social stigma or because they do not understand the laws or timing requirements. Regardless of the reasons, failing to register can land you in even more trouble with the law. And, if convicted again, you can face up to 10 years in prison.

Will everyone know that I’m a sex offender?

Our team will do everything in our power to protect your privacy during the course of your criminal case. If you are required to register as a sex offender, that will be a matter of public record. Even after your sentence is served, being a registered sex offender makes it nearly impossible to find good housing, get a job or be a true member of the local community.

What if the sex was consensual?

It is common for misunderstandings or actual malice to result in false accusations of sexual battery. If you are facing charges, you deserve a fair trial, and the burden is on the prosecution to prove your guilt, not the other way around. You need a defense lawyer capable of gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses and building the strongest possible defense.

I didn’t download that. How did it get on my hard drive?

It is easier than ever to have files on your computer that you did not purposely download. Malware and file sharing programs are two common ways that computers are exposed to illegal files. If you are under investigation for a pornography offense or have been alerted to such images on your computer, it is crucial to speak to an attorney about your rights.

What are the penalties for soliciting?

The answer will depend on the specifics of your case and the age of the person you were allegedly soliciting. Regardless, you face the possibility of expensive fines and time spent in prison as well as becoming a registered sex offender.

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is the trade in human beings for the purpose of their exploitation through force, coercion or fraud. It may involve extraction of organs and tissue, involuntary labor, forced marriages or sexual slavery. Florida’s attorney general has declared Florida a zero tolerance state for human trafficking.

Human trafficking is a complex crime that could also encompass many other crimes, including sex trafficking, kidnapping, fraud and coercion. To be guilty of human trafficking, you must have participated in soliciting, recruiting, harboring or transporting a person while either making a financial profit or knowing that the person would be subjected to forced labor or other exploitation.

At what age can you be charged with statutory rape?

You could be charged with statutory rape at any age if you are alleged to have engaged in a sexual act or touching with someone under Florida’s age of consent (18). However, there is an exception – the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ exception – that often lessens the consequences for minor defendants.

I’m a good person. Will this ruin my life?

The vast majority of our clients are good people with jobs who pay their taxes and don’t have even as much as a parking ticket on their record. All it takes is one mistake, one misunderstanding or one bad decision to face a devastating criminal charge. We will do everything in our power to minimize the damage you face as a result of an accusation, investigation or criminal charge.