Tampa Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Sex Offenses
  4.  » Sex Crimes Involving A Minor

Sex Crimes Involving A Minor

Statutory rape is a criminal charge often viewed through shades of gray in our society, but the law is black and white. Florida’s age of consent is 18, which leaves almost no wiggle room in cases where statutory rape is alleged to have taken place.

At O’Brien Hatfield Reese, PA, we have put this guide together to answer your statutory rape-related questions, such as “How long is a statutory rape sentence?” and “How much jail time for a statutory rape conviction?”

Our attorneys have extensive experience and know how to beat a statutory rape charges in Florida, including first-degree statutory rape, second-degree statutory rape and aggravated statutory rape.

What The Law Says

Statutory rape in Florida can include a variety of specific acts, involving everything from taking indecent liberties with a child to sexual battery. They include the following:

  • Unlawful sexual activity with certain minors is defined as sexual penetration between a minor who is 16 or 17 and an adult who is at least 24 years old. A conviction results in a penalty of $10,000 in fines and up to 15 years in prison.
  • Lewd and lascivious molestation is defined as sexual touching between a defendant and a minor. Penalties vary depending on the age of the victim and the defendant, varying from three to 15 years in prison.
  • Lewd and lascivious battery is defined as sexual penetration between an adult and a minor 13 to 15 years old. Penalties include at least seven years and six months in prison to as many as 15 years in prison.
  • Lewd and lascivious conduct is defined as sexual touching between an adult and a minor younger than 16. Depending on the age of the defendant, the penalties can range from two years and six months to five years in prison.
  • Contributing to the delinquency of a minor: If statutory rape results in a pregnancy, a conviction for this charge can result in at least two years and up to six years in prison.

Unfortunately, statutory rape falls under the category of sex offenses that require sex offender registration upon conviction. Registering as a sex offender can turn your life upside down, making you a pariah in the community for the rest of your life.

Internet Luring/Enticement Of A Child

Luring children through the internet (or by any other means) to engage in sexual conduct is a serious crime. It is possible to be convicted for this crime even when the apparent “child” involved in online communications was not actually a child.

Any criminal offense involving minors and sexual activity or solicitation for such activity is a serious matter. What may start as a case of playful “sexting” (sending indecent images via cellphone messaging systems) could end up with you being charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex.

Any criminal offense involving minors and sexual activity, or solicitation for such activity, is a serious matter. Unlawful activities in this area include internet luring, soliciting a minor for sexual activity, sexting and actually meeting up with a minor for the sake of sexual activity.

Even Teens Can Be Charged For Sexting With Other Teens

Since 2011, Florida has had a teen sexting law in place, requiring first offenses for sexting to be punished by a $60 fine and eight hours of community service. Subsequent offenses may be classified as a first-degree misdemeanor for a second offense or felony child pornography for a third offense.

Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors would naturally look much differently at the same offenses if one party was over the age of 18. In such cases, criminal charges of the sexual exploitation of a child, the luring of a child and/or child pornography might apply, depending on the circumstances.

The ‘Romeo And Juliet’ Exception

Should a 19-year-old and his or her 16-year-old partner engaging in a sex act result in the 19-year-old being a registered sex offender? The law in Florida says no, and offers a limited “Romeo and Juliet” exception to protect young lovers from a statutory rape conviction.

This exception applies to situations where a victim 14 to 17 years of age engages in consensual sex with a defendant who is no more than four years older than the victim. The defendant could still be subjected to criminal penalties but would not have to register as a sex offender.

What Constitutes ‘Traveling To Meet A Minor To Commit An Unlawful Sex Act’ In Florida?

The act of “traveling to meet a minor to commit an unlawful sex act” is a second-degree felony in Florida. It does not matter whether any sexual activity actually occurred. It does not matter how far the “traveling” distance was. And it does not matter whether it was actually a child, or simply a police officer posing as a child, who was the target of the interaction.

You can be convicted as long as prosecutors can prove that after interacting with your target on the internet, you believed that you were going to meet up with a child (under age 18) for the purpose of sexual activity. If you are convicted, a judge will be required to impose a minimum prison sentence for you to spend 21 months behind bars. Depending on circumstances, penalties may be much more severe – up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of sex offender probation and/or $10,000 in fines.

Fighting Possession Of Child Pornography Charges

There are two things you need to know right away:

  1. Bad things can and do happen to good people.
  2. All it takes is one accidental download or false accusation to find yourself facing devastating charges.

Chances are that you have never been in trouble with the law before and you are scared to death. You have every reason to be, as even being charged with child pornography offenses can result in a social stigma that follows you everywhere you go. With so much at stake, you need a proven defense lawyer on your side as soon as possible.

Police or prosecutors may accuse you of possession of child pornography that you did not know – or forgot – was on your computer. Many an internet user has unwittingly downloaded something without realizing what it was. Regardless of whether you believe you are guilty, you owe it to yourself to consult with an experienced sex crimes defense attorney.

Is There A Statute Of Limitations On Statutory Rape?

There is a statute of limitations for statutory rape in Florida. Charges must be brought within three years of the alleged act taking place.

Are You Facing Sex Charges Involving A Minor?

Put a proven defense lawyer on your side to protect your rights. Contact O’Brien Hatfield Reese, PA, at 813-345-4909 for your free initial consultation.