There are a number of crimes which are generally categorizes as sexually-based offenses. These crimes can include sexual battery (rape), sexual activity with a minor (statutory rape), sexual activity with a child, lewd or lascivious molestation or conduct (child molestation), possession or transmission of child pornography, and failure to register as a sex offender or predator. Below is a brief overview of the most commonly charged sexual offenses. Because of the severe punishments that can be at stake in sexual offense cases, it is critical that a person facing these types of charges get assistance immediately from a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney with experience in defending allegations of sexual offenses.
In Florida, there are different categories of child molestation, based upon factors that include the age of the minor and where the minor was allegedly touched. This crime can range from a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, to a Life felony. These crimes are typically called Lewd or Lascivious Molestation or Lewd or Lascivious Conduct.
It is a crime in Florida to possess depictions of sexual conduct by a child, which can include either sexual activity or sexual poses. Such material can include photographs, movies, or other forms of media, whether on a computer or actual prints. The most common prosecutions for possession of child pornography stem from computer downloaded materials that are found on a person's computer hard drive. In order to prosecute an individual for possession of child pornography, the Government must prove that the person actually possessed the images, not just that they were on a computer at the person's house. This can lead to several avenues of defending these types of charges. For instance, it may be a shared computer used by others in the household or outside visitors. Additionally, the Government must prove that the individuals in the photos/movies are actually minors, and not that they just appear to be young. Each individual image or video image can be charged as a separate crime. Each count is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. This means that if police locate 20 images, the Government may charge a person with 20 separate third degree felony charges.
In Florida, the crime of Rape is legally called Sexual Battery. This is one of the most severely punished crimes in the judicial system in Florida. Depending on the nature of the alleged conduct, the age of the victim, and whether or not a weapon was alleged to have been used, this crime can range from a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, all the way up to a capital felony, the highest possible penalty under the law. For example, sexual battery on a person under the age of 12 includes a mandatory life sentence if a person is convicted as charged.
In Florida, it is a crime to for an adult to engage in consensual sexual activity with a minor who is under the age of consent - 18 years old - often referred to as statutory rape. Florida now recognizes the "Romeo and Juliet" laws: in order to be prosecuted for Sexual Activity with a Minor, a person must be 24 years of age or older and the minor must be 16 or 17 years old. This prevents an 18-year-old person from being prosecuted for engaging in consensual sexual conduct with his or her 17-year-old partner.
It is also a crime for a person to engage in sexual activity with a minor between the ages of 12 and 16. This is known as Lewd or Lascivious Battery. Both Sexual Activity with a Minor and Lewd or Lascivious Battery are second degree felonies, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.