Child molestation charges are among the most serious accusations a person can face. Every state rightfully prohibits sex acts with children and has attached strict sentencing to those offenses. In Florida, child molestation is covered by the state’s “lewd and lascivious” statutes. While child sexual molestation is vastly underreported and poses a serous risk to children, there are cases in which misguided adults make false accusations. Furthermore, in cases that involve children who are not yet old enough to express themselves through speech, a person may be mistakenly accused if multiple adults were in the child’s presence and the identity of the abuser is unknown. Regardless, a West Palm Beach attorney who is well-versed in laws relating to lewd and lascivious offenses can help individuals who have been wrongfully accused.
How do Broward County courts define it?
Florida law defines lascivious as wicked, lustful, unchaste, licentious, or with sensual intent. The statutes outline multiple lewd or lascivious offenses. Penalties vary from misdemeanor to felony depending on the age of the victim, the details of the illegal contact, and, in some cases, the age of the offender.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
When are charges are leveled?
A person commits lewd or lascivious molestation if he or she touches the genitals, breasts, or buttocks of a child who is under 16 years of age or forces the victim to do the same to the offender. The law does not take into consideration whether the touching occurred through or beneath clothing. Child molestation is a strict liability crime; therefore, the defendant is unable to argue he or she was unaware of the victim’s age or that the victim consented to the illegal touching. If you are facing these types of sex crimes charges in Broward County, call the Fort Laudedale lewd & lascivious defense attorneys at Joffe Law, P.A. immediately to secure experienced representation.
Penalties are determined by the age of the victim:
- If the victim is under age 12, the offense is a life felony, and the judge is required to impose a lifetime prison sentence if the defendant is convicted
- If the victim is between the ages of 12 and 16, the offense is a second degree felony punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 51 months in prison followed by 2 years on sex offender probation, up to 15 years in prison, 15 years on sex offender probation, and a fine of up to $10,000
- If the offense is committed by a minor against a victim who is under age 12, the defendant may be charged with a second degree felony, punishable by 15 years in prison, 15 years on sex offender probation, and a fine of up to $10,000. A minimum mandatory sentence of 51 months in prison also applies, assuming the offender has no prior convictions and if the judge finds no grounds for a downward sentence departure.
A person commits lewd or lascivious battery if he or she engages in sexual activity with a victim who is at least 12 years old, but younger than 16. Alternatively, a person may be charged with lewd or lascivious battery if he or she entices or forces someone between 12 and 16 to engage in prostitution, sadomasochistic abuse, beastiality, or other sexual acts. Strict liability applies to this offense, therefore, defendants may not argue consent as a defense against a lewd or lascivious battery charge. This charge is roughly equivalent to statutory rape. Lewd or lascivious battery is a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 15 years on sex offender probation, and a $10,000 fine. The judge is required to impose a minimum mandatory sentence of 7 3/4 years in prison followed by a minimum of two years on sex offender probation if a defendant is convicted without grounds for a downward departure sentence.
Florida state law
Florida’s lewd or lascivious conduct statute prohibits touching a minor who is under age 16 in a manner that falls short of lewd or lascivious molestation. Soliciting a minor under age 16 to participate in a lewd or lascivious act is also prohibited. Like other offenses in this category, such conduct is a strict liability offense. If the offender is an adult, he or she may be convicted of a second degree felony and sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison, 15 years on sex offender probation, and a fine of up to $10,000 with a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 months followed by at least two years of sex offender probation. If the offender is under 18, the offense is a third degree felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison, five years on probation, and up to $5,000 in fines with a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison followed by at least two years on sex offender probation.
Lewd or lascivious exhibition
An offense that does not involve touching, but is characterized by exposing the genitals, a person commits lewd or lascivious exhibition if he or she intentionally exposes his or her naked genitals in a lewd or lascivious manner, masturbates, or engages in any other sex act that does not involve touching the victim. Sentencing for lewd and lascivious exhibition is the same as sentencing for similar conduct.
The importance of retaining a sex crimes lawyer
If facing a sex crimes charge in Fort Lauderdale, the first step is to call an experienced Broward County lewd and lascivious lawyer. Florida’s laws regarding sexual conduct are very complex; therefore, no one should attempt to face a charge without the help of a knowledgeable, experienced counsel.