Commonly charged sex offenses in Florida range from the exposure of sexual organs in a vulgar or indecent manner (Fl. Stat. § 800.03, to lewd and lascivious molestation (Fl. Stat. § 800.04(5)), to sexual battery on a victim less than 12 years of age (Fl. Stat. § 794.011(2)). All of theses charges carry grave criminal and civil consequences that could very well last a lifetime.
"It's your word against mine..."
Over the past thirty years, I've defended many sexual battery and lewd and lascivious molestation (or lewd and lascivious conduct cases) in Miami circuit courts ― many involving minor children. I'm often asked: "how could you?" My reply is "how could I not?" And that's because, in a large number of these cases, there's no DNA, no bodily fluids to test for DNA, no "rape center" results confirming any type of penetration, no independent witnesses, and no corroboration.
It's just one person's word against another.
For the sake of brevity, I'd like to discuss Sexual Battery, Lewd and Lascivious Molestation and Conduct and, finally, Solicitation and Traveling to Meet a Minor cases.
Sexual Battery & Rape
Sexual Battery ― which is more commonly known as rape, is one of the most aggressively prosecuted crimes in Florida and carries some of the most severe and long-lasting penalties of any criminal offense.
Definition of Sexual Battery
In Florida, the crime of Sexual Battery is committed when a person has non-consensual oral, anal, or vaginal contact with another person using their sexual organ or an object.
As with many other crimes in Florida, there are circumstances which may enhance Sexual Battery to Aggravated Sexual Battery or, even, Capital Sexual Battery.
Aggravated Sexual Battery
Aggravated Sexual Battery is committed when a person has oral, anal, or vaginal contact with another person using their sexual organ or an object under an aggravating circumstance.
Aggravating circumstances include:
The victim is physically helpless to resist.
The victim is coerced into submission by threats of force or violence likely to cause serious personal injury and the victim reasonably believed the present ability to execute the threat.
The victim is coerced into submission by threats to retaliate against the victim, or any other person, and the victim reasonably believes that the offender has the ability to execute the threat in the future.
The victim is unknowingly and without consent drugged so that they are mentally or physically incapacitated.
The victim was taken advantage of due to a known mental defect.
The victim is physically incapacitated.
The offender is a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer, or any other person in a position of control or authority, or a person reasonably believed to be in a position of control or authority as an agent or employee of government.
Penalties for Sexual Battery
The penalties for Sexual Battery are determined by the age of the offender, the age of the victim, or the presence of aggravating circumstances. Moreover, a defendant convicted of Sexual Battery will be designated either a sexual offender or a sexual predator under Florida law and required to comply with sexual offender and predator registration laws for the remainder of their lives.
Finally, under the Adam Walsh Act, a person convicted of Sexual Battery is ineligible to ever petition for removal from state or federal registration laws.
Capital Sexual Battery
In Florida, Capital Sexual Battery occurs when a person over 18 years old sexually batters a minor 12 years old or younger― and both persons must have been in a familial or in a custodial relation. A judge is required to sentence a person convicted of Capital Sexual Battery to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Besides traditional defenses available to defendants in all criminal cases, consent is a defense to an accusation of sexual battery or rape, so long as the consent was found to be intelligently, knowing, and voluntarily made. Second, false allegations of sexual battery or rape are increasingly common in Florida and one of the primary reasons people find themselves accused of sexual battery or rape.
Let's take a look at another subset of commonly charged Florida sex crimes, Lewd and Lascivious Conduct and Lewd and Lascivious Molestation.
Lewd and Lascivious Molestation
Lewd and Lascivious Molestation occurs when a person touches in a lewd way the breasts, genitals or buttocks of a victim less than 16 years old or forces the victim to do the same to them. “Lascivious” means wicked, lustful or unchaste, licentious, or a sensual intent.
Surprisingly, touching a person against their consent in a lewd and lascivious manner, over their clothing, may constitute Lewd and Lascivious Molestation.
As with sexual battery, penalties for Lewd and Lascivious Molestation vary, depending upon the ages of the perpetrator and the victim. For example, if this type of molestation is performed by a person 18 years of age or older upon a victim less than 12 years old, the accused may face life in Florida state prison. On the other hand, if the defendant is over the age of 18 and the victim is over 12 years old, but younger than 16, the accused will be charged with a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine in addition to having to register as a sex offender.
Lewd and Lascivious Conduct
Lewd and Lascivious Conduct may be charged for a wide array of actions. For example, if one intentionally touches a person under 16 in a lewd and lascivious manner or solicits someone under 16 to commit this type of act, they have committed the crime of Lewd and Lascivious Conduct. If a defendant is 18 years old or older, he or she will be charged with a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If the defendant is less than 18 years old, he or she will be charged with the lesser, third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Even more so than in Sexual Battery crimes, in Lewd and Lascivious Molestation and Conduct cases, there may be absolutely no physical evidence of molestation― no DNA, no bodily fluids to test for DNA, no "rape center" results confirming any type of penetration, no independent witnesses, and no corroboration.
Again, it's often just one person's word against another.
Solicitation & Traveling to Meet a Minor Cases
Recently, shows such as Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator" have shed light on adults who solicit minors for sex, often via the Internet.
Traveling to Meet a Minor for sex occurs when an individual travels any distance to engage in illegal sexual conduct with a child ― or someone the individual thought was a child ― after using a computer to seduce that child. This statute also makes illegal for a defendant to travel to participate in sexual conduct with a child after propositioning the guardian of that child to allow the sexual conduct. A conviction for this offense carries up to Either one of 15 years in Florida state prison, a $10,000 fine, and registration as a sex offender for life.
There is hope
If you or a loved one is arrested and charged with any of the sex crimes discussed above in Miami or anywhere else in Florida, please call our 24-hour telephone number 305-461-1066 to set up an appointment and free consultation so we can assess your particular case and provide you with the best legal advice on how to proceed. Your meeting with me will be strictly confidential and subject to the attorney-client privilege.
I want to hear your side of the story.
State and Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
55 Merrick Way ~ Suite 212
Coral Gables, Florida 33134
305-461-1066 (24 Hours)
We are solely a Criminal Defense Law Firm. That's all we do and all we have done in Miami and throughout Florida since 1987.