Fort Lauderdale Sex Crime Defense
Fort Lauderdale sex crime defense attorneys here at Musca Law are always standing by to represent you and your interests in the court of law. Of all the different types of criminal offenses in Florida, sex crimes are perhaps the most aggressively investigated and prosecuted, so defendants who have been accused of these kinds of crimes are encouraged to gain a good understanding of the elements of their offense and available defenses before trial.
Fort Lauderdale Child Pornography Lawyers
Some of the most commonly charged sex offenses involve allegations of the possession, manufacture, or distribution of child pornography, which is defined under Fla. Stat. 847.001(3) as any image depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct. These types of images are distinguishable from child erotica, which are defined as photographs that contain depictions of nude or partially nude minors who are posed in a manner that doesn’t qualify as sexual conduct. The possession of child erotica is not unlawful, so it is critical for those who have been charged with this offense to have a clear understanding of the state’s child pornography-related definitions.
Before being convicted of possessing child pornography, prosecutors must not only prove that the images qualify as child pornography, but that the defendant viewed more than one image and also saved the images to a cache file or knew that they would automatically be saved. If this burden is met, a defendant faces third-degree felony penalties for every image recovered from his or her possession. This means that a person could end up being sentenced to 25 years in prison for the possession of five photos, as the maximum sentence per charge is five years imprisonment.
It is also not uncommon for those who have been charged with possessing child pornography to face charges of transmitting, distributing, or manufacturing pornographic images, all of which are third-degree felonies. Sharing images or videos with someone else, on the other hand, is considered a second-degree felony while promoting or producing child pornography is a first-degree felony. Defendants accused of this offense should also be wary of federal charges of possessing child pornography, which can be levied if the images moved across state lines or were created using materials or equipment that were transported across state lines. This includes images sent electronically via email or website.
Proving that a computer virus caused the images to be downloaded onto a computer, or that a computer was accessed by multiple people could help an accused escape conviction, as could providing proof that he or she did not know what the images contained.
Solicitation Attorneys in Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, like other cities and states, criminalizes prostitution, which means that both sex workers and those who solicit them can be charged in court under Fla. Stat. 796.07. Although soliciting a prostitute is usually a misdemeanor charge for first-time offenders, the charge can be enhanced if the person being solicited was a minor, or if the other party thought that he or she was a minor. This is an especially common scenario when law enforcement officers are involved in an internet sting operation. It is important to note that defendants are not permitted to argue that they were unaware of the other party’s age, although it is possible to avoid conviction by raising the defense of entrapment.
Fort Lauderdale Child Molestation Lawyers
Any sexual contact with minors is forbidden. In fact, a person can be charged with child molestation even if no physical contact actually took place. This is because Florida’s child molestation laws prohibit not only intercourse but also sexual touching of oneself or the other party, as well as masturbation in the presence of a minor. Like all sex crimes involving children, defendants are not permitted to argue that the other party consented to the activity, although they can raise arguments about how evidence was collected and whether their Fourth Amendment rights were violated.
Sexual Assault and Battery Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale
While Florida’s child molestation and lewd and lascivious crime laws apply specifically to children, the state’s sexual battery law addresses situations where a person is accused of committing a sexual crime against either a child or an adult. Unlike other crimes where a defendant cannot raise the defense of consent, those who are accused of sexual assault can avoid conviction by proving that the accuser actually gave voluntary and knowing consent to the sexual activity in question. Both sexual battery and sexual assault fall under the same broad statute found at Fla. Stat. 794.011, which prohibits non-consensual oral, vaginal, or anal penetration with the use of a sexual organ or other objects. How this offense is charged depends on a number of factors, including:
- The age of the alleged victim;
- Whether or not the victim suffered from a mental defect;
- Whether the victim was drugged;
- Whether the defendant threatened to use force or violence against the victim or a third party;
- Whether the victim was physically helpless;
- Whether a weapon or force was used during the offense; and
- Whether the offender was a police officer or someone else in a position of authority.
For instance, if the victim was over the age of 12 years old, the offense will usually be charged as a second-degree felony, while the use of force or a weapon can increase the charge to a life felony. Finally, when a victim is a minor under the age of 12 years old, a defendant convicted of sexual assault could face capital felony charges, meaning that he or she could be subject to the death penalty. Regardless of the age of the victim, a defendant charged with sexual battery can face a mandatory minimum of 25 years imprisonment under Fla. Stat. 794.0115 if he or she is convicted and:
- Caused a serious personal injury to the victim;
- Used or threatened to use a deadly weapon during the commission of the offense;
- Committed the offense against more than one person; or
- Had previously been convicted of a sex crime or a felony.
In these types of cases, providing proof of an accuser’s consent to the activity is crucial to establishing a defendant’s innocence. However, to exculpate someone, this consent must be knowing and voluntary, meaning that it cannot be coerced. Furthermore, this defense cannot be raised if the victim was a minor. This is true even if the defendant was purposely misled about the minor’s age.
Aggravated Sexual Battery
Sexual battery is the crime of sexual assault with the added provision that it also took place under one or more of the following conditions:
- The victim is physically incapacitated
- The victim is threatened into obedience by coercion, brutality, or force that will cause serious personal harm and the victim truly believes in the offender’s ability to carry out this threat
- The victim is compelled into obedience by threats of revenge against the victim, the victim’s family, or some other person, and the victim truly believes that the offender has the ability to carry out this threatening behavior at some later time
- Without their awareness or their permission, the victim is sedated so that they are physically and/or mentally debilitated
- The victim was assaulted specifically because they were known to have a mental disability
- The victim is unconscious by their own actions, such as drinking too much
- The offender is an officer in a correctional institution, a probation officer, a law enforcement officer, or any other person who is seen as being in a place of power and/or control over the victim, or somebody whom the victim understandably thought was in a power, control or authority as a government employee or a representative thereof
Sexual Battery on a Child Under 12
Sexual battery on a child under 12 is considered to have taken place when a person who is over 12 years of age has anal, vaginal, or oral contact in any way with a child who is less than 12 years old. Consent cannot be given in these cases due to the extremely young age of the victim.
Sexual Battery With a Deadly Weapon
Sexual battery with a deadly weapon is a crime that occurs when somebody has non-consensual anal, vaginal or oral contact with somebody else as the result of the threatened or real use of a lethal weapon.
Fort Lauderdale Lewd and Lascivious Crime Lawyers
Lewd and lascivious crimes are those that do not reach the level of sexual assault or child molestation but still involve sexual contact. For instance, these laws prohibit lewd and lascivious exhibition of the genitals, conduct involving inappropriate touching, battery, and molestation. However, these are not the only laws in Florida that prohibit this type of conduct, as laws against lewd and lascivious behavior and acts generally prohibit residents from committing non-consensual acts of a sexual nature on victims of any age.
Fort Lauderdale Indecent Exposure / Exposure of Sexual Organ Attorneys
Florida law prohibits the exhibition of the genitals in public places, so those who do so can be prosecuted for indecent exposure. In fact, a person can actually be charged with this even if they were on their own property when the exposure occurred, but only if they exposed themselves in a lewd or lascivious manner and were aware that they could be seen by others.
Voyeurism Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale
When a person secretly views someone else while that individual is changing his or her clothes or is otherwise exposing him or herself, the viewer can be charged with voyeurism. However, a defendant can only be convicted if the viewing took place in a private or public place where the other party could reasonably have expected privacy and if the viewing was done in a licentious or lewd manner. Voyeurism is usually charged as a misdemeanor, although the offense could be upgraded if the defendant is accused of using a recording device.
Registering as a Sex Offender in Florida
The state of Florida legally compels all sex offenders and sexual predators to adhere to several sex offender registration requirements, including:
- Arriving in person to the sheriff’s office to file within 48 hours of either
- Establishing a temporary or permanent residence in the state of Florida
- Being released from jail or prison
- Physically going to register at a local branch of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles within 48 hours of initial registration with the sheriff’s office
- Physically showing up to the sheriff’s office to re-register in the following circumstances:
- Twice annually as legally required for all sex offenders
- Four times annually as legally required for all sexual predators, special case sex offenders, as well as all juvenile sexual offenders
- Once every 30 days for any sex offender or sexual predator who has only provided information for a transient residence
- Reporting any new or changed information like a new address, phone number, place of employment etc. since the last time you registered.
Penalties for Failing to Register
Neglecting to register yourself as a sex offender or a sexual predator is charged as a third-degree felony, which is punishable by as long as five years in state prison, five years of supervised probation, and a fine of as much as $5,000.
According to Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, neglecting to register yourself as a sex offender or a sexual predator is rated a Level 7 offense and, even with no previous criminal history, the judge would be obligated to sentence someone who has been convicted of failure to register to a minimum prison sentence of 21 months.
If you or some you love have been arrested and charged with a sex crime in the Fort Lauderdale area of Florida, especially one involving a minor child, it is in your best interest to hire legal representation from one of the accomplished and professional criminal defense attorneys at Musca Law as soon as possible.
We offer a free, no-obligation, and confidential initial consultation with potential clients, from which we will be better able to advise you on your best course of legal action. Don’t hesitate to call us today!