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Fort Walton Beach Sex Crime Defense Lawyers

Of the many types of sex offenses in Florida, those allegedly committed against children are considered to be the most serious. For this reason, these types of offenses are often aggressively investigated and prosecuted, even to the detriment of a defendant’s rights, making it critical for those who have been charged with a sex crime involving a child to consult with an experienced Fort Walton Beach sex crime defense lawyer who can ensure that their rights are protected.

Fort Walton Beach Child Molestation Attorney

Fort Walton Beach child molestation falls under the purview of Fla. Stat. 800.04(5), which defines molestation as the intentional touching of the breasts, genitals, or buttocks, whether clothed or unclothed, of someone under the age of 16 years old in a lewd or lascivious manner. This statute also covers situations where a person is accused of forcing a minor to engage in this type of conduct.

All offenses involving allegations of sexual abuse against children are charged as felonies, although the age of the victim and the offender respectively will have a significant impact when determining the severity of the punishment. For instance, when a victim was 12 years of age or older, but has not yet reached 16 years of age, and the alleged offender was less than 18 years old, he or she faces a third-degree felony with a minimum three years imprisonment. When a victim was under 12 years of age, however, the defendant can be charged with a second-degree felony, even if he or she was also under 18 years of age. Similarly, if a victim was between the ages of 12 and 16 years old and the offender was 18 years of age or older, the latter can expect to be charged with a second-degree felony, punishable by a minimum sentence of four and one-fourth years in prison. The most serious charges are reserved for situations where the victim was under the age of 12 years old and the offender was over 18. In these cases, defendants face life felony charges, punishable by a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.

With so much at stake, raising a strong defense to child molestation charges is important. Possible defenses include:
  • Law enforcement officers violated the defendant’s right to be free of unlawful searches and seizures
  • The defendant is the victim of mistaken identity or false accusations;
  • The defendant did not have a lewd or lascivious intent; or
  • The alleged victim was not a minor.
However, there are certain defenses that are not available to defendants, including that the alleged victim has a history of sexual profligacy, the minor consented to the acts, or the minor lied about his or her age.

Fort Walton Beach Rape Attorney

When an offense exceeds the bounds of child molestation, a defendant can be charged with rape, which falls under the category of sexual battery contained in Fla. Stat. 794.011. Unlike molestation, which involves unlawful touching, sexual battery occurs when a defendant unlawfully penetrates a minor in a sexual manner. Adults convicted of committing or even attempting to commit a sexual battery against someone under the age of 12 years old face capital felony charges, while those under the age of 18 years old who commit this offense against someone under the age of 12 years old face life in prison. Charges can also be enhanced if the defendant allegedly used a weapon, force, or drugged the victim.

Fort Walton Beach Indecency with a Child Lawyer

Under Fla. Stat. 800.04, a person can be charged with the offense of indecency with a child, if he or she took part in lewd or lascivious conduct with a child. This type of offense usually falls somewhere between indecent exposure and molestation or sexual assault and includes exposing the genitals or performing a sexual act in the presence of a child. However, once the actions escalate to intentional touching, charges will usually be enhanced to molestation. Indecency with a child is charged as a second-degree felony, although this offense can be downgraded to a third-degree felony if the defendant is also a minor. Like those charged with sexual battery, defendants accused of indecency with a child cannot argue that the victim consented to the activity or that he or she had a reputation for promiscuity. Similarly, defendants are prohibited from presenting evidence that a minor lied about his or her age or that the defendant legitimately believed that the victim was an adult.

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