St. Augustine Sex Crime Defense Lawyers
Like any other type of criminal offense, certain sex crimes are considered more serious than others. Solicitation of a sex worker, for instance, is a misdemeanor crime in Florida, which means that those who are convicted are not required to register as sex offenders. However, even misdemeanor sex crimes should be taken seriously by those who are charged with them, so if you have been arrested for a sex crime, no matter how minor, it is important to speak with an experienced St. Augustine sex crime defense lawyer who can explain your legal options and help you formulate a strong defense.
Potential Defenses Against Sex Crime Charges
No matter what type of sex crime charges you have been charged with, the state of Florida is required to establish proof of each component of the crime if they hope to be able to earn a conviction. At Musca Law, we will fully examine and dispute the case that the state feels they have against you. This includes the statement of the alleged victim and any other statements from any witnesses there might have been.
A criminal defense is commonly built around factors such as:
- False accusations;
- False witness testimony;
- Flawed forensic testing techniques and results;
- Police, prosecution, or witness prejudice;
- Mistaken identity or a faulty police line-up; and/or
- Improper misleading witness interviews.
The question of consent is one that is frequently raised during when allegations of a sexual nature are made against someone. Our clients often will admit to engaging in the sexual act but insist that the sex was consensual. Usually, as they are questioned more and more, the story that was told to police and to attorneys by the alleged victim varies as the case moves closer to trial, and the possible outcome of the accusation this person is attempting to levy against you starts to become very real.
Sex-related criminal acts that are committed against persons under the age of 18 are what are known as being “strict liability” crimes. This means that no defense you offer up for your actions will be accepted. Even in cases where the minor lied about their age or even offered a fake ID as proof, the adult is still considered guilty. In every single one of these kinds of cases, consent is completely pointless because Florida state law holds an underaged child as being deficient in their ability to understand the situation, and therefore unable to give their consent.
Ultimately, sex crime cases usually come down to which person’s account of the events that took place is more convincing. In most cases, there is always an occasion to demonstrate to the prosecutor that justice would be better served by creating a lesser charge and/or reducing the proposed sentence. If it is determined that the state’s argument does not support the accusations against you, then the charges against you will quite possibly be dropped or defeated at trial.
St. Augustine Solicitation of a Sex Worker
Fla. Stat. 796.07 strictly prohibits not only the act of prostitution, but also the solicitation of sex workers as well. This means that anyone who is arrested for requesting, soliciting, enticing, procuring, or bribing another person to engage in prostitution, lewdness, or assignation can be charged with solicitation. This is true even when the person accused of solicitation is not actually a prostitute. Similarly, the sex worker being solicited does not even have to be willing to commit to the exchange. As long as an offer of payment is made, the offeror can be charged with solicitation.
Solicitation is categorized as a misdemeanor sex offense, which means that it is usually only punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine and most first-time offenders are able to avoid jail time entirely. Second violations, however, are considered much more serious and so are charged as a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years imprisonment. Subsequent violations are penalized even more harshly and defendants may also be required to perform community service, attend a class about the effects of prostitution, undergo STD testing, and pay hefty fines to the Department of Children and Families.
With so much at stake for those who are accused of this crime, it is important that defendants raise a strong defense. In some cases, this could involve arguing that the defendant was the victim of mistaken identity, an argument that is especially successful in situations where no photographs or video surveillance records exist to substantiate the accusation. It is also possible to introduce evidence that mistakes were made during the investigation by law enforcement, which resulted in a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights.
In the event that the person solicited was a minor, even a first time offender will be charged with a second-degree felony. However, if there is evidence that a defendant didn’t know that the solicited party was a minor or was not purposely searching for an underage sex worker, he or she could have the charge reduced to a third-degree felony. Many solicitation of a minor cases involve the use of the internet, which is prohibited by Fla. Stat. 847.0135, as well as sting operations involving undercover officers. For this reason, some defendants are able to avoid conviction if they can prove that they were entrapped by police officers into committing the offense.
St. Augustine Indecent Exposure Attorney
Indecent exposure is another less serious sex offense that is often charged in Florida and involves the purposeful display, exhibition, or exposure of the sexual organs in a public place. A person can only be convicted of this offense if prosecutors can prove that the defendant intended to and actually did expose his or her sexual organs in a lewd manner, and also did so in a public place. However, it is also true that a person can be convicted of indecent exposure if he or she was on private property, but only if that individual knew that others would be able to see the exposure. In these cases, to satisfy the element of intent, prosecutors must demonstrate that a third party saw and was offended by the defendant’s actions.
Indecent exposure is considered a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida, although the charge can be enhanced to a felony if the defendant was an adult and allegedly exposed him or herself to someone under the age of 16 years old. In these cases, defendants can be charged with a second-degree felony, even if the interaction took place online. In the event that the person accused of the exposure was also a minor, however, the charge could be reduced to a third-degree felony. The best defense to this type of charge is a lack of lewd intent on the part of the defendant, as this is a crucial aspect in the prosecution of indecent exposure.
Sex Offender vs Sexual Predator: Legal Definitions
While those who are labeled as sex offenders and sexual predators are both legally forced to register with Florida authorities, their distinctions are very diverse in terms of how they are defined by Florida law.
In the state of Florida, a sexual offender is someone who has been convicted of a sex crime such as being in possession of child pornography or enticing a child under 18 years of age to participate in prostitution.
A sexual predator, however, is a sex offender who is also:
- convicted of a first-degree felony that is associated with sexual misconduct
- convicted of two second-degree felonies that are associated with sexual misconduct
What all of this means is that if someone displays violent actions or commits the most heinous form of offense in terms of sexual conduct, they may end up not only being legally obligated to register as a sex offender but to also be classified as a predator.
Anyone who is made to register with local police as a sex offender will also be required to adhere to stringent rules and restrictions. Sexual predators, however, will generally find that their rules, restrictions, and requirements for reporting to the proper authorities are a lot more rigid and will stay in place for a greater amount of time than those who are not labeled as a sexual predator.
The sentences that accompany being found guilty of a major felony linked to sexual misconduct will be disastrous for anybody. It might be plausible, however, to lessen the effect of a conviction or a plea by pursuing charges that have been reduced and questioning the aspects of any and all accusations that might end with increased penalties and restrictions.
Sexually motivated crimes often stir up an impassioned response from the surrounding community, officials in law enforcement and the families of those who were affected by both the offense and its resulting verdict. Sex crime charges clearly have the capacity to segue into an entire lifetime full of repercussions and serious consequences, including a criminal record, serving time in prison, and adding your name to the sex offender registry. Even if you are absolutely 100% sure of your innocence in the events in question, you are going to need an experienced St. Augustine sex crime defense attorney who is able to focus on the facts of your case, the protection of your rights, and the building of your defense.
Removal From the Sex Offender Registry
Any sex crime offender who is required to register, typically remains on the national sex offender registry for the rest of his or her life as mandated by law. The singular exception to this rule is if and when the offender has been awarded a full pardon, or the offender has had their conviction set aside in a post-conviction trial for any crime that meets the guidelines for identifying the person as a sexual offender or sexual predator for the purposes of registration.
Some sexual offenders might be allowed to have their names excluded from the sex offenders registry, and may have their legal requirement to register as one lifted provided that the offender:
- Has been legally discharged from prison or under legal supervision for 25 consecutive years;
- Has not perpetrated any misdemeanor or any felony offense within that time frame; or
- Was ultimately found not guilty of the offenses committed as an adult.
The penalties for sexual battery/rape are generally considered alongside other factors, such as the age of the offender, the age of the victim, and whether or not any aggravating circumstances were present. It is also important to note that, in keeping with Florida laws, every single person who is convicted of sexual battery is required to be labeled as either a sexual predator or a sexual offender and will therefore be obligated to comply with all of the state’s sexual predator and sexual offender registration laws for the rest of their lives. In addition to all of this, the Adam Walsh Act mandates that any person who is convicted of sexual battery is ineligible to request their removal from state and/or federal sexual offender registration lists at any point in time because the nature of the offense was non-consensual sexual interaction.
Sadly, this means that if a young teenager, for example, is found guilty of the crime of sexual battery, allegations of date rape, or rape under dubious or questionable circumstances, they will be a marked and registered sex offender for the rest of their life.
If you or someone that you love has been arrested and charged with sexual battery, sexual assault, or any other form of sex crime in St. Augustine, Florida, the steps that you next choose to take in your defense could determine the rest of your life. You should challenge sex crime charges of any type with the help and support of a skilled and accomplished criminal defense attorney one who will protect your rights and stay in your corner from start to finish.
The legal team here at Musca Law is able to accommodate you with a loyal team of defense attorneys and a strategic defense to counter any sex crime charges that you may currently be facing. Contact us today for a realistic evaluation of your case during a free, no-obligation, and confidential initial consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.