In Sarasota, Florida, sex offenses are aggressively investigated and prosecuted, especially if the allegations involve children. For this reason, it is critical for those who have been unfairly charged with a sex crime to begin formulating a strong defense early in the legal process.
Sarasota Child Pornography Law
Crimes involving child pornography are perhaps the most well-known types of sex offense. This is largely due to the fact that so many different activities fall under the broad prohibition against promoting child pornography, including possession, distribution, manufacturing, production, and transmission. While all of these charges are serious, inducing the sexual performance of a child has some of the most severe consequences, as defendants who are accused of this offense are also often charged with manufacturing and producing pornographic images. In fact, anyone found in possession of three or more copies of the same pornographic image is automatically presumed to be involved in the production of child pornography. Although arguing consent is never a valid option for defendants accused of a child pornography-related offense, it is possible to avoid conviction by proving that the defendant did not know that the images existed or had never intentionally viewed them.
Solicitation Crimes in Sarasota
In Florida, entering into a transaction where money is exchanged for a sexual act is prohibited. Referred to as solicitation of prostitution, these offenses are initially charged as misdemeanors, although charges can be upgraded to a felony if the other party was a minor. This is true even if the transaction occurred online and the defendant was not aware that the other individual was underage or even if the person was not actually a minor, but was a police officer conducting an internet sting operation to apprehend those involved in computer sex crimes. Similarly, it is not necessary to exchange money for a person to be charged with solicitation.
Sarasota Child Molestation Law
A person can be charged with child molestation in Florida if he or she is accused of intentionally touching the private parts of a minor in a lewd or lascivious manner or forcing a minor to touch him or her in the same way. In fact, a defendant does not need to have touched a minor to be charged with child molestation, as Fla. Stat. 800.04 also criminalizes committing lewd acts not only upon the body of but also in the presence of a child. Although any conduct that incites lust or is intended to gratify sexual desire falls under the definition of lewd or lascivious actions, Florida law specifically states that lewd or lascivious conduct also includes:
Engaging in sexual activity with a minor who is older than 12 years old, but younger than 16 years old;
Forcing, enticing, or encouraging a minor to engage in sexual activity.
In these cases, sexual activity includes intercourse or any vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by a sexual organ or another object. Because child molestation involves minors, defendants cannot argue that the other party consented to the activity or lied about his or her age.
Sexual Assault in Sarasota
Like rape, which has no official definition in Florida, sexual assault is prosecuted under the state’s sexual battery law, which prohibits non-consensual intercourse, groping, or sexual abuse. Available defenses include arguing that the other party voluntarily consented to the activity, mistaken identity, or that the evidence against the defendant was illegally obtained.
Lewd and Lascivious Crimes
Florida’s lewd and lascivious crime statutes cover a much broader range of activity than other sex offense-related laws. In fact, this law forbids lewd or lascivious exhibition, as well as, conduct, battery, and molestation. While a conviction for exhibition requires proof that a person exposed him or herself in the presence of a minor, the other offenses are broadly defined to include lewd and lascivious behavior and acts not only upon children, but also adults.
Sexual Battery Law in Sarasota
Sexual battery charges involve allegations that a person had non-consensual intercourse with another individual. This includes situations where a defendant used physical force, drugged or threatened the victim, or took advantage of someone with a mental defect. Proving that the other party was competent and gave voluntary consent is one of the strongest arguments that a defendant can raise on his or her behalf.
Indecent Exposure / Exposure of Sexual Organs
In Florida, a person can only be convicted of indecent exposure under Fla. Stat. 800.03 if there is evidence that he or she exposed his or her genitals in a public place. Before a conviction can be obtained prosecutors must also prove that the defendant had a lewd, lustful, or lascivious intent, which usually requires eyewitness testimony to establish.
Voyeurism in Sarasota
Although many people associate the term voyeurism with recording or filming another person without his or her knowledge, this offense actually includes any type of viewing if the person is in a place where he or she could reasonably expect a degree of privacy. Like other sex crimes on this list, defendants must have had a lewd or lascivious intent to be prosecuted for voyeurism.
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