Lewd or Lascivious Molestation Attorneys in Florida
Florida Sex Crimes Attorneys can Defend Your Case
In Florida, individuals who are charged with crimes against children often face steep and severe penalties. This is especially true in cases where individuals are charged with lewd or lascivious molestation.
Under Florida law, Lewd and Lascivious Molestation are acts that include the touching of a minor under the age of 16, underneath their clothes. Individuals who touch a minor on their private parts, including their buttocks, genital area, or breasts, or make the minor touch themselves in a lewd or lascivious manner, can be charged under Florida child molestation laws.
Charges of molestation can have an immediate impact on a person’s reputation, career, personal life, and more. Unfortunately, there are many cases when individuals are wrongfully accused of these actions yet they are forced to deal with a plethora of negative consequences. It is imperative for individuals who are accused of lewd or lascivious molestation in Florida to contact an aggressive defense attorney in Florida as soon as possible.
Contact us anytime, 24/7 for more information about your case or for representation backed by over 150 years of combined legal experience.
What Is The Legal Definition Of Molestation In Florida?
The state of Florida defines the action of molestation as the lewd or lascivious acts of sexual contact, such as touching another person underneath their clothing or touching their private parts. Individuals can also be charged with this crime if they have a minor, under the age of 16, touch their private parts in any lewd or lascivious manner.
Successful Defenses Against Lewd and Lascivious Molestation Charges in Florida
Sexual misconduct charges are incredibly serious allegations in Florida. Thus, if you are under investigation for sexual misconduct such as lewd or lascivious molestation charges, you must contact an aggressive, experienced, and successful criminal defense attorney in Florida for help immediately. You need to start building a defense as soon as possible once you learn about the potential for criminal charges or you are a suspect that you will face lewd or lascivious molestation charges. If you wait to see what happens, you could lose out on your chance to preserve exculpatory evidence and construct a case that proves your innocence.
The notion that a person charged with a crime must prove their innocence is nonsensical in the United States because people who are charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty. In fact, the defendant, that is the person who is charged with a crime and brought before the court for trial, has no obligation to produce any evidence. The defendant does not even have to cross-examine a witness if he or she does not want to do so, although candidly, that would be incredibly risky. Notwithstanding the risks involved, the prosecution always has the ultimate burden of proof and it never shifts to the defendant to prove his or her innocence.
Sexual assault charges are a different breed of criminal allegations. In Florida, the law tends to favor the accuser. Law enforcement officers, state’s attorneys, and victim advocates will take the accuser’s story at face value, even if there are huge holes in the evidence. The police and prosecutors will believe the alleged victim’s word that she or he was molested and then rely on her or his statement to commence a prosecution.
Some stories alleged by molestation victims are shaky. Many times, molestation charges arise after the victim delays reporting the crime. The alleged victim could delay reporting for years. Therefore, there is no physical evidence to corroborate the victim’s allegations — or exculpate the accused. On numerous other occasions, the victim has a tremendous motive to lie about sexual molestation charges. Police and prosecutors rarely go through the victim’s history to determine why there is a motive for the alleged victim to lie. Exposing the alleged victim’s motive to lie will undermine that prosecution’s case, and, in some instances, convince the state’s attorney or prosecutor not to file charges.
Without an accomplished Florida lewd or lascivious molestation defense lawyer by your side from the very beginning, you will not have an opportunity to refute the victim’s allegations before the prosecutor decides to file charges. Experience dictates that the prosecution rarely dismisses cases after the charges are filed. Instead, state’s attorneys want to take the case to trial and “let a jury figure it out,” rather than do what is just and dismiss a weak case. Conversely, persuading the prosecutor that the case is weak and prosecuting the defendant would be unjust is more easily accomplished before formal charges are filed.
Punishment For Lewd Or Lascivious Molestation In Florida
Individuals who are convicted of this crime in Florida can face an array of negative legal consequences. These consequences can have a life-long impact on them by impacting their ability to maintain or gain employment, be around other children, or even be in certain areas.
Individuals who are under the age of 18 and charged with lewd or lascivious molestation against a minor between the ages of 12 and 16 years can face penalties, such as:
- A felony charge up to the third degree;
- They may face up to five years in prison; and
- They may have to pay up to $5,000 in fines.
If the offender is over the age of 18 and the minor is between 12 and 16 years, then they face penalties, such as:
- A felony charge up to the third degree;
- Up to 15-years in prison; and
- Up to $10,000 in fines.
If the offender is over the age of 18 and the minor is under the age of 12, the offender can face felony charges that remain on their permanent record, as well as a prison sentence of up to life in prison.
In addition to criminal charges, those convicted can face indirect consequences that can have a detrimental impact on their lives as well. Quite often, those convicted are forced to register as a sex offender annually, which can make it difficult for them to secure employment, find housing, maintain professional relationships, and can even impact their personal relationships.
If you are accused of committing lewd or lascivious molestation in Florida, it is imperative for you to contact a defense attorney as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.
Types Molestation Charges In Florida
Under Florida law, there are an array of molestation charges a person can face. Some of these include:
Lascivious Acts: Individuals can be charged with lascivious acts if they commit sexual acts in public or in the presence of a minor. These actions are considered a major sex crime under Florida law and are generally pursued aggressively. It is very common for federal agents and state prosecutors to press for the maximum sentence for individuals caught in these acts, even if there is less-than solid evidence against the accused.
Under Florida law, the following are considered lascivious acts:
- Touching of genitals;
- Soliciting a minor to touch genitals;
- Touching the breasts or buttocks;
- Soliciting a minor to touch the breasts or buttocks;
- Performing a sexual act in front of a minor;
- Rubbing of genitals through clothing;
- Masturbation; and
- Indecent exposure.
Individuals who are charged with this crime can face an array of consequences. If the offender is over the age of 18, they can face between 2 and 15 years in prison as well as felony charges up to the second degree. Individuals under the age of 18 who commit these acts can face between 2 and 5 years in prison and up to a third degree felony charge.
Lewd & Lascivious Behavior: Under Florida Law, individuals engage in lewd or lascivious behavior if they are not married yet live under the same roof and when others know about their living situation. Individuals who are convicted of this crime can face misdemeanor charges in the second degree and spend between 5 and 60 days in prison.
Although these charges are not as severe as other types of molestation, they can have a detrimental impact on a person’s reputation.
Lewd or Lascivious Battery: Individuals can be charged with lewd or lascivious battery under Florida Law if they forcefully engage in sexual acts with someone between the ages of 12 and 16 years. Even if the minor provides consent, individuals can be convicted of this crime as minors are not legally able to provide consent for such acts.
Individuals who are charged with lewd or lascivious battery can face felony charges in the third degree, including prison terms between 10 and 16 years, fines up to $5,000, and mandatory lifetime sex offender registration. These fines and sentences are increased when offenders face multiple counts.
The definition of lewd or lascivious, or sexual battery is broad. In Florida, lewd or lascivious battery is engaging in sexual activity with a person who has attained the age of twelve but is younger than sixteen years of age, according to §800.04(4) of the Florida Statutes. This particular charge is frequently known as statutory rape. However, forcing, enticing, or encouraging a person younger than sixteen to perform acts of sadomasochism, bestiality, prostitution, or another act of sexual activity also constitutes a lewd or lascivious battery under Florida law.
Florida law defines lewd or lascivious battery as a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony is punishable in a Florida state penitentiary for up to 15 years, according to §775.082 of the Florida Statutes. However, the penalty could range up to 30 years or even life if the prosecution treats the charges as a first-degree felony based on the nature and circumstances of the incident. The prosecution can charge the accused with a first-degree felony if he or she was once convicted of sexual battery against a minor, or a lewd act against a minor, among other criminal acts.
The punishment for lewd or lascivious battery depends on several factors, including the severity of the offense, the previous criminal history of the defendant, if any, and whether the victim sustained physical or emotional injuries, among other factors.
Lewd or Lascivious Conduct: Under Florida law, this crime is defined as the inappropriate and intentional touching of a minor who is less than 16 years of age as well as the act of forcing a minor to touch another person in an inappropriate way.
Individuals who are over 18 years of age face penalties such as up to second degree felony charges and between 2 and 15 years in prison. Offenders under the age of 18 face charges in the third degree and between 2 and 5 years.
Florida statutes §800.04(5) defines lewd or lascivious conduct. Under subsection five, a person commits lewd or lascivious conduct when he or she intentionally touches a male or female who has not reached the age of sixteen years. A person can also be convicted of lewd or lascivious conduct for soliciting a person who is younger than sixteen to perform a lewd or lascivious act upon another.
A person who is at least eighteen years of age when committing the alleged lewd or lascivious act could be sentenced up to fifteen years in the Florida state prison. However, a person under eighteen who commits a lewd or lascivious act will be punished as a third-degree felony and face as many as five years in the state penitentiary.
Lewd or lascivious exhibition is also a crime in Florida. Section 800.04(7) criminalizes masturbation, exposing genitals in a lewd or lascivious way, or commits another act the does not involve sexual or physical contact but includes sadomasochism, bestiality, or simulation of a sexual act in the presence of a person who is younger than sixteen years of age.
Like lewd or lascivious conduct, lewd or lascivious exhibition is a second-degree felony, punishable up to fifteen years in the state prison. Furthermore, a person under eighteen years of age who is convicted of lewd or lascivious exhibition is guilty of a third-degree felony and could face up to five years in the Florida state prison. Breastfeeding is not a criminal in Florida, even though the act technically satisfies the elements of lewd or lascivious exhibition.
Lewd or lascivious conduct is a third-degree felony under Florida law. Therefore, any individual who masturbates, exposes his or her genital area in a lewd or lascivious manner, or commits a sexual act that does not involve touching of the victim including sadomasochistic acts, bestiality, or simulation of a sex act in the presence of a person who is an employee of a jail or correctional institution constitutes a third-degree felony. The definition of employee under this section refers to correctional officers, law enforcement officers, and private contract employees such as medical staff, IT personnel, or other vendors.
Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition: Individuals can face charges of lewd or lascivious exhibition if they perform sexual acts in front of minors who are under the age of 16. These activities do not involve any kind of sexual or physical contact with a child. Instead, the act of exposing a child’s mind to sexual activity is a punishable offense.
If the offender is under 18 years old, they can face up to a third degree felony and between 2 and 5 years in prison. Offenders over the age of 18 can face up to a second degree felony charge and between 2 and 15 years in prison.
The legal terms lewd and lascivious are outmoded, even though they are still used today. Lewd or lascivious conduct describes actions that are licentious (another outmoded word meaning unrestrained sexually), unchaste, wicked, lustful, or sensual. The acts violate public decency and are offensive to many people, regardless of age.
Lewd or Lascivious Molestation: Under Florida law, a person can be convicted of lewd or lascivious molestation if they touch under the clothing of a minor who is under 16 years of age. These acts include the touching of a minor on private parts or making the minor touch the offender in a lewd or lascivious manner.
Individual under the age of 18 who are convicted of this crime against a minor between 12 and 16 years of age, can face up to a felony in the third degree, five years in prison, and up to $5,000 in fines. If a person is over the age of 18 and the minor is between 12 and 16 years, they can face up to a third degree felony charge, up to 15 years in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines.
If an adult over 18 is convicted of this crime on a minor under 12 years of age, they can face up to life in prison and a felony charge on their record for life.
Individuals who are charged with any of these crimes can benefit immensely by hiring a well-versed criminal defense attorney in Florida to protect their legal rights.
Florida’s Legal Definitions under Title XLVI, Chapter 800 — Lewdness; Indecent Exposure
Chapter 800 of the Florida states define certain criminal conduct. Without these definitions, the law would be unconstitutionally vague and be otherwise unenforceable. Under Florida law, sexual activity means an oral, vaginal, or anal penetration of, or union with, the sexual organs of another, or vaginal or anal penetration of a person with another object, except if the act is committed during a bona fide medical procedure.
The word “consent” is a term that must be carefully defined. Consent is not mere acquiescence to demand or compliance with a threat. Instead, consent under Florida law means that the person made an intelligent, voluntary, and knowing decision to engage in sexual activity.
Coercion, which nullifies any assertions of consent, is a person’s attempt to gain acquiescence, compliance, or cooperation of another by bribing, exploiting, using threats of the force of violence, or intimidation against the other.
Another important term to understand so that the operative words in the Florida statutes are sufficiently definite is “victim.” Florida law defines victim as a person who suffered a criminal act committed upon them by another, whether completed or attempted, or who has made a report to the appropriate law enforcement authorities about the charge.
The Difference Between Lewd or Lascivious Battery And Sexual Battery
Individuals can be charged with either of these crimes, but it is important to know the difference. In legal terms, individuals can be charged with sexual battery against an individual of any age. On the other hand, individuals can only be charged with lewd or lascivious battery if the victim is between the ages of 12 and 16.
Additionally, sexual battery prohibits forceful sex with victims of any age whereas lewd or lascivious battery addresses sexual contact a person may have had with a minor even if they gave consent.
Defenses Against Lewd And Lascivious Molestation In Florida
Individuals who are accused of these crimes can argue various legal defenses to have their charges dismissed or reduced. There are some cases where offenders are able to argue various circumstances in their case. Some of these include:
Romeo and Juliet Exception: The only exception to the mandatory registration as a sex offender falls under the Romeo and Juliet exception in Florida. This law allows certain individuals to petition the court in an effort to be excluded from the registry. These individuals are only able to petition for exclusion from registration requirements if their case meets qualifying requirements for eligibility.
Mitigating Circumstances: In some cases, particularly those in which an offender faces a second or third degree felony, the court can deviate from the minimum sentence requirements. These circumstances must present adequate evidence that any of the following exist:
- The child initiated the acts, willingly participated, was the aggressor, or the provoker of the incident;
- The defendant requires specialized treatment due to a mental disorder; or
- The defendant is to be sentenced as a youthful offender.
In addition to the pretrial and trial defenses, individuals can also claim that the allegations are false or that they lack lewd intent.
Quite often, individuals who claim false allegations must present evidence that the accuser was manipulating the child (typically an angry parent), that the accuser suffers from a mental illness, or that the mentally ill parents influenced the child.
The defense for lack of lewd intent must show that there is no lewd or lascivious intent when engaging in the contact.
Individuals who are accused of lewd or lascivious crimes in Florida should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to help with their case.
Other Crimes of Sexual Misconduct in Florida
A voyeur, also known as a peeping Tom, is someone who, with a lewd, lascivious, or indecent intent, watches a person secretly who is in a house, dwelling, or conveyance, such as a car, in which the person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Voyeurism is a crime in Florida and is punishable as a first-degree misdemeanor. In Florida, a person convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor could be incarcerated for up to one year and face as much as a $1,000.00 fine.
Subsequent offenses of voyeurism are more severely punished. A person convicted or adjudicated a delinquent at least two other times for voyeurism faces a third-degree felony conviction. A third-degree felony conviction carries with it a maximum sentence of up to five years in state prison and up to a $5,000.00 fine.
Sexting is a crime in Florida as well. The crime of sexting in Florida involves minors who use a computer, smartphone, tablet, or another electronic device to electronically transmit data or distribute photographs or videos depicting a person fully or partially nude that is harmful to a minor. A minor is guilty if he or she possesses a photograph or video depicting nudity that is harmful to a minor.
The first offense for sexting in Florida is a non-criminal offense. The court will order the minor to complete eight hours of community service or pay a $60.00 fine in lieu of the community service requirement. The judge can also order the minor to attend educational training in addition to, or in lieu of paying a fine or performing community service.
A subsequent conviction for sexting could result in a one-year jail sentence and a fine of up to $1,000.00 because a subsequent offense of sexting is a first-degree misdemeanor. A third conviction for sexting is a third-degree felony, which carries a potential five-year prison sentence, and a fine up to $5,000.00.
Minors who innocently receive a message with a picture of someone in the nude is not guilty of sexting if the minor reports the photo to his or her guardian, the police, or school official, and does not forward the photo or video to anyone else.
Sending or receiving multiple photos or videos in a 24-hour time span is only one crime, and not one crime for every photo or video sent or received within one day.
Certain computer transmissions violate Florida law as well. Essentially, a person is guilty of lewd or lascivious exhibition if the person masturbates, exposes genitalia, or simulates a sex act, including a sadomasochistic act, or an act of bestiality, to a person live over a computer internet service knowing, or should know, that the recipient of the transmission is younger than sixteen years of age.
A person accused of violating this law cannot raise a defense that the person who is the recipient of the lewd or lascivious computer transmission was a police officer, even if the police officer posed as a person who is younger than sixteen.
A person convicted of committing lewd or lascivious exhibition through a computer transmission is guilty of a second-degree felony, if age eighteen or older, or a third-degree felony if younger than eighteen.
Traveling to Meet a Minor is also a crime in Florida. Florida law prohibits a person traveling in the state of Florida, into the state of Florida, or out of the state of Florida, to meet a minor or attempt to meet a minor for the expressed purpose of committing a criminal act or engaging in sexual contact with a person who is a child or is believed by the perpetrator to be a child. The crime of traveling to meet a minor is a second-degree felony under Florida law.
The crimes discussed above not only carry the potential for a long prison term, but also carry the specter of having to serve that sentence day-for-day because Florida law does not allow “gain time” for sexual offenses. Moreover, a person convicted of a lewd or lascivious act will need to register as a sex offender and be subject to a litany of onerous probationary terms. Mandatory probationary terms include reporting to probation when required, allowing the probation officer to visit you anywhere, hold suitable employment, live in a particular residence, refrain from violating any law, not associate with others engaged in criminal activity, pay child support to dependents, perform community service, pay costs and attorney’s fees, pay restitution if ordered, pay restitution for any medical service provided to you while incarcerated, not carrying, possessing or owning a firearm or weapon unless the probation officer grants permission, take random drug and alcohol screens, do not associate with people or visit places that are drug involved or sell intoxicants, give a DNA sample, allow the probation officer to take a photo of you, and participate in court-ordered rehabilitation programs.
Even though the person convicted of lewd or lascivious conduct paid his or her “debt to society” by suffering incarceration, the person is not truly free until satisfying all terms and conditions of his or her probation. Therefore, launching a successful defense to these charges must begin as soon as possible.
A successful defense begins with a thorough investigation from the perspective of the accused or suspect. Interviewing witnesses, preserving or obtaining critical evidence like photographs, text messages, or recordings of phone messages, and speaking with the alleged victim with her or his consent, could help convince the prosecutor and investigating police officers not to file charges.
However, if the prosecution team files charges, the investigation continues and one of the most important things to do is to develop a motive for the alleged victim to fabricate the allegations. People frequently make up stories to get people charged with sex crimes. Everyone, no matter what station they hold in life, is susceptible to facing sexual misconduct charges. However, many parents and boyfriends, and girlfriends to a lesser extent, find themselves defending against salacious allegations of sexual misconduct.
There are four common reasons people fabricate sexual assault charges. People lie about being victims of sexual assault to garner attention, to act upon jealousy, because an angry parent manipulated a child, or a mental illness plays a role in fabricating allegations.
In Florida, there are various defenses that cannot be argued in cases involving lewd or lascivious molestation. These arguments often include:
Consent: Individuals cannot argue against charges based on the consent of a child because under Florida law, children are not able to legally consent to sexual acts.
Ignorance of the child’s age: Individuals cannot argue that a child lied about their age or that the offender had no knowledge of the child’s age during the time of the act. These are invalid arguments in the eyes of the court. Even cases involving two minors between the ages of 12 and 16 years of age can result in criminal charges.
It is crucial for the accused to contact a criminal defense attorney in Florida to help with their case as soon as possible, in order to determine the most effective defense strategy based on the specific circumstances.
Many people think that a mistaken belief about a person’s age or that the person is a sex worker, for example, is a defense to lewd or lascivious charges in Florida. They are not. Florida law specifically prohibits a defendant from arguing mistaken age or character of the victim as a defense. This is true even if the victim lies about his or her age. Furthermore, the victim’s consent is not a defense under most of the crimes discussed above because the victims of those crimes are minors, and therefore, cannot consent. Consequently, even if the victim agreed to the act, the defendant cannot claim consent as an affirmative defense.
Florida Lewd and lascivious Crimes Attorney
Being convicted of lewd and lascivious crimes in Florida can result in extensive prison time for both state and federal violations. Individuals who are convicted of these crimes face legal repercussions and they often face an array of negative social consequences as well. Those charged with these crimes can benefit greatly by contacting a reputable lewd and lascivious crimes attorney in Florida, who can help them fight to protect their legal rights.
Unfortunately, there are many times when innocent individuals are wrongfully accused of lewd and lascivious crimes. If you or a loved one are facing such charges, it is imperative for you to contact a highly skilled and experienced Florida lewd and lascivious crimes attorney to support you in your case.
With over 150-years of combined legal experience, attorneys at Musca Law have helped countless individuals fight the accusations against them. Our knowledgeable attorneys will closely examine the specifics of your case to help you build a strong defense to help you get your charges reduced or dismissed.
Working with our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys will ensure you stand a chance at achieving a favorable outcome for your case. Contact our law firm today at (888) 484-5057 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation to see how we can best support you.
If you find yourself faced with these charges, don’t hesitate to call our firm at (888) 484-5057. We are available for free case evaluations.