St. Augustine Sex Crime Defense LawyersLike 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.
St. Augustine Solicitation of a Sex WorkerFla. 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 third-degree felonies, which are 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 AttorneyIndecent 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.