Unlawful Sexual Activity With Certain Minors Defense Lawyer in Florida

Florida Statute § 794.05 Fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer; aggravated fleeing or eluding.

Florida Statute § 794.05 on Unlawful Sexual Activity with Certain Minors

Title XLVI, Chapter 794, Florida Statute § 794.05 Unlawful sexual activity with certain minors states that a person who is 24 years old or older and engages in sexual activity with a person who is 16 years old or 17 years old has committed a second-degree felony in the state of Florida. 

Summary of Florida’s Laws on Sexual Activity with Certain Minors

Age of Victim and Accused – Two of the most important factors to note in the statute are the age of the victim and the age of the offender. The statute only applies to victims age 16 and 17; It does not apply to people younger. The statute also only applies to offenders age 24 and older; It does not apply to offenders age 18 to 23. 

Penalties for a Second-Degree Felony – Pursuant to Florida law, which is described in § 775.082(3)(a)(6)(d), a second-degree felony can carry a prison sentence of up to 15 years. In addition, under § 775.083(1)(b), a second-degree felony can also carry a fine of up to $10,000. The penalties will be enhanced if the sexual activity involved a school faculty or staff member and a student. Anyone convicted of a felony under this statute will be required to register as a sex offender in the state. 

Definition of “Sexual Activity” Within § 794.05

Within the meaning of § 794.05, the term “sexual activity” includes vaginal, anal, or oral penetration with a sexual organ and vaginal and anal penetration with an object. A person’s finger is considered an “object” for purposes of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. Other types of sexual activity are not addressed and not covered in the statute.

Medical Treatment Exception

A medical provider who performs an examination of the vagina or anus of a person age 16 or 17 for a legitimate medical purpose will not be charged under the statute. This type of medical treatment is not considered “sexual activity.” 

Minors with the Disability of Nonage Removed 

Section 794.05(2) states that the provisions of the statute do not apply to persons age 16 or 17 who have had the disability of nonage removed. Under § 743.015, a Florida minor who is 16 or 17 years old can petition a circuit court to be considered an adult in the eyes of the law. If granted, the petition allows the minor to have all of the rights and responsibilities he or she would have under Florida law at age 18. 

In addition, minors who are or have been married and minors whose spouses have died have had the disability of nonage removed under Florida law. Minors under these circumstances and minors who have successfully petitioned to have the disability of nonage removed will not be considered victims under § 794.05. 

No Consideration of Accuser’s Sexual History

Under 794.05(3), an accuser’s sexual history will not be considered as part of any criminal proceedings filed pursuant to the statute. This means that a prosecutor cannot raise an accuser’s lack of sexual history as evidence tending to prove guilt, and a defendant cannot raise an accuser’s prior sexual behavior as evidence tending to prove innocence. A defendant might raise issues of past behavior that tend to show bias, which can be admissible. 

Ignorance of Age Not a Defense

Florida law does not allow a defendant to raise ignorance of the accuser’s age as a defense to unlawful sexual activity with minors. Florida law also does not recognize as a defense a legitimate belief by the defendant that the accuser was 18 years of age or older. 

Issues of Paternity  

If an accuser age 16 or 17 gives birth to a child following sexual activity with a person age 24 or older, as covered under the statute, a paternity action will be instituted to determine if the accused is the father of the child. Actions in paternity are covered under Chapter 742 of Florida law. In the event it is determined the accused is the father of the child, he will be ordered to pay child support to the accuser. Florida’s child support guidelines are spelled out in Chapter 61 of Florida law. 

Sex Offender Registration and the “Romeo and Juliet Law”

If someone is convicted of a crime under § 794.05, he or she will need to register as a sex offender. The Florida law that can potentially allow persons convicted of unlawful sexual activity with minors to avoid sex offender registration (often referred to as the “Romeo and Juliet Law”) will not apply in cases that fall under this statute. 

The Romeo and Juliet Law applies only in cases where the offender is four or fewer years older than the minor victim. Because § 794.05 applies to offenders age 24 years and older, these offenders will always fall outside of the eligibility requirements of the Romeo and Juliet Law. 

Legal Defenses to Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor 

A Florida criminal defense attorney will look for multiple ways to defend a case involving unlawful sexual activity with a minor. Some common defenses to these actions include (but are not limited to):

  • Age of accuser is outside of statute – If the accuser was not actually 16 or 17 years old at the time of the sexual act or acts, this is a defense to the charges. 
  • Age of accused is outside of the statute – If the accused was under the age of 24 years at the time of the sexual act or acts, this is also a defense to the charges. 

Allegations are false – In many cases, the primary defense will be that the allegations are false. Accusers might have varying motivations for making false claims, and they might be dealing with pressure from parents. 

An experienced attorney will investigate the case fully to look for every opportunity to refute the claims and persuade the jury of the accused’s innocence. 

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