Are All Florida Sex Crimes Felony Offenses?
While you might expect that the serious nature of Florida sex crimes would always lead to the most severe charges, not all offenses are felonies. The distinction between misdemeanor and felony is an important one, since only certain felonies trigger the requirement to register as a sex offender under Florida law – in addition to such penalties as jail time, probation, fines, and restitution. The implications of registration are considerable, since there are additional sanctions for noncompliance with the requirement AND the collateral consequences will follow you around for life.
For these reasons, it’s best to work with a Florida felony sex crimes defense lawyer who will fight the charges by employing all available legal strategies. Plus, you might find it helpful to review the offenses that are charged as felonies under state law.
Felony Sex Crimes in Florida: The majority of these offenses are charged as felonies, with the exceptions being crimes that are typically consensual for the relevant parties; prostitution and solicitation are the most common examples. Felony sex crimes include:
Lewd and Lascivious Acts: This definition covers conduct committed on a person under 16 years old, including:
- Battery, also known as statutory rape;
- Molestation, which is touching of the genitals;
- Lewd Conduct, referring to a touching that doesn’t constitute molestation; and,
- Exhibition, i.e., “flashing” a child.
Sexual Battery: The crime is one that many people associate with rape. Florida specifically defines the offense as a non-consensual sexual act that results from force, coercion, or incapacity. There are aggravating factors that increase the punishment through enhanced penalties.
Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor: Age is the key to this crime, since it’s unlawful for a person 24 years old or older to engage in sexual activity with a 16-17 year old child – even if the victim consents.
What to Expect if You’re Convicted of a Felony Sex Crime: Even the least severe crime of Lewd Conduct by a minor is a Third Degree Felony, punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 months in prison, a maximum of five years’ incarceration, a $5,000 fine, and sex offender probation. The penalties increase for higher grade felony sex crimes, so:
- For a Second Degree Felony like Unlawful Sexual Activity with Minors, the mandatory minimum is 66 months’ imprisonment, a maximum of 15 years in prison, and a $10,000 fine.
- Aggravated Sexual Battery is a First Degree Felony, for which the sentence for a conviction is at least 90 months and up to 30 years in prison.
Contact a Florida Sex Crimes Defense Attorney About Your Options
Regardless of whether you were arrested for a felony sex offense or a related misdemeanor, experienced legal counsel is essential. The evidence and allegations against you might seem damning, but you’re entitled to your day in court. You might have defenses to the charges, and there may be opportunities to raise the reasonable doubt that would prevent a conviction. For information on how we can help, please contact Fort Lauderdale sex crimes attorney Kevin J. Kulik to set up a consultation at our office.