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Understanding how sex crimes are investigated which can result in potential charges and penalties

Sexual crimes in the state of Florida are very serious and must be thoroughly investigated by your attorney either prior to being charged or arrested, or after you are charged or arrested. The first question we look at is what the State Attorney’s process is in deciding who gets investigated for a sex crime and who ultimately gets charged or arrested.

The short answer is the state attorney will charge someone with a sex crime from the evidence or facts they believe to be true at the time. An investigation can start when a citizen calls or files a complaint against a person who may have committed a sex crime. An example would be an adult inappropriately touched a minor and another person saw tis and called the police. In this scenario the police will immediately contact the potential wrong doer either by phone or in person. Another example would be photographs of an illegal sexual activity were discovered and someone turned them over to law enforcement.

In either scenario, at this point, if you agree to speak with law enforcement, your testimony will be used against you, and you can be misinterpreted or tricked into making a confession. Once this is done it is very difficult to undo it. It is more beneficial for the accused to have an attorney to act as a go between the accused and law enforcement. Your attorney may be able to relay information through an investigation to the State Attorney with the goal of not being charged at all or receiving a lesser charge.

So, let’s look at what potential charges could be and their penalties:

In general, sexual crime convictions will warrant the following penalties:

SPECIFIC SEX CRIME PENALTIES

More specifically, sexual crime convictions will follow a minimum and maximum sentence, depending on the type, level, and if a repeated offense. The felony degree, prison time, and fines are determinative on several factors, including age. Potential charges against you include:

  • Lewd and Lascivious Battery
    • This involves sexual penetration (with a body part or object), with the criminal penalties depending on the age of the minor.
    • If the minor is under 12 years old and the defendant is over 18 years old, that is a capital felony.
      • A capital felony results in the death penalty or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
    • If the minor is between 13-15 years old and the defendant is over 18 years old:
      • The result is a 2nd degree felony, up to 15 years in prison, and/or a $15,000 fine.
    • Lewd and Lascivious Molestation
      • This involves sexual touching (including over clothing) with a minor under the age of 16.
      • The criminal penalty depends on the age of the minor.
      • If the minor is under 12 years old and the defendant is 18 years or younger, that is a life felony.
        • A life felony is a life sentence with a 25-year sentence minimum, with the possibility of parole and a $10,000 fine.
      • If the minor is between 12-15 years old and the defendant is over 18 years old, or the minor is under 12 years old and the defendant is under 17 years old:
        • The result is a 2nd degree felony, up to 15 years in prison, and/or a $10,000 fine.
      • If the minor is over 12 years old and the defendant is under 17 years old:
        • The result is a 3rd degree felony, up to 5 years in prison, and/or a $5,000.
      • Unlawful Sexual Activity
        • This involves sexual penetration (with a body part or object) with a 16-17-year-old minor and the defendant is at least 24 years old.
          • The result is a 2nd degree felony charge, up to 15 years in prison, and/or a $10,000 fine.

The legal definition of lewd and lascivious is sensual, wicked, and lustful intent. The lack of lewd or lascivious intent is one of the primary defenses to your case. False allegations are another primary defense because accusations can be made by an angry or jealous party. However, your ignorance of the individual’s age and consent from the other individual are prohibited defenses under Florida Law.

Getting back to the top of how sex crimes are charged, in simple terms, the state attorney will charge someone with a sex crime from the evidence on facts they believe to be true at the time. So if law enforcement has contacted you, get an attorney who knows what they are doing involved immediately. It could determine if you’re charged at all or charged instead with a lesser offense.

Each case is unique, and every factor will make a difference in your case. Contact the Law Office of Adams & Luka, P.A., to examine each relevant factor and provide you with the best possible defense.

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