Statutory Rape Law in Florida
The law is tough on sex offenders in Florida, handing out harsh sentences for crimes like rape, sexual assault, and molestation. Sex crimes involving minors receive some of the most severe punishments. Rape is defined as forcing another to have sex against their will, or in legal terms, without their consent. People under a certain age can not legally consent.
These cases often arise from emotionally-charged situations where the facts may be in dispute. Nonetheless, the charges are vigorously prosecuted, and the consequences can be devastating. You’ll want the best statutory rape defense lawyer you can get. Consider the Criminal Defense Attorneys at the Rivas Law Firm. Call 407-644-2466 for a free consultation.
Florida’s Two-Tier Age of Consent Law
While anyone under 18 is generally considered to be a minor, under Florida’s “Close-in-Age” or “Youthful Adult” exception to Statutory Rape laws, the legal age of consent in Florida depends on the age of the older partner. If you are under 24 years of age, you may legally have consensual sex with a 16- or 17-year-old. But if you are 24 or older, engaging in sexual activity with someone who is 16 or 17 is a violation of Florida Statute 794.05, “Unlawful sexual activity with certain minors.” It is a Second-Degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of sex offender probation, and a $10,000 fine.
Anyone younger than 16 years old cannot legally consent to have sex. An adult who engages in sexual activity with anyone from 12- to 16-years-old is subject to charges of “Lewd or lascivious battery” under Florida Statute 800.04, also a Second-Degree felony. Sex with a person under 12-years-old is a Capital felony in Florida – which can mean life in prison or the death penalty.
The law classifies Statutory Rape as a “strict liability crime.” Regardless of who was ultimately at fault, the state will hold the adult criminally liable. Furthermore, the law does not require prosecutors to prove that the defendant knew that the victim was a minor. Ignorance of the victim’s age or mistaken belief that the victim was at least 18 is not a defense. Even evidence that the minor encouraged, initiated or consented to sexual contact is not a defense.
Statutory Rape Defense
False or mistaken accusations are not uncommon in these cases. Overzealous prosecutors sometimes overstep their authority, and police sometimes violate evidence collection or other rules of procedure. A tenacious defense attorney will conduct a thorough and aggressive investigation into the accuser and the possible motivations behind the charges.
It’s important to remember that defendants have rights. In a situation like this, you need the best criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights. Consider the Rivas Law Firm, where you’ll find an aggressive criminal defense team with a winning record. Let us work for the best possible outcome in your case. For a free consultation, call 407-644-2466 or use our online contact form.