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Winston Law PA
561-670-9375

Sex Offenses

Sex crimes are especially complex and sensitive charges that are taken very seriously under Florida law.  Just being charged with a sex crime can have a serious impact on a person’s personal and professional lifeIn addition to significant jail time, a person charged with a sex crime is also facing the possibility of being designated a sex offender or sexual predator.  Those designations require registration with the state government and make it extremely difficult to find employment and housing. If you are under investigation or have been charged with a sex crime, it is extremely important to contact a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

The heading sex crimes encompasses many different charges including sex crimes against children, violent sexual assault, date rape, possession of child pornography, violations of sex offender registry laws, prostitution and solicitation of prostitution.

Sex Crimes Against Children

Sex crimes against children include the following:

Sexual Battery on a Child Under12.  To prove the crime of sexual battery on a child under 12 the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • the defendant anally, vaginally or orally penetrated by or union with the sexual organ of another, or penetration of another by any object.
  • And the victim was under 12 years of age.

If the defendant is 18 years or older at the time of the crime, it is a capital crime punishable by mandatory life in prison.  If the defendant is under 18 years of age at the time of the crime, it is a life felony.

Sexual Battery on a Child Over 12 and Under 18.  Similar to sexual battery on a child under12 except that the state must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • the defendant anally, vaginally or orally penetrated by or union with the sexual organ of another, or penetration of another by any object.
  • the sexual battery was committed against a child over the age of 12 but under 18.

This is a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Lewd and Lascivious Battery.       To prove the crime of lewd and lascivious battery, the state must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • the defendant engaged in sexual activity with a person 12 years of age or older but under 16 or
  • encouraged, forced, or enticed any person under 16 to engage in an act involving sexual activity.

This is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Lewd and Lascivious Molestation.  Often charged as a lesser crime to sexual battery on a child under 12, to prove lewd and lascivious molestation, the state must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • the defendant intentionally touched the breasts, genitals or buttocks or the clothing covering them, of child, in a lewd and lascivious manner.

If the child is under 12 years of age, the crime is a life felony.  If the offender is under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed the crime is a second degree felony.  If the child is under 16 but over 12 years of age at the time the crime was committed, it is a second degree felony.

Lewd and Lascivious Conduct.  To prove the crime of lewd and lascivious conduct, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • the defendant intentionally touches a person under 16 in a lewd and lascivious manner or
  • solicits a person under 16 to commit a lewd and lascivious act.

This is a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition. To prove the crime of lewd and lascivious exhibition, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • the defendant intentionally exposed his/her genitals in a lewd and lascivious manner or
  • committed a lewd act in the presence of a victim under16 year of age.

Committed by a defendant over 18 years old, this crime is a second degree felony.  Committed by a defendant under 18 years of age the crime is a third degree felony.

There are several variations of these sex crimes against children.  The severity of the crime is dependent upon the age of the defendant, the age of the victim, the specific sexual act alleged and whether violence was a factor in the crime.  Not knowing the victim’s age, the victims misrepresentation of his/her age, and the bona fide belief of the victims age are not defenses to sex crimes on children.  Consent is also not a valid defense to sex crimes involving children.

Sex Crimes Against Adults

Sex crimes against adults include the following:

Sexual Battery.  The crime of sexual battery is commonly known as rape.  To prove the crime of sexual battery, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • the defendant orally, anally, or vaginally penetrated by or union with the sexual organ of another, or penetration of another by any object.

This does not include any act done for a bona fide medical purpose. There is no requirement that the state must prove any physical force was used.  Sexual battery is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Sexual Battery with A Deadly Weapon/Physical Force.  To prove the crime of sexual battery with a deadly weapon or physical force, the state must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

  • the defendant orally, anally, or vaginally penetrated by or union with the sexual organ of another, or
  • penetration of another by any object and that during that act,
  • the defendant used actual physical force likely to causes serious injury or used or threatened to use a weapon.

This crime is a life felony and punishable by life in prison with a minimum 25 year prison sentence.

There are several variations of sex crimes against adults.  The crime of sexual battery is enhanced depending upon whether force is used or threatened, whether a weapon was used in the process of committing the crime, and whether the mental state of the victim (was the victim drugged, mentally incapacitated or have a mental disease or defect).  Unlike with sex crimes against children, Florida law allows the defense of consent to be raised when the alleged victim is an adult.

Child Pornography

With advances in technology, there has been a significant rise in the number of prosecutions for possession, sale and distribution of child pornography.  Whether the pornography is found on your computer by another person with access to the computer or law enforcement tracks the downloading of the images, if you are found to have pornographic images of children on your computer you are facing prison time for each individual picture.

Winston Law, P.A. can help you by developing defenses such as the computer belonging to someone else, multiple people having access to the computer where child pornography was found, the child pornography was not intended to be downloaded, the pornographic images were not of minors and by attacking mistakes made by law enforcement in the collection of the pornographic images.

Failure to Register as a Sex Offender/Sexual Predator

Once a person has been convicted of a sex crime, Florida law requires the court to designate him or her as a sexual offender or sexual predator.  Once designated a sexual offender or predator, the person is required to register with the State sex offender registry.  It is the responsibility of the offender to report a certain number of times each year (twice a year or quarterly) and to update and maintain their registration.  A sex offender or predator must report to both the local registration office and the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Failure to report to either of those offices after receiving the designation, failure to report each year, and failure to update your address or information are third degree felonies punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

The laws that apply to sex offender and predator registration can be quite confusing.  Often times the offender is on probation and violating the registration laws can cause a serious violation of probation.  If you have been charged with failing to register or want to avoid registration problems, it is important to have a knowledgeable and skilled attorney advise you as to the specific requirements of the registration law.

Prostitution. 

Prostitution is the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire.  The State may charge for soliciting, receiving, transporting or offering to commit prostitution.  Prostitution is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in the count jail.  The State of Florida can enhance the punishment for a person with multiple convictions of prostitution.  After three convictions for prostitution, the State can legally charge a person with felony prostitution a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

When cracking down on prostitution, law enforcement often uses many types of undercover operations.  These operations include the use of undercover officers, audio and video tapes.  It is important to have a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney on your side to evaluate the State’s evidence, question how the evidence was gathered and preserved, and who started the conversations on the tape, and what was said.

At Winston Law, P.A., we understand the sensitive nature of these crimes and will aggressively work to protect the rights of the accused.

If you or a loved one have been arrested or are under investigation for a sex crime, please contact Winston Law, P.A. at (561) 670-9375 or susan@winstonlawpa.com for your free consultation.

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