The age of consent in Florida is 18. This is the lowest age at which a person is deemed old enough to provide consent for sexual activity. If you have sex with someone under age 18 in Broward County, you can be prosecuted for statutory rape. You can be prosecuted even if you genuinely believed that the minor was an adult, and even if the minor said he or she was an adult. The penalties for offenses of this nature in Florida are especially harsh, and it's important to consult an experienced Fort Lauderdale sex crimes attorney if you have been accused or charged with statutory rape, or other offenses including domestic violence, DUI, or drug crimes.Statutory Rape
Most people understand rape to be nonconsensual sex. In ordinary cases that allege one adult raped another adult, consent can be raised as a defense. Statutory rape is different because you can't defend yourself on the basis that the minor consented. By law, minors are not able to give legal consent for sex.
In Florida, prosecutors pursue statutory rape charges when they believe they have enough evidence to convict. The age of consent is 18, and if you have sex with a minor, even under circumstances that suggested the minor acquiesced of his or her own will, you can be charged and convicted of statutory rape.
Statutory rape may refer to sexual battery charges, or it may refer to lewd and lascivious battery charges. Sometimes it's charged as unlawful sexual activity. Florida Statute section 794.05, which criminalizes unlawful sexual activity with minors, allows a second degree felony to be charged against the older person if there is sexual activity between someone who is 24 or older and someone who is 16 or 17. Sexual activity is defined as vaginal, oral, or anal penetration with the sexual organ of another or the vaginal or anal penetration of another with another object. Florida Statute 800.04 provides for second degree felony charges if someone over 18-years-old has sexual contact with someone who is 12-16 years old. Second degree felony convictions may carry a sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of $10,000. Statutory rape charges may be accompanied by other charges like delinquency of a minor under certain circumstances.
As with other crimes, a prosecutor must establish statutory rape beyond a reasonable doubt. In certain cases, a strong defense may be mounted by showing that one or more elements of the charge are subject to doubt. For example, you may be able to raise doubt about whether sex occurred at all. It may be appropriate in some cases to show that one or more witnesses for the prosecution is not credible.
If you are convicted of statutory rape, you may need to register as a sex offender. Those who fail to comply with the registration requirement may face further criminal prosecution. There is an exemption to registration popularly known as the Romeo and Juliet law for those close in age. The purpose of this exemption is to protect underage couples that have sex where the partners are very close in age to each other and also close to the age of consent. In order for the registration requirement to be removed, you can't have been more than four years older than the minor with whom you were sexually involved. The minor must have been age 13-18 at the time of the statutory rape, and the sexual activity must have been consensual. If you're seeking removal of the registration requirement, you can't have prior sex offenses.Consult a Fort Lauderdale Attorney to Fight Sex Crime Charges
If you are charged with statutory rape or other sex crimes including solicitation or indecent exposure in the Fort Lauderdale area, it is important to hire an experienced attorney that can mount an aggressive defense. You should not lose heart. Lawyer Evan Hoffman looks closely the facts of his clients’ cases to provide the strongest defense available under the circumstances. If you are facing charges in Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Sunrise, Plantation, Deerfield Beach, or Davie, you should consult The Hoffman Firm. Contact us at (954) 524-4474 or via our online form for a free, confidential consultation.