In Florida, sexual activity involving children and teenagers under the age of 16 is criminalized as “lewd or lascivious” crimes, including consensual sexual activity with teenagers under age 16. It is not a defense if you did not know the age of the “victim” or if the victim lied or initiated the conduct, or even if you yourself are underage. Accusations of these sexual offenses always should be taken seriously. A conviction will result not only in jail or prison time, but a permanent label and stigma as a “sex offender.”
Florida lewd or lascivious crime convictions come with harsh penalties, and can carry a lifetime of consequences. If you have been arrested for a lewd or lascivious crime in West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, Jupiter, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Belle Glade, Juno Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Greenacres or other areas in Palm Beach County contact an experienced West Palm Beach lewd and lascivious crime attorney at Meltzer & Bell, P.A..
The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. have an in-depth understanding of lewd or lascivious criminal charges and a militant attention to detail they can apply towards constructing a tough, comprehensive defense for your Palm Beach County lewd or lascivious crime case. To learn more about how Meltzer & Bell, P.A. can help you protect your reputation and your future, call (561) 283-3259 to schedule a free consultation today.
Sexual activity that does not rise to the level of rape or sexual battery is called “lewd or lascivious” behavior in Florida. In the modern era, nearly all “lewd and lascivious” prosecutions in Florida are of people accused of sexual activity involving a person under the age of 16, including consensual sexual activity. Contrary to common belief, urinating in public or breastfeeding is not enough for a conviction of a lewd or lascivious crime.
Lewd or lascivious battery is defined by Fla. Stat. § 800.04(4) as either sexual activity with a person age 12 to 15 or encouraging, forcing or enticing any person under age 16 to engage in sexual activity. Lewd or lascivious battery typically is a second-degree felony, punishable by 15 years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.
The charge can be upgraded to a first-degree felony if the accused has a prior conviction for a sex offense in Florida involving a person under age 16. A conviction on first-degree felony charges can result in 30 years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.
Lewd or lascivious molestation is defined by Fla. Stat. § 800.04(5) as either intentionally touching in a sexual manner the breasts, genitals, genital area, buttocks or the clothing covering them, of a person under age 16 or forcing or enticing a person under age 16 to touch the perpetrator in the genital or buttocks area in a sexual manner.
Penalties for lewd or lascivious molestation depend on the ages of the accused and the victim. If the accused is age 18 or older, and the victim is under age 12, it is a life felony, which means conviction can result in life in prison, a $15,000 fine or both. If the accused is under age 18 and the victim is under age 12, it is a second-degree felony, punishable by 15 years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.
If the accused is age 18 or older, and the victim is between 12 and 15, this is also a second-degree felony, unless the accused has a prior conviction for a sex offense in Florida involving a person under the age of 16. In this situation, the charge can be upgraded to a first-degree felony. If the accused is under 18, and the victim is between 12 and 15, this is a third-degree felony, punishable by five years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both.
Lewd or lascivious conduct is defined by Fla. Stat. § 800.04(6) as either intentionally touching a person under age 16 in a sexual manner or soliciting a person under age 16 to commit a sexual act. If the accused is 18 or older, this is a second-degree felony, punishable by 15 years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both. If the accused is under 18, it is a third-degree felony, punishable by five years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both.
It also is possible to be charged under Fla. Stat. § 847.0135(3)(a) if you are accused of using a computer, cell phone or other electronic device to solicit a person under age 18 to commit a lewd or lascivious act. You also could be charged under Fla. Stat. §794.011(8)(a) if you are accused of soliciting a child under age 18 that you have familial or custodial authority over to commit a lewd or lascivious act. These laws carry similar penalties but have a higher age threshold for the alleged victim.
Sexual activity that does not involve people under age 16, but occurs in front of them, is criminalized as lewd or lascivious exhibition. You can be convicted of lewd or lascivious exhibition if the prosecution proves you did any of the following in the presence of a person who is under age 16:
If the accused is under age 18, this is a third-degree felony, otherwise it is a second-degree felony.
If convicted of any of these crimes, you will become a convicted sex offender. You will have to register where you live with law enforcement for the rest of your life. Additionally, you will be required to maintain records with local law enforcement, including where you live, where you may work, where you attend school and even your personal appearance.
Once you are registered, you may be denied employment, housing or other opportunities. Your registration and information about your offense will become public record. This means any member of the public will be able to find out that you are a convicted sex offender. To avoid becoming a convicted sex offender, it is important to contact a skilled and experienced Palm Beach County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after being accused.
Lewd or lascivious criminal charges often have no basis other than claims and reports by one person, with little to no other evidence. In many cases, these claims or reports are false. They may be invented because a person is angry regarding a different issue, and sometimes a parent or other adult can convince or coerce a teenager or child to lie. In such a situation, it is important to find evidence that the accuser is a generally untruthful person and lacks credibility.
Some defenses are actually prohibited by law. Fla. Stat. § 800.04(2) and Fla. Stat. § 800.04(3) prohibit the use of the following defenses:
It is also not a defense if the accused is under age 16 or 18. However, any of these factors may be used to argue for a lower sentence if a conviction is unavoidable.
Florida has made it a specific offense to masturbate or engage in other sex acts in front of a prison guard or other employee of a correctional facility. Fla. Stat. § 800.09 makes it a third-degree felony to intentionally do any of the following in front of any correctional facility employee or contractor, including parole examiners and those employed by prison enhancement and and correctional work programs:
Generally, the “intentional” part of the law means that the inmate must intend to perform the act in front of the guard or employee, merely being observed on a security camera may not be enough for a conviction of this offense. If convicted, this could be punishable by five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, in addition to any other sentences you may have.
If you have been arrested and charged with a lewd or lascivious crime anywhere in Palm Beach County, including West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, Jupiter, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Belle Glade, Juno Beach, Palm Beach Gardens or Greenacres, contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A..
An experienced West Palm Beach lewd and lascivious crime defense lawyer at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. can help you build a strong defense against the charges. Your future and reputation are important. You should not delay calling for skilled and knowledgable legal counsel. Contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A. at (561) 283-3259 for a free consultation.
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