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Sexual Battery

Unfortunately, we often find individuals faced with life-changing felony charges because of sex with a certain minor. One scenario involves a seventeen-year-old engaged in sexual activity with a twenty-four-year-old. The short seven-year age difference, which often seems small to the parties involved, is a second-degree felony to the State of Florida.

Sexual activity with a minor is a sensitive topic, and it certainly should be. Child exploitation of any kind goes against moral sensibility. Instances like the example described above, however, and those where a minor’s age has been misconstrued or misrepresented, do occur and equal representation under the law is crucial.


Attorney for Sexual Battery Crimes in West Palm Beach, FL

If you or someone you know is under investigation for sexual activity with a minor in violation of Florida law, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney before talking to the authorities.

Understanding your legal rights in this sensitive time is imperative. The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. are experienced litigators with years of courtroom and trial-ready skills and are prepared to defend their clients in any criminal matter.

Our office is located in West Palm Beach, and we have defended individuals in criminal matters such as theft crimes, violent crimes, property crimes, and other felony charges. We accept cases in Palm Beach County, Florida, and in the surrounding areas of Broward County, and Miami-Dade County.


Elements of Unlawful Sexual Activity under § 794.05 F.S.

To convict an individual of sexual battery against certain minors in violation of Florida Statute § 794.05, the State must show the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • the alleged offender is twenty-four years of age or older;
  • who engages in sexual activity;
  • such sexual activity is with a person sixteen (16) or seventeen (17).

The Statute defines “sexual activity” to include “oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object,” excluding activity done for a bona fide medical purpose.


Penalty for F.S. § 794.05 Conviction

The criminal charge for a conviction of unlawful sexual activity with certain minors under Florida Statute § 794.05 is a second-degree felony. Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in Florida State Prison and up to $10,000 fines.

According to the Statute, the victim’s prior sexual conduct is not a relevant issue in the prosecution under this section.

Ignorance of Age

Under Florida law, ignorance of age is not a legally valid defense. In these situations, many defendants claim not to have known that the victim was under the eighteen. Ignorance of the law, in this way, is not a defense.

Adults who engage in sexual activity are expected to know the age of their partners. It is important to note, that Florida Statute § 794.05 is distinct from having “consensual” sex with an individual who is fifteen (15) years old or younger. Florida law deems individuals who are fifteen (15) years old or younger to be legally incapable of consenting to sexual activity.


Duty to Report Sexual Battery

Considering that Florida Statute § 794.05 specifically references individuals who are “high school” aged minors, many times school counselors, nurses, or other officials find out about sexual battery against the minor victim first.

Florida law requires an individual who observes the commission of sexual battery to report the battery to law enforcement.

Florida Statute § 794.027 states that, a person who observes the commission of the crime of sexual battery who fails to report it under the following circumstances, is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor:

  • The individual had reasonable grounds to believe that he or she had observed the commission of a sexual battery;
  • The individual had the present ability to seek assistance for the victim or victims by immediately reporting such offense to a law enforcement officer;
  • The individual failed to seek the assistance of a law enforcement officer;
  • The individual would not have been exposed to any threat of physical violence for seeking such assistance;
  • The individual was not the spouse, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, or sister of the offender or victim, by consanguinity or affinity; and
  • The individual was not the victim of such sexual battery.

Failure to report as required by § 794.027 is criminally charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. First-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to twelve (12) months in jail and up to $1,000 fines.


Additional Resources

Florida Statute § 794.05 – Visit Online Sunshine, the official website of the Florida Legislature to find the full statutory disposition of the unlawful sexual activities with a minor statute. The importance of the statute is in the definition of sexual activity, and the specificity of the age of the victim.


Find an Attorney in Palm Beach County for Sexual Activity with a Certain Minors

Many times, sexual activity with a sixteen or seventeen-year-old child is a result of mistaken age or bad judgment. If you or someone you know has been criminally charged under Florida Statute §794.05 for sexual battery, speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney is important.

At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., we have handled cases where individuals have been accused of unlawful sex acts with certain minors, and we understand the importance of providing meaningful counsel to defendants charged with these crimes.

We take cases throughout Palm Beach County, Florida, and in the surrounding areas of Broward County and Miami-Dade County, FL.

Contact our office at (561) 557-8686 for more information about how our office can handle your case.

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