Florida statutory rape law makes sexual relationships between persons of certain ages illegal, even if both parties are consenting. Learn what the law says about age of consent, close-in-age laws, and prohibited defenses. Whatever the circumstances, make sure you have legal representation. Goldman Wetzel can help – call us at 727-828-3900.
Florida’s Age of Consent Laws
Generally, the age of consent in the state is 18. However, sexual activity between a person who is 16 or 17 and up to 23 years old is not illegal under Florida law. Sound confusing? For a lot of people it is.
Several sections of the Florida Statutes pertain to age of consent. Florida Statute § 794.011 explains the charges of “sexual battery” and sets the age restrictions on sexual conduct. Florida Statute § 800.04 outlines lewd and lascivious offenses, defining charges involving victims who are between 12 and 15 years old. Florida Statute § 794.05 defines special restrictions and charges for sexual conduct where the older party is 24 or older and younger party is 16 or 17.
The charges one faces depend on the age of both the alleged victim and defendant, as well as the circumstances of the alleged incident.
- If the victim is under 12, an offender 18 and older faces sexual battery charges, which is a capital felony punishable by up to life imprisonment.
- If the victim is between 12 and 15, the defendant may face lewd and lascivious battery charges, which is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
- If the victim is 16 or 17 and the offender is over 24, then the defendant faces second-degree felony charges as well.
Meanwhile, Florida Statute § 794.021 prohibits the use of ignorance of the victim’s age as a defense against statutory rape charges. Even if you are able to prove that a reasonable person would have believed the victim was older than he or she appeared to be, it is not a valid defense in Florida.
Florida’s Romeo & Juliet Law
Many cases of statutory rape involve people who are close in age. So the Florida legislature enacted the “Romeo and Juliet Law” (Florida Statute § 943.04354) in 2007. This law allows offenders to remove their names from mandatory registration as a sexual offender or predator, provided they meet the required criteria. The victim must have been between 13 and 17 years of age and must have consented to sexual contact with the perpetrator, who cannot have been more than four years older than the victim.
Additional Charges Related to Statutory Rape
The circumstances of the alleged incident may lead to other charges in addition to those listed above. For example, someone who travels any distance to meet with a minor for the purposes of engaging in sexual activity could face a second-degree felony charge under Florida Statute §847.0135(4). Federal charges carry penalties up to life in prison.
Defending against statutory rape and related charges is a difficult task that no one should undertake without the help of a criminal defense attorney. So get in touch with Goldman Wetzel today to set up a consultation and get started building your case. Contact us at 727-828-3900.