In Florida, sex crimes are taken very seriously, especially, if there was a minor involved in the offense. Even if there was consent from the minor, based on the statutory rape law, a person might face criminal charges and severe penalties. Therefore, it’s important to know the definition of statutory rape in Florida.
Statutory rape in Florida defines that it is illegal for a person of 24 years or older to engage in sexual activity with a minor who is 16 or 17 years old. Even if there was consent to the sexual act, according to the statutory rape law, the adult can be charged with a second-degree felony.
Consent is very important to avoid being charged with a sex crime. However, this is not always the case when a minor is involved. A person engaging in sexual activity with a minor can face serious criminal charges, even if both parties were consenting. For that reason, it is important to know what the Florida statutory rape law says about the age of consent.
What is considered statutory rape in Florida?
In broad terms, Florida statutory rape law makes sexual relationships between persons of certain ages illegal, even if both parties agreed to the sexual act. In this context, sexual activity includes oral, anal, vaginal penetration or union with the sexual organ of another or by any other object.
Although both parties might have agreed to participate in the sexual activity, the act is still classified as rape because the minor is considered too young to legally consent to participate in sexual activities.
In other words, the statutory rape law defines when an unlawful sexual activity with certain minors occurs. The adult involved in this offense can be charged with a second-degree felony punishable by 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
What age is considered statutory rape in Florida?
According to the statutory rape law, sexual activity between a minor who is 16 or 17 years old and an adult of 24 or older is illegal. Even though there is consent from both parties, the relationship will still be considered unlawful.
This is because, in these types of cases, the minor’s consent is not relevant. However, it is important to note that sexual activity between a minor who is 16 or 17 and up to 23 years old is not illegal under the law. In this situation, there needs to be consent from both parties.
Additionally, it will not be considered statutory rape if a minor of 16 or 17 years old has had the disabilities of nonage removed. In other words, if a minor successfully applied to the court to be granted the rights of an adult, the consensual activity with an adult will not be unlawful.
Penalties for Statutory Rape in Florida
In Florida, a statutory rape case can be charged as a second-degree felony. For a first-time offender, these charges can result in up to 15 years of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. However, repeat offenders can face harsher penalties that include up to 40 years or life in prison.
In addition to these punishments, other penalties for this offense might also include:
- Sex offender registration
- Community service
- Mandatory counseling
Several sections of the Florida Statutes pertain to age of consent. As a result, there are different penalties for sex activities involving a minor. The charges one faces depend on the age of both the alleged victim and defendant, as well as the circumstances of the alleged incident:
|Offender’s age: 18 or older.
Victim’s age: less than 12.
|Offender’s age: 18 or older.
Victim’s age: between 12 to 15.
|Offender’s age: less than 18.
Victim’s age: between 12 to 16.
What is the Romeo and Juliet Law in Florida?
Many cases of statutory rape involve people who are close in age. As a result, the Romeo and Juliet Law allows young offenders to remove their names from mandatory registration as a sexual offender or sexual predator.
However, in order to be eligible, the offender must meet some requirements which might include:
- The victim was between 13 and 17 years old
- Victim consented to participate in the sexual act
- The offender was not more than 4 years older than the victim
Although the Romeo and Juliet Law offers the possibility to remove the offender’s name from the sex registry, the offense will still be considered as a crime. Thus, the defendant can still face fines and time in prison.
Can parents press charges for statutory rape in Florida?
In Florida, only a prosecutor can press charges for statutory rape. However, if the parents know or suspect that their child has been involved in a sexual relationship with an adult, they can report the crime to law enforcement.
After conducting an investigation, the police can file a report for statutory rape and send evidence to the prosecutor. Based on the information provided, the prosecutor will decide whether or not to press charges. As mentioned before, this process can take place without the cooperation of the minor involved.
Just like any other crime, in order to be convicted, the prosecutor needs to gather enough evidence to prove that:
- There was sexual activity between the alleged offender and the minor
- Parties were not married
- The alleged victim was below the age of consent when the offense occurred
A criminal attorney will provide you with a proper defense for your statutory rape case. However, 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.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
Being accused of a sex crime can have a serious impact on your future and freedom. As a result, you should consider retaining aggressive legal representation.
Goldman Wetzel is a criminal defense law firm that represents individuals facing criminal charges, including sex crimes in Pinellas County, St. Petersburg, Bradenton, Tampa, and surrounding areas of Florida.
If you have been arrested for a sex offense, contact our criminal defense attorneys to secure a strong and aggressive defense. Contact us via secure email form or call (727) 828-3900 to book a free, no-obligation consultation.