The offense of lewd and lascivious battery, commonly referred to as statutory rape, can result in imprisonment, probation, fines, and mandatory listing as a sex offender. It makes no difference whether the younger party consented, whether it was a long-term relationship, nor whether she misrepresented her age — law enforcement can still arrest you for statutory rape.
If you or your child was recently arrested or charged with this felony crime, the lewd and lascivious battery lawyers in Tampa at Goldman Wetzel can help. Call our defense attorneys today to discuss your legal options and determine your next step: 888-727-4652.
What Is Lewd and Lascivious Battery?
Lewd and lascivious battery, as defined by Florida Statute § 800.04(4), consists of “engaging in sexual activity with a person 12 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age; or encouraging, forcing, or enticing any person less than 16 years of age to engage in sadomasochistic abuse, sexual bestiality, prostitution, or any other act involving sexual activity.”
Statutory rape is not a form of forcible rape. Rather, the act simply refers to having intimate relations with a person under the age of consent. Many teenagers and young men find themselves facing lewd and lascivious battery charges as a result of having a (consensual) relationship with a younger teen.
What Is the Age of Consent in Florida?
“Age of consent” is the age when the law holds that a person has the mental capacity to agree to sexual intercourse. The age of consent, which ranges from 14 to 18, is different in each state.
Florida legislatures have set the age of consent to 18. However, there is an exception to rule. Under the Florida Statute § 794.05 age gap provision, also referred to as the Romeo and Juliet law, a person aged 16 or 17 can legally consent to sex if the other party is under the age of 24.
What Penalties Do I Face for Lewd and Lascivious Battery?
Lewd and lascivious battery is a harshly prosecuted felony offense. The law categorizes this sex crime as a second-degree felony, punishable by up to:
- 15 years in prison;
- 15 years’ probation; and
- $10,000 in fines.
Note: If the defendant has a prior conviction for a similar offense on his record, the state will automatically escalate the charge to a first-degree felony. This would mean substantially higher penalties, including up to 30 years in prison.
If the victim was under the age of 12, the state can charge the defendant with “lewd and lascivious molestation,” rather than battery. The penalties for face for for lewd and lascivious molestation depend on the defendant’s age. If the defendant was under 18, the crime is a life felony, punishable by 30 years to life in prison. If the defendant was 18 or older, lewd and lascivious molestation is a capital felony, punishable by life in prison.
And unlike other cases in which a defendant may qualify for a reduction in his prison sentence for good behavior, those convicted of lewd and lascivious battery are ineligible for early release and must serve their entire sentence, pursuant to Florida Statute § 944.275.
How Can I Defend Against Lewd and Lascivious Battery Charges?
Our aggressive defense attorneys at Goldman Wetzel can help you fight any type of sex crime charges in Tampa, including lewd and lascivious battery or molestation.
Note: Florida considers lewd and lascivious battery a strict liability offense which means the state can hold you liable regardless of whether you knew the victim’s age or whether she initiated the sexual relations. In other words, you cannot use ignorance of the victim’s age or promiscuity as a defense.
However, there are other viable defenses we can we can explore, such as:
- True Innocence: In many cases, the people who report statutory rape to authorities do not have all the facts and make wrong assumptions. If you did not commit the offense, we can investigate the accusation and gather evidence to support your defense.
- Mitigating Circumstances: When certain circumstances are present, judges can take them into consideration during sentencing and depart from the mandatory minimum sentence. Mitigating circumstances include factors such as the victim initiating the sexual contact, the defendant being mentally unstable, or the defendant being under 21. If we present these facts to court, it can effectively reduce the punishment.
How Can Goldman Wetzel Help with My Case?
Our attorneys are dedicated to representing defendants and helping them navigate the criminal justice system. With sex crime felonies such as lewd and lascivious battery, your future, freedom, and reputation are on the line. Our team will work together on your case and provide the counsel, defense, and advocacy you need to effectively fight the charges.
When we review and discuss your case with you, we will determine the best approach for your unique circumstances. In some situations, we may be able to sway the state to forgo filing formal charges, or present evidence early on that prompts the court to dismiss the case. In other cases, we may be able to negotiate the prosecutor for lesser charges or present facts to the court that reduces penalties.
And if your case meets certain stipulations, we can petition the court to waive the sex offender registry requirement. This is vital because being a registered sex offender will pose numerous challenges for you, e.g., difficulty buying a home or getting a job.
When you enlist the help of the Goldman Wetzel team, we will help you through each stage of the case and work diligently on your behalf. We will explain how the system works and what you can expect during the process so that you are prepared and not left in the dark. We will also protect your rights and create the strongest possible defense strategy to secure a positive outcome.
Talk to Our Lewd and Lascivious Battery Lawyers in Tampa Today.
If you are facing statutory rape accusations or charges, contact Goldman Wetzel at 888-727-4652 to speak to one of our lewd and lascivious battery lawyers in Tampa today.