Florida Sex Crime Defense
Getting arrested for a sex offense such as indecent exposure or soliciting a prostitute can be a humiliating experience, and the fear of such an act becoming public knowledge might drive you to confess and plead guilty to put the matter behind you as quickly and quietly as possible. Before you make any decision, however, consider talking to a criminal defense attorney first. There might be reasons why the charges against you shouldn’t stick or ways to avoid a conviction or serious penalties for a sex crime. Also, it’s critical to know that pleading guilty to certain sex offenses can get you placed on the sex offender registry, where the offense will be made public and follow you wherever you go for the rest of your life.
If you’ve been charged with a sex crime in Florida, call Meldon Law to review your case with a knowledgeable and dedicated Florida criminal defense attorney. We’ll let you know your options and help you with a strategy to get the best possible outcome in your particular circumstances.
What Are Sex Crimes in Florida?
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement distinguishes between forcible and non-forcible sex offenses. Non-forcible sex offenses are defined as “the unlawful sexual intercourse, sexual contact, or the unlawful behavior or conduct intended to result in sexual gratification without force or threat of force and where the victim is incapable of giving consent.” This definition is meant to include incest (sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other too closely to be able to lawfully marry in Florida) and indecent exposure (exposure of private body parts to the sight of another person in a lewd or indecent manner in a public place). The non-forcible sex offenses specifically listed in Florida statutes include:
- Exposure of Sexual Organs
- Lewd or Lascivious Offenses Committed Upon or in the Presence of an Elderly Person or Disabled Person
- Unnatural and Lascivious Act
- Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition In the Presence of an Employee
- Offenses Against Students by Authority Figures
- Lewd and Lascivious Behavior
- Computer Pornography
- Obscene or Harassing Telephone Calls
Forcible sex offenses, in contrast, are defined as “any sexual act directed against another person, forcibly and/or against that person’s will or not forcibly or against the person’s will, where the victim is incapable of giving consent.” The use of force or the threatened use of force is a necessary element of a forcible sex offense, except in cases where the victim is deemed unable or too young to give consent. Forcible sex offenses are classified into two categories in Florida: rape and fondling. Specifically, Florida has laws on the books prohibiting the following forcible sex offenses:
- Sexual Battery
- Lewd or Lascivious Molestation
- Lewd or Lascivious Conduct
Other crimes, such as prostitution, pimping, or soliciting a prostitute, are also commonly considered to be sex crimes by the general public, although they aren’t technically classified as sex offenses in Florida crime reports.
How Does the Sex Offender Registry Work?
Florida law lists over 20 different offenses that can land you on the Florida sex offender registry, from forcible offenses such as sexual battery to something like video voyeurism. You can get on the registry through a conviction for a listed offense as well as a plea of guilty or no contest. Once on the registry, you stay on for the rest of your life and even for a year after you’ve died.
The registry includes your name and address along with your picture on a publicly searchable database. People can find you by name or address, print out flyers and give them to your neighbors or post them on street corners. People on the registry are also required to check in with the local sheriff regularly and to report any move or name change within 48 hours. Failing to register is both a Florida felony and a federal crime.
Registration is a lifetime requirement, and it is only possible to get off the registry in very few limited situations. It is also possible to avoid registration under certain circumstances, such as if the offense involved a consensual act with a minor between 13 and 18 and the perpetrator was not more than four years old.
Sex offenders can also be designated as Sexual Predators if they are found guilty of a sex offense involving a minor or physical violence or if they qualify as a repeat sexual offender. A sexual predator can be civilly committed to a secure treatment facility after they have served their prison sentence and might never get out. Sexual predators cannot get off the sex offender registry.
What if I’ve Been Charged With a Sex Crime?
Before you give in to fear, embarrassment or intimidation, remember that everyone accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You might have defenses against the crime charged, such as mistaken identity, lack of intent (the act was consensual) or entrapment. The police might also have made an illegal arrest, coerced a confession or violated your rights by failing to give you the required Miranda warnings before taking a statement. Prosecutors might also be charging you with a more serious offense but be willing to reduce the charges to something that will keep you off the registry and out of jail.
No matter how bleak the picture painted by law enforcement looks, take the time to consult with a criminal defense attorney who only has your best interests at heart. You might have good options available to deal with the charges and come out the other side with your life and future intact. You don’t lose anything by talking to a attorney first, and you stand to gain a lot.
Help Is Available After an Arrest for a Sex Crime in Florida
If you’ve been arrested and charged with a sex crime in Florida, call Meldon Law at 800-373-8000 for practical advice and effective representation for the best outcome in your case.