Defending Minors and Young Adults

Clearwater Lawyers Advocating for Youthful Defendants Accused of Sex Crimes

Parents usually do not consider the possibility that their beloved child could act in such a way that they could be charged with a sex crime. However, a minor can be charged with a sex crime in Florida. Often, the alleged perpetrators are teenagers, but even younger children can be charged with offenses like sexting or child pornography. It is important for parents to take an investigation seriously and retain a skillful Clearwater sex crime attorney for their child right away. At Hanlon Law, we take the rights of the accused quite seriously and mount strong defenses when defending minors and young adults.

Defending Minors and Young Adults

If you are a parent, you should never let anyone talk to your child about criminal allegations without representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney. You may assume that your child is innocent and will not need an attorney, but police officers may interrogate a child as aggressively as they would interrogate an adult. The potential consequences of speaking to a police officer without an attorney are huge. Things that your child says innocently could be twisted to support the prosecution's case. Like an adult, your child has the right to an attorney and the right to remain silent when in custody.

Sometimes sexual misconduct allegations arise out of a misconstrued event. For example, a younger child may misinterpret something that occurred or lie about an event for reasons that are unclear. The result could be lewd and lascivious molestation charges, for example. These are very serious charges in which the prosecution must prove that the defendant intentionally touched the breasts, buttocks, or genitals of a child younger than 16 in a lewd and lascivious manner or encouraged the child to touch himself or herself in a lewd or lascivious manner. If the prosecution proves its case, the result may be not only prison time but also a requirement of registering in the sex offender registry after being released from prison. Sadly, this type of conviction can ruin a child's future.

Statutory rape can be alleged against a minor or young adult even when they are in a consensual romantic relationship. Statutory rape is rape based on the idea that a minor cannot meaningfully consent to sex. The age of consent is 18, but there are various complicated exceptions. In Florida, a minor under age 16 cannot consent to sex, regardless of the defendant's age. A child who is 16-18 years old cannot consent to sex if the other person is 24 or older.

When both people in the relationship are underage, either minor could be charged, but statutory rape is often charged when a boyfriend is older than his girlfriend and the girlfriend's parents are upset about the relationship. For example, statutory rape in the form of a lewd or lascivious criminal charge could be pursued against a 17-year-old if he is having sex with a 15-year-old girl at his high school. It is not a defense for the 17-year-old to claim that the 15-year-old agreed to have sex. Lewd or lascivious battery is a second-degree felony for which a defendant can face up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, as well as a sex offender registration requirement. Assuming that there are no other sex crime charges, however, it may be possible to get the registration requirement removed.

Retain a Clearwater Criminal Attorney to Fight a Charge for Your Child

If your child is being investigated, you should retain an attorney right away. A criminal record, particularly a record including a sex crime, can be highly stigmatizing and affect your child's ability to go to a good college, find a job, find housing, and otherwise transition into adulthood. There may be strong defenses available, and it is important to present them to the prosecutor as early as possible in the process. Attorney Will Hanlon has experience defending minors and young adults in Clearwater and may be able to mount a strong defense. He has been providing criminal defense representation since 1994. Call Hanlon Law at 727-897-5413 or complete our online form.