Lewd and Lascivious Battery
Lewd and lascivious battery is one of four lewd and lascivious crimes, which are sex crimes perpetrated against victims who are under the age of 16. Lewd and lascivious battery is sometimes called statutory rape. It involves sex with someone who is underage, and it is presumed that a minor under the age of 16 cannot meaningfully consent to sex. If you are charged with lewd and lascivious battery, you should consult a skillful criminal defense attorney before volunteering any information to the police. At Hanlon Law, Clearwater sex crime lawyer Will Hanlon strongly believes in your rights as a person accused of a crime and may be able to provide a sound defense for you.Lewd and Lascivious Battery
Under Florida Statute section 800.04, a prosecutor trying to obtain a conviction for lewd and lascivious battery must prove that you engaged in sexual activity with someone who is 12-16 years old. Alternatively, they must prove that you encouraged, forced, or enticed somebody under 16 years old to be involved in sexual activity, such as bestiality, prostitution, or S&M. These are charged as second-degree felonies.
If the prosecution can show that there were different anatomical combinations used in multiple acts of lewd and lascivious battery, these are considered distinct acts. That means that you can be tried and punished for each act separately. Double jeopardy, which is a procedural defense that stops the accused from being tried a second time on the same or similar charges and the same facts after a valid acquittal or conviction, is not considered to be implicated in such cases.
What if you are a teenager yourself and you have consensual sexual intercourse with your girlfriend? You can still be charged with lewd and lascivious battery. Your conviction can result in incarceration and fines, or sex offender probation and an automatic designation as a sex offender. That means that you will need to register as a sex offender.
However, there is a Romeo and Juliet law in Florida that allows a defendant to ask a trial judge to be removed from the sex offender list if they meet specific requirements. They will need to prove that the sexual relationship was consensual, that they are not more than four years older than the victim, and that the victim was at least 14 years old. The four-year requirement is interpreted quite strictly, and your own birthday needs to be precisely within four years of the minor victim's birthday to the date. You cannot be required to register as a sex offender or predator because of any other conviction, and there must not be any other convictions for lewd and lascivious or sexual battery offenses. The trial court also has the discretion to deny your petition for the removal of a sex offender designation when you have other crimes on your record.
Many people accused of lewd and lascivious battery despair that there are no available defenses. However, the police and prosecutors need to respect your constitutional rights when pursuing potential charges. Our attorney can examine what led up to the charges being filed and determine whether there is any basis to challenge the lewd and lascivious battery charges. In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate with the prosecutor to plead guilty to a lesser-included offense because the evidence is not very strong, or there are credibility problems with the prosecution's witnesses. In some cases, alleged victims or their families lie, and it may be possible to cross-examine the witnesses at trial, such that a reasonable doubt is raised in the minds of jurors. However, you cannot raise the defense that you were ignorant of the victim's age or that you had a bona fide belief that the victim was older. This is not a permissible defense under Florida law.Hire an Assertive Clearwater Attorney to Fight a Sex Charge
You should hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you are being investigated for lewd and lascivious battery. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation in the Clearwater area since 1994 and may be able to help. Call Hanlon Law at 727.897.5413 or complete our online form.