Lewd and Lascivious Molestation
Lewd and lascivious molestation is one of four lewd and lascivious crimes that are harshly punished in Florida. If you are being investigated for lewd and lascivious molestation, you should retain a sex crime attorney right away. As with other sex crime charges, you face the possibility of needing to register as a sex offender or dangerous sexual predator for the rest of your life. At Hanlon Law, Clearwater sex crime lawyer Will Hanlon is dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused.Lewd and Lascivious Molestation
Florida Statute section 800.4 criminalizes the intentional touching of the private parts of a minor who is under 16 years old. The touching must be done in a lewd or lascivious manner to result in criminal charges.
Like other crimes, child molestation must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. However, convictions are not always based on he-said, she-said testimony, and they may be based on documentation made casually by the perpetrator or victim. In one case, a man had written personal journal entries describing molestation, and his former roommate found them and gave them to the police. The detectives talked to the defendant about how he had written the journals and spent time with his acquaintance's daughter.
The prosecution in that case was able to admit his out-of-court written statements under section 92.565. This section provides that if you are charged with a sex crime, your memorialized confession or admission can be admitted at trial without the State needing to prove the facts and circumstances that constitute the crime, if the court finds that the state cannot prove the elements and also finds that the confession or admission can be trusted. In such a case, the state needs to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that there is enough corroborating evidence that tends to show that the statements are trustworthy.
The severity of child molestation charges depends in part on the age of the defendant and the age of the victim. The most serious child molestation charges involve a defendant who is an adult (over 18) and a victim who is under 12 years old. This is a life felony, and you can wind up with life in prison if you are convicted of this charge.
However, child molestation can also be charged as a second-degree or third-degree felony, depending on the ages of the perpetrator and the victim. Second-degree felonies are punished quite harshly. You can face up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of sex offender probation, and a maximum of $10,000 in fines, if you are under 18 and the victim is under 12, or if you are over 18 and the victim is between 12 and 16 years old. You will also need to register as a sex offender in most cases. Certain eligible defendants who are four or fewer years older than their victims, when the victims are at least 14 years old, may be able to petition the court to remove the registration requirement. However, a conviction for prior sexual molestation or certain other sex crimes can result in your being designated as a dangerous sexual predator.
Defenses when charged with lewd and lascivious molestation are limited, but they do exist. You cannot argue that you did not know the victim's true age. You also cannot argue that the victim told you that they were some age over 16. Consent is not a defense to molestation. However, your attorney may be able to argue that the victim or their family is lying. It may be possible to raise doubt with the jury. It may also be possible to negotiate a lesser charge, such as child abuse.
Additionally, there may be ways to suppress certain evidence based on a police officer's violation of your constitutional or procedural rights. For example, if you were arrested but not read your Miranda rights, it may be possible to get admissions that you made suppressed. Often, with very young children, it is not possible for the prosecution to get reliable testimony by the child. In that case, a procedural or constitutional violation can provide a complete defense.Hire an Experienced Child Molestation Lawyer in Clearwater
If you are charged with lewd and lascivious molestation, you should retain a skillful Clearwater criminal attorney. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation in Clearwater since 1994 and may be able to help during the pre-filing phase of the case as well as during plea bargaining and at trial. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.897.5413 or complete our online form.