Unnatural or Lascivious Acts
You can face serious criminal charges for intentionally touching a child who is under age 16 in a "lewd or lascivious" manner. Lewd or lascivious means that the person acting was doing so with sensual intent, or in an unchaste, wicked, licentious, or lustful way. Many people are surprised to learn that ignorance of a minor's age is not a defense to lewd and lascivious crimes. However, it is sometimes possible to negotiate with the prosecutor to get a deal to plead guilty to unnatural or lascivious acts, which is a less serious crime. At Hanlon Law, we may be able to provide you with an aggressive defense. Clearwater sex crime attorney Will Hanlon strongly believes in guarding the rights of the accused.Unnatural or Lascivious Acts
Florida Statute section 800.02 states that somebody who has committed an "unnatural and lascivious act with another person" has committed a misdemeanor of the second degree. This law exempts a mother's breastfeeding of her baby. Historically, this code section was used to prosecute people who were involved in homosexual or oral or anal sex. However, today it is a charge that is often used as a negotiation tool to defend people who are accused of more serious lewd and lascivious crimes, such as molestation.
It is possible, even today, to be charged with an unnatural or lascivious act. What counts as unnatural or lascivious is very vague, but an unnatural or lascivious charge may be charged in situations in which sexual activity occurs in a public park, beach, or other public setting. It can be charged even when two adults were consenting. The prosecutor will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you acted with another person and that the acts were unnatural and lascivious. Unnatural in this context means that the behavior was not normal. Of course, what is normal varies with the community and the times. If convicted, you can face up to 60 days of jail time and a maximum fine of $500.
Unnatural and lascivious acts are lesser included offenses for other crimes. Generally, there are necessarily included offenses and permissibly included offenses. A necessarily included offense is always perpetrated if somebody perpetrates the greater crime. Permissibly included offenses are those that are only sometimes perpetrated when somebody perpetrates a greater crime.
In Florida, an unnatural and lascivious act is a lesser included offense of exposure of sexual organs in a vulgar manner, lewd or lascivious battery, lewd or lascivious molestation, lewd or lascivious conduct, a lewd or lascivious act committed around a child, and a lewd or lascivious offense committed around an elderly individual. Generally, the greater crimes may be charged as first-degree misdemeanors, third-degree felonies, or second-degree felonies. If you have been accused of any of these acts, your attorney may be able to help you plead the charge down to the necessarily included offense of an unnatural and lascivious act and get a much shorter sentence.
Why would prosecutors allow this sort of plea deal? Sometimes prosecutors hope to get rid of a case when they offer a plea deal with this lesser included offense. Proving any crime requires the prosecutor to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very high standard. There may not be enough proof regarding the act itself, or perhaps there are certain credibility issues that the prosecutor may see in their witnesses. In other cases, a prosecutor can be persuaded that if an individual does not have a criminal record and has other factors that support a less aggressive approach, the risk to the community is low if an unnatural or lascivious acts misdemeanor is charged and pled, rather than a more serious offense.Vigorous Advocacy from a Sex Crime Attorney in the Clearwater Area
Whether you are being accused of an unnatural and lascivious act or a more serious sex crime, you should retain a skillful sex crime attorney to provide a strong defense. These are not charges to take lightly. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation in the Clearwater area since 1994 and may be able to help. You can call Hanlon Law at 727-897-5413 or complete our online form.