There are many sex crimes which can be charged under Florida Law. Rape (officially referred to as Sexual Battery) is outlined in Florida Statutes § 794.011. Most people don’t need to click any of those links to have a pretty accurate understanding of what rape is, whether forceful, through the use of drugs, or through coercion. It is having sex with someone who does not consent. That’s why statutory rape is often so confusing. An individual can be charged with Statutory Rape even if the victim takes the stand and declares that they consented. Under Florida law a conviction can still be pursued. This is based off the legal theory that some people are too young to ever consent.
What Qualifies as Statutory Rape in Florida?
Florida law outlines what qualifies as sexual activity for the purpose of statutory rape in Florida Statutes § 794.05. These activities are:
Anal penetration, or
This penetration includes “any other object,” and includes both recipients. If a woman and an underaged boy have sex, she can still be prosecuted. This law does exclude any bona fide medical purposes.
Age of Consent
In order to be found guilty of statutory rape, the defendant must be 24 years or older. Florida law does take into account that many individuals in high school will turn 18 years old before their partner does and provides a grace period to keep such relationships within legal bounds, as long as the age of their partner is 16 or 17 years old. Sexual activity with a younger child is covered under more serious crimes. Florida law has essentially declared that a person who is under the age of 18 cannot by law consent to sex with someone 24 or older, and someone under the age of 16 never can.
Crimes commonly require some kind of knowledge in order to convict. A sentencing enhancer for assault on a pregnant victim requires that the defendant knew or should have known she was pregnant. That does not exist with statutory rape. This is because it is a strict liability offense. Florida Law takes this one step further. Elsewhere, the government must prove this knowledge beyond a reasonable doubt. In Florida, not only is this element removed, but a defense cannot be raised from lack of knowledge. Florida Statutes § 794.021 states that: “[w]hen . . . the criminality of conduct depends upon the victim’s being below a certain specified age, ignorance of the age is no defense. Neither shall misrepresentation of age by such person nor a bona fide belief that such person is over the specified age be a defense.” This means seeing a fake ID at a bar, college textbooks, or any other of indicators of legal age from the victim does not alleviate guilt.
Penalties for Statutory Rape
Statutory rape carries significant penalties, including up to 15 years of prison, 15 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine. The penalties do not end there though. A person convicted must register as a sex offender and undergo treatment. Job prospects will be very difficult with both a sex offender registration and a felony record. Housing may be more sympathetic if a deep dive into the type of sex offense is done, but most of the time this will mean a rejection for housing in all but the worst properties.
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Tallahassee
Statutory Rape allegations can alter a person’s life forever based on the result of their criminal case. Contact a Tallahassee sex crimes lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have decades of experience representing people who have been accused of sex crimes. There are often legal defenses or strategies which can result in lenient plea offers, dismissals, or verdicts of not guilty. The attorneys in the Pumphrey Law legal team will fight for your rights and make sure that you receive the best possible results based on the facts of your case. Call a Criminal Defense Attorney today at (850) 681-7777 or send an online message to discuss your rights during an open and free consultation with one of our legal team’s defense attorneys.
Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney. Don has achieved over 100 not guilty verdicts at trial and over 2,000 dismissals.