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Panama City Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer

The state of Florida has a multitude of criminal charges that are sexual in nature. The implications of a person charged with a sexual offense in Panama City are severe. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, you could be facing seriously harsh consequences if your case ends in a conviction. If the allegations involve a minor or a child, you could be required to register as a sex offender for life.

If you have been arrested for a sex crime in Bay County, a Panama city, Florida criminal defense attorney may be able to help. With the right legal guidance, there could be defense strategies or inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case that could help you fight off a conviction.

Criminal Defense Lawyers in Panama City, Florida

Were you recently apprehended by Panama City Police, Panama City Beach Police, or the Bay County Sheriff’s Office for an alleged sex crime? You should be aware of the charges against you and the potential consequences of a conviction. If you are uncertain what you’ve been charged with or how to proceed during this challenging time, consider speaking with an experienced lawyer. Hiring legal representation can make a stark difference in criminal cases. Pumphrey Law’s defense attorneys can provide you with a free consultation when you call (850) 681-7777 or send us a message online.

What is a Sex Crime?

Sex crimes are criminal offenses that are sexual in nature. It covers any non-consensual act, contact, or behavior by one person that is committed upon or forced to be committed by another person. Sexual offenses can include the use of threats or force and can be committed upon a person of any age. Depending on the type of sex crime a person has been accused of in Panama City, it can result in being charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense.

What are the Common Sex Crimes Charged in Panama City, FL?

The FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System and Crime Data Explorer provide the following data on sex crime arrests made by the Panama City Police Department (PCPD) in 2017 and 2019:

  • Sex Crime Arrests in 2017: 37
  • Arrests for Prostitution in 2017: 21
  • Sex Crime Arrests in 2019: 32
  • Arrests for Prostitution in 2019: 9

Additionally, City-Data indicated that there are over 270 registered sex offenders in Panama City. Their data also lists the increasing crime rate of rape (per 100,000) from 2017 – 2020:

  • 2017: 4 (10.5);
  • 2018: 4 (10.7);
  • 2019: 5 (13.4); and
  • 2020: 38 (109.6).

The attorneys with Pumphrey Law Firm represent those in Panama City and the surrounding Bay County area who have been accused of any of the following sexual offenses:

  • Rape Also referred to as its legal term, sexual battery is the criminal offense where a person is accused of committing oral, anal, or vaginal penetration on another person without their consent. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the allegations, the crime can be charged as a second- or first-degree felony.
  • Lewd and Lascivious Acts Acts that are considered lewd and lascivious are sexual in nature and involve the allegations of a person in Panama City engaging or enticing a minor younger than 16-years-old for sexual purposes. The different types of lewd and lascivious acts include:
    • Lewd and Lascivious Conduct: The intentional and sexual touching of a minor younger than 16, can be charged as a third- or second-degree felony;
    • Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition: The intentional showing, displaying or masturbation of one’s genitals in front of a minor younger than 16. Can also include sadomasochistic abuse and sexual bestiality. Can be charged as a third- or second-degree felony;
    • Lewd and Lascivious Battery: The intentional touching or engaging with a minor between the ages of 12 and 16, or when a person forces anyone younger than 16 to engage in sexual activity. Can be charged as a second- or first-degree felony; and
    • Lewd and Lascivious Molestation: The intentional touching of a minor younger than 16-years-old on their buttocks, genitals, or on the clothing covering them. This offense also includes when a person forces a minor under 16 to touch them in a sexual manner. Can be charged as a third-, second-, first-, or life felony.
  • Exposure of Sexual Organs Commonly referred to as “indecent exposure.” When a person in Panama City is accused of exposing or exhibiting their sexual organs in public, on the private property of another person, or was naked in a public place that was not designated for that purpose.
  • Statutory Rape When a person in Panama City who is 24-years-old or older is accused of engaging in sexual activity with a person who is between 16 and 17 years old. Can be charged with a second-degree felony.
  • Luring or Enticing a Child When a person in Panama City is accused of intentionally lures or attempts to lure or entice a child into a structure, dwelling, or conveyance. Can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree felony.
  • Sexual Performance by a Child When a person in Panama City is accused of using a child in a sexual performance or promotes the sexual performance of a child for any purpose. Can be charged as a second-degree felony.
  • Soliciting for Prostitution When a person in Panama City is accused of asking, requesting, or offering money in exchange for a person to engage in sexual activities with them. There does not have to be the actual exchange of money or goods, nor does the sexual act need to occur. For a person to be charged with this offense, it simply requires the solicitation of sex. Can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, a third-degree felony, or a second-degree felony.
  • Offering to Commit Prostitution When a person in Panama City is accused of engaging in sexual activities with another person or persons in exchange for money, goods, or services. Commonly referred to as “sex work,” a person who offers to commit prostitution can be charged with a second- or first-degree misdemeanor, or a third-degree felony.
  • Child Pornography When a person in Panama City is accused of possessing, downloading, or distributing in any form, images, videos, or other depictions of children in a sexual manner. Can be charged as a third- or second-degree felony. Each individual depiction of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is considered its own offense. Child pornography is an offense that can be charged by both State and Federal law.
  • Human Trafficking When a person in Panama City is accused of knowingly engaging in, or financially benefitting from, the transportation, solicitation, recruiting, harboring, maintaining, or obtaining another person for the purpose of exploiting them sexually. Can be charged as a first-degree felony, or a life felony if the offense results in great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement. Sex trafficking is an offense that can be charged by both State and Federal law.

Penalties for Sex Crimes in Florida

When an individual is accused of a sex crime in Panama City, they will likely face prosecution from the 14th Judicial Circuit Court. The penalties for a sex crime conviction will vary depending on several factors. This includes the alleged offense, the age of both the defendant and the victim at the time of the alleged incident, and any aggravating factors.

Based on the sexual criminal offense you’ve been accused of you could face any of the following penalties:

  • Second-degree misdemeanor: Up to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail;
  • First-degree misdemeanor: Up to a $1,000 fine and one year in jail;
  • Third-degree felony: Up to a $5,000 fine and five years in prison;
  • Second-degree felony: Up to a $10,000 fine and 15 years in prison;
  • First-degree felony: Up to a $10,000 fine and 30 years in prison;
  • Life felony: Up to a $15,000 fine and life imprisonment; and
  • Capital felony: Either life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

Additional Consequences of a Sex Crime Conviction

Unfortunately, crimes that are sexual in nature often come with additional penalties that can follow you even after you’ve paid the fines and served the recommended sentence. A sex crime conviction in Panama City could also come with these additional consequences:

  • Loss of employment;
  • Loss of scholarship and/or enrollment at a Florida University;
  • Damage to reputation;
  • Damage to relationships between friends and family;
  • Inability to find a home; and/or
  • The requirement to register as a sexual offender or sexual predator in Florida.

You should be aware of all the penalties that can be imposed from a sex crime conviction. To avoid harsh punishment, consider hiring legal representation that will accurately and aggressively defend your case.

Example Cases in Panama City

The following provides several example sex crime cases in Panama City, FL:

  • January 2024 The Bay County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) announced the arrest of a former high school teacher who was accused of engaging in a sexual relationship with one of their students. According to the press release, BCSO investigators spoke with the Panama City student, who admitted to being involved in a romantic relationship with the teacher that began when the student was in eighth grade. The student reported that she and the teacher would engage in sexual intercourse on school campus during school hours. Additionally, the teacher would pick the student up from her house to engage in sexual activity in his vehicle. Police also recovered several letters hand-written by the defendant to the student, where he admitted to their shared physical activity along with his admission to being “in love” with the student. The Bay County teacher has since been charged with Offenses Against Students by an Authority Figure, two counts of Sexual Battery by a Person in Custodial Authority, and Lewd or Lascivious Battery.
  • January 2024The BCSO responded to a local hotel that reported two guests who had stayed past their check out. Police found a teenage juvenile and a man in his 40s inside the room, whom they arrested and charged with Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor after learning the two had engaged in sexual acts that morning. Through further investigation, police learned that the juvenile had been a victim of human trafficking by another person they met via social media. Communication through several social media apps showed the juvenile was convinced to engage in commercial sex by the second suspect. A third defendant was alleged to have been the driver for the operation, providing illegal drugs to those involved (including the juvenile). The third defendant was apprehended and charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine, Principal to Human Trafficking, Delivering a Controlled Substance to a Minor, Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Conditional Release Violation. Police located the second defendant who contacted the juvenile and set up the operation. He admitted to producing the idea to use the juvenile and that he himself engaged in sexual activity with the juvenile on two occasions. The second defendant had been charged with Human Trafficking and two counts of Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor.
  • February 2024 BCSO’s Criminal Investigation Division worked alongside the Walton County Sheriff’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations to arrest a person accused of possessing and distributing CSAM. The press release stated that the defendant was accused of using the internet to download and distribute images containing the sexual performance of a child. When police served the defendant a search warrant for his home, they obtained his computer which contained multiple images and videos that depicted the sexual exploitation of children. The suspect was transported to the Bay County Jail where he was charged with 12 counts of Possession of The Sexual Performance of a Child. BCSO stated that additional charges are expected as the computer forensic analysis is completed.

Potential Defense Strategies to Sex Crime Charges in Florida

Even if you’ve already been arrested by Bay County law enforcement for an alleged sex crime, there may still be defense strategies available to you. Common defenses that can help lessen or dismiss a sexual offense charge can include:

  • Consent – If the alleged victim gave consent to engage in sexual activities with the defendant, a defense attorney may be able to establish this as a defense. However, it is imperative to point out that any person under the legal age of 18 cannot legally give consent to sexual activities. Therefore, this defense would not work if the alleged victim were a minor.
  • Mistaken identity – In some cases, the victim may have wrongly identified the defendant. A defense attorney can use an expert forensic witness to analyze the DNA evidence to prove the defendant was not the person responsible for the alleged sex crime.
  • Alibi – A defense attorney can help prove the defendant’s alibi if they were at a different location at the time of the alleged offense. An alibi is an affirmative defense that can result in the defendant being found not guilty.

There may be defenses not listed above that may apply to your case. Contact the lawyers with Pumphrey Law to review your case during a free consultation.

Contact an Experienced Panama City Defense Lawyer

Being accused of any crime in Florida is serious. However, crimes that have a sexual nature are some of the most harshly prosecuted offenses, especially if there is a child victim involved. You should be weary of the life-long consequences that can arise with a sex crime conviction. Lengthy prison sentences, expensive fines, and a life-long registration as a sexual offender are all potential realities you could be facing if the prosecution secures a conviction.

Not all is lost, though. By hiring a lawyer, you can rest assured that you have a knowledgeable representative with a deep understanding of Florida’s laws and how to defend against them. The Panama City Criminal Defense Attorneys with Pumphrey Law Firm have spent decades working to defend those in Panama City and the surrounding Bay County area. If you or a loved one have recently been charged with a sex crime and don’t know what to do next, contact our office today. We can provide you with a free case evaluation when you call (850) 681-7777 or fill out our online form.

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