Statutory rape, or lewd or lascivious battery, criminalizes all sexual acts with children older than 12 years but younger than 16, as explained in the applicable Florida Statute. This law applies even when the sexual activity is consensual. A conviction may come with several years in prison, so if you face these charges, then your first call should be to a criminal defense attorney.
Statutory rape is a strict liability crime, which means that you cannot put responsibility on the child in your defense. It does not matter if you were unaware of the child’s real age, or if he or she consented.
If Florida police have charged you with statutory rape, then a Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer from Leader & Leader, PA may be able to help. To start planning your defense, call us today at 954-523-2020.
Until then, read on to learn three defenses that will not work against statutory rape charges:
As mentioned before, you cannot use consent as a defense against statutory rape charges. The law considers children below the age of 16 to be too young to make adult decisions about sex, which is why it is illegal to participate in sexual activities with them.
- Ignorance of Age
Even if you did not know that the child was below the age of consent, this will have no bearing on the outcome of your case. You cannot even use this statutorily prohibited defense at trial. This means that you cannot admit guilt to the crime and then justify it because the child either lied about his or her age, or you had reason to believe that the child was old enough to give legal consent.
However, if you are using a false allegation defense, then eliciting testimony that the child lied about his or her age may give you more credibility. Being ignorant of the child’s age may work as a mitigating factor for another defense, but it will not work on its own. As noted above, evidence of this may be restricted or excluded by the Court from being admitted at the time of a trail.
- Age Proximity
It is quite common in statutory rape cases for the defendant to be younger than 16 years old. Unfortunately, the law offers no defense provisions for age proximity.
A 12-year-old child who has sex with a 13 year old cannot use age proximity as a defense because the law considers both to be too young to make consensual decisions. Either child could face prosecution – perhaps both.
You can only use proximity in age as a mitigating circumstance to help prove another defense. Depending on the defense you use, age proximity may help reduce your sentence under Florida’s sentencing guidelines.
In terms of the word “defense”, there really is no defense to the offense if the State can prove and/or you admit to the sexual acts. However, under numerous circumstances, an effective criminal defense lawyer may be able to get the State to abandon or reduce the charge based upon the totality of the circumstances. In short, the only true defense is to demonstrate the state cannot prove the allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and/or offering evidence that the alleged offense is fabricated and did not occur.
Demonstrating that you did not commit the act (i.e. false accusation) remains among the most effective defenses to use against charges of statutory rape. People often accuse others of this crime because of jealousy, anger or mental illness. In short, we work to find as many reasons the accuser would have motive to make the claim without merit.
If you are facing charges of lewd or lascivious battery, know that the penalties for this crime can send you to prison for a very long time, cost you a $10,000 fine and add your name to Florida’s Sex Offender Registry – for life. A Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer may be able to help you structure a defense based on your unique circumstances. Call Leader & Leader, PA at 954-523-2020 to schedule a consultation.