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What Is Considered Lewd And Lascivious Conduct In Florida?

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Lewd and lascivious conduct charges in Florida are considered a grave matter. Police and prosecutors vigorously pursue these cases and aim for maximum prison sentences for the person convicted. You can expect that the judges will treat these charges just as aggressively.

Being charged with lewd and lascivious offenses will undoubtedly be life-altering. These charges can cause irreparable harm to your life—impacting your career, family, and personal relationships. If you face these criminal charges, it would be best to arm yourself with enough knowledge to know what you are dealing with. In this article, we’ll take a look at what lewd and lascivious offenses are, how they can affect your life, and what you can do to protect yourself from these charges.

What is Lewd and Lascivious Conduct?

A lewd or lascivious charge or accusation is not only highly stressful but also incredibly damaging and detrimental to your livelihood and well-being. Sex crime charges are not handled lightly in the State of Florida. One single accusation can permanently damage and ruin your life. One conviction is enough to land you on the sex offender registry.

Lewd and lascivious conduct is offensive to the community’s standards of decency. Under Florida Statute 800.04 (6), this conduct criminalizes touching a child younger than 16 in a lewd or lascivious manner or soliciting a child at this age to commit lewd and lascivious acts and behavior.

The words ‘lewd’ and ‘lascivious’ are synonymous, which could mean lustful, wicked, and unchaste. The state considers this a strict liability crime. Furthermore, certain defenses cannot be used or raised to this crime.

What Are The Punishments for Lewd and Lascivious Conduct?

The penalties for lewd and lascivious conduct depend on whether you were an adult or a minor when the act happened.

Lewd Or Lascivious Conduct Committed By An Adult

If the defendant or accused is over the age of 18 years old, it is a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum time of 15 years in jail, 15 years of sex offender probation, and a hefty fine of $10,000.

The minimum jail sentence for this charge is 30 months and followed by at least two years of sex offender probation. Additionally, they may have to register as a sex offender.

Lewd Or Lascivious Conduct Committed By Minor

For a person under 18 years of age, it is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in jail, five years of sex offender probation, and a hefty fine of $5,000.

The minimum jail time is also 30 months, followed by at least two years of sex offender probation. They may also need to register as a sex offender.

Civil Penalties

In addition to these criminal punishments, a person may face civil consequences. Sex offender registration could mean that they are declared as a sex offender. In this case, they must comply with Florida’s sex offender registration laws. They also must follow the equivalent law of other states for the rest of their lives.

What is The Romeo and Juliet Exception?

If a young person qualifies for the Romeo and Juliet law, they can be exempted from the mandatory sex offender designation. If convicted of statutory sex crimes, they can avoid severe consequences of lifetime inclusion on the sex offender registry.

A court may exclude specific young people from registration under this law. You can only petition for exclusion if you meet their eligibility requirements.

This law didn’t create a ‘near-age’ defense to crimes involving unlawful sexual activity with minors, despite popular belief. Instead, this law allows specific convicted individuals to avoid designation as sexual predators or sexual offenders and is required to pass lifetime sexual offender registration requirements.

Under Florida Statute § 943.04354, the requirements for eligibility are as follows:

  • The crime involves a consensual sexual encounter with a minor between the age of 14-17.
  • The conviction is for a lewd or lascivious offense or sexual battery.
  • The minor was not more than four years younger than the defendant when the alleged act happened.
  • Mandatory registration as a sexual offender is solely due to a conviction related to the mentioned offenses and no other offenses.
  • The offender doesn’t have other convictions for lewd or lascivious offense, lewd or lascivious exhibition using a computer, or sexual battery.

What Are the Prohibited Defenses For Lewd and Lascivious Conduct?

Since lewd and lascivious conduct is a strict liability crime, you can’t raise certain defenses. Under Florida Statute § 800.04, the following are prohibited defenses:

  • Consent – You can still face conviction even if the alleged victim consented to the act. You cannot use their consent as a form of justification or defense.
  • Ignorance of the child’s age – Even if the supposed victim lied about their age or the accused was unaware, ignorance of the child’s age is still a prohibited defense.
  • Alleged victim’s lack of chastity – It is not allowed to argue in court that the alleged victim was sexually active before the alleged incident.

What Are The Defenses to Use Against Lewd and Lascivious Conduct?

Although several defenses are prohibited to this crime, some still apply. There are still two primary defenses that your side can use to fight against the lewd and lascivious conduct charge.

False Allegations

Common reasons for false allegations are:

  • Jealousy
  • Mental illness of the accuser
  • Manipulation of children by a parent
  • Mentally ill parents influencing their child

It is crucial to thoroughly investigate the accuser and expose any motive they could have for making a false accusation against you.

Lack of Lewd Intent

A core element of this kind of crime is intent. Your defense can include that there was no lewd intent behind the alleged conduct.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Lewd and lascivious conduct charges can result in harsh punishment for anyone. The stigma of a sex crime conviction will undoubtedly haunt you for the rest of your life. You must build a reliable and trusted legal defense to help you.

Do not wait to take action if you are recently accused or charged with lewd or lascivious acts. Seek out legal guidance and build your case. You need to find a skilled criminal defense attorney to help you develop a solid legal defense.

Our experienced attorneys at Hanlon Law Bradenton can help you fight against your charges. Moreover, you can trust us to help you secure the best possible result for your case, and we’ll do our utmost to ensure that your sex crime charges remain confidential.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Hanlon Law
1111 3rd Ave W Ste 310
Bradenton, FL 34205
(941) 253-0254

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