Hassett & Associates, P.A.
Call 24/7 - (954) 791-3939 | Hablamos Español
Hassett & Associates, P.A.
Call 24/7 - (954) 791-3939 | Hablamos Español

Main Office:
6099 Stirling Road, Ste 217
Davie, FL 33314

Broward Office:
1327 SE 2nd Ave.
Ft Lauderdale, FL 33316

Miami Dade Office:
By Appointment Only
Miami, FL

Fort Lauderdale Sex Crimes Lawyer

Experienced and Respected Criminal Defense

Call 24/7 – (954) 791-3939

Help from a Fort Lauderdale Sex Crimes Lawyer

Facing charges of committing a sex crime in Florida is serious. Depending on your specific charges, a conviction could result in decades in prison, lifetime sex offender registration, and numerous collateral consequences that could impact you for the rest of your life. Sex crimes occur when someone physically or psychologically coerces someone to engage in sexual conduct against their will or sexually abuses another individual. Fort Lauderdale sex crimes lawyer Kenneth P. Hassett, Esq. defends people accused of all types of sex offenses and is prepared to mount an aggressive defense against the charges you are facing. Here’s some information about sex crimes in Florida, their potential penalties, and some available defenses.

Florida Sex Crimes

While you are supposed to enjoy the presumption of innocence until and unless the state proves your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, people who are arrested for sex offenses face significant pressure and stigma from the moment they are charged. Others around you might act like you are a predator or pervert. You might lose your job, relationships, and housing even when you haven’t been convicted. However, even if you are facing stigma, you still have the right to retain a lawyer and defend against your charges vigorously. Just like anyone else who is charged with a crime, you have constitutional rights that should be protected. Below are some of the sex crimes people are commonly charged with in Florida.

Crimes of Prostitution

Prostitution crimes are found in Florida Statutes Chapter 796. This chapter includes multiple prostitution-related offenses.

Under § 796.07, Fla. Stat. (2022), both prostitution and criminal solicitation of prostitutes are illegal. This statute also makes it illegal for people to use private property for prostitution.

Under § 796.06, Fla. Stat. (2022), it is illegal to rent a property for the purpose of prostitution or engaging in lewd behavior. Section 796.05, Fla. Stat. (2022) makes it illegal to derive support from criminal prostitution and to engage in pimping. Finally, § 796.04, Fla. Stat. (2022) makes it illegal for someone to coerce or compel another person into engaging in prostitution.

Crimes of Sexual Battery

Chapters 794 and 800 of the Florida Statutes include sexual battery crimes in Florida. Many different offenses are included as sexual battery crimes, including sexual assault, rape, statutory rape, and others. The penalties someone might face will depend on the defendant’s age, the victim’s age, whether the defendant is an authority figure, and a variety of factors such as previous sexual offenses or the use of a weapon.

Under § 794.11, Fla. Stat. (2022), sexual battery is defined as oral, anal, or vaginal penetration of another person with the defendant’s sex organ or a different object without the victim’s consent. Consent only exists if it was given intelligently, freely, and voluntarily. Someone does not freely consent to a sex act when they are coerced or unduly influenced.

Statutory Rape

Under § 800.04, Fla. Stat. (2022), sexual activity between a defendant and someone between the ages of 12 but less than 16 is criminalized. This is also known as statutory rape. You can’t defend against this charge by arguing that you didn’t know how old the victim was even if they lied to you about their age. This law also criminalizes other types of conduct, including lewd and lascivious acts and lewd molestation when a defendant touches another person’s sexual organs without that person’s consent or when the person is a minor who is incapable of consenting.

Indecent Exposure

Under § 800.03, Fla. Stat. (2022), it is illegal to engage in a lewd and lascivious exhibition. This offense is referred to as indecent exposure and occurs when someone displays their genitals in public in a lewd way.

Dissemination of Harmful Sexual Material to Minors

Chapter 847 of the Florida Statutes criminalizes the transmission or dissemination of materials deemed to be obscene to minors. These laws are meant to protect minors from sexual exploitation by adults. For example, under § 847.0133, Fla. Stat. (2022), it is a third-degree felony for someone to show a minor obscene materials.

Obscene materials are defined in § 847.001, Fla. Stat. (2022) as material that adults would find offensive under modern standards because of the material’s depiction of sexual conduct and appeal to prurient interests when it has no artistic, literary, political, or scientific value.

Penalties for Sexual Battery

The penalties for sexual battery offenses are found in § 794.011, Fla. Stat. (2022) and differ based on the victim’s and the perpetrator’s age, whether the victim was injured, and other factors. Under this statute, someone who attempts to or commits sexual battery on a victim’s sexual organs when the victim is under 12 and causes injuries may be penalized in one of the two following ways:

  • Subsection 2(a) – Defendant older than 18 and victim younger than 12 is a capital felony when the victim’s sexual organs are injured
  • Subsection 2(b) – Defendant under age 18 and victim younger than 12 with injuries to the victim’s sexual organs is a first-degree felony with up to life in prison and a $15,000 fine

The penalties for other types of sexual battery under § 794.011, Fla. Stat. (2022) include the following:

  • Subsection 3(a-b) – Any individual who commits sexual battery with the threat of using a deadly weapon or by using violence that could result in serious injuries can be charged with a life felony.
  • Subsection 4(a) – Anyone who is at least 18 and commits sexual assault or attempts to do so on a victim’s sexual organs when the victim is between the ages of 12 and 17 can be charged with a first-degree felony carrying up to life in prison.
  • Subsection 4(b) – Anyone who is at least 18 and who attempts or commits sexual assault on a victim’s sexual organs when the victim is 18 or older can be charged with a first-degree felony carrying up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Subsection 4(c) – Anyone under age 18 who attempts or commits sexual assault on a victim who is 12 or older will face a first-degree felony.
  • Subsection 5(a) – Someone who is at least 18 and commits sexual battery without physical violence but without consent on someone who is between the ages of 12 and 18 will face a first-degree felony.
  • Subsection 5(b) – Someone who is at least 18 and who commits sexual battery on a victim who is 18 or older without violence but without consent will face a second-degree felony carrying up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Subsection 5(c) – Someone who is under age 18 and who commits sexual battery on someone who is 12 or older without physical violence but without consent will face a second-degree felony carrying up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Sexual Battery Committed by Multiple Perpetrators

Under § 794.023, Fla. Stat. (2022), a sexual battery that is committed by multiple perpetrators can result in a reclassification of a sexual battery offense from a second-degree to a first-degree felony. Those that are already classified as first-degree felony offenses can be reclassified as life felonies.

Sexual Conduct With Students

Under § 800.101, Fla. Stat. (2022), sexual conduct between authority figures working in schools or related educational organizations and minors is illegal. When a school authority engages in sexual conduct with a student, they will face a second-degree felony carrying up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

Sex Trafficking

Human trafficking is viewed as a type of slavery through which people are sold and kept in the same way as objects under § 787.06, Fla. Stat. (2022). Sex trafficking occurs when someone sells another person for sexual entertainment, prostitution, or other criminal sexual activities such as the following:

  • Engaging in commercial sexual activity by trafficking victims for the production or sales of pornography and sexually explicit performances
  • Trafficking victims for their services such as the performance of sexual acts on clients or forced marriage
  • Trafficking victims for sexually explicit performances designed to sexually arouse buyers

Under § 787.06(4), Fla. Stat. (2022), the following punishments are available for trafficking victims for sexually explicit performances:

1. Perpetrator is the victim’s supervisor, guardian, or parent – Life felony carrying up to life in prison and a $15,000 fine

2. Branding of the victim for sex trafficking – Second-degree felony carrying up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine

Stalking Offenses

Stalking is illegal under § 784.048, Fla. Stat. (2022). Someone can be charged with stalking or cyberstalking when they continuously, willingly, and maliciously harass, pursue, or cyberstalk a victim. Under subsection (3), this offense is a first-degree misdemeanor carrying up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Under subsection (4), people who have previous stalking or harassment convictions will be charged with a third-degree felony carrying up to five years in prison and a maximum $5,000 fine. Aggravated stalking occurs under subsection (5) when a perpetrator stalks a minor who is 16 or younger. This offense is a third-degree felony carrying prison for up to five years and a maximum fine of $5,000.

Under § 784.049, Fla. Stat. (2022), sexual cyberstalking is defined as occurring when someone shares a sexual image of the victim that was intended to be private or when the person was unintentionally photographed. This includes any picture that depicts the victim’s nudity.

Elements of Sexual Assault of a Minor

Prosecutors must prove each of the following elements of sexual assault of a minor under § 794.011(2)(a) and (2)(b) beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction:

  • The defendant
  • Used an object or their sexual organs
  • To penetrate the victim’s sexual organs or mouth
  • And injured the victim’s sexual organs

Under § 794.021, Fla. Stat. (2022), a defendant can’t defend against this offense based on the defendant’s belief that the victim was older or the victim’s misrepresentation of their age.

Prosecution and Defense of Florida Sex Crimes

Prosecutors have a difficult job when they prosecute sex crimes. Many of these allegations are not backed by physical evidence. However, prosecutors will still try these cases before juries and judges even when they do not have enough evidence to support a conviction. This is because of the existing biases prosecutors have against defendants charged with sex crimes and in favor of alleged victims.

Police officers also often quickly investigate sex crime allegations to try to clear cases rather than securing enough evidence to charge the alleged perpetrator. When the police rush to judgment, they risk charging the wrong people for the offense.

Many sexual abuse cases involve delayed disclosures by the victims of abuse perpetrated by someone the victims know. This frequently occurs in child sex abuse cases. When this occurs, the police and prosecutors will rely on experts to opine about how common it is for victims to wait to come forward and that delays do not indicate the victim is lying. Just like anyone else, alleged victims sometimes fabricate allegations to get revenge against their alleged perpetrators for some other type of real or imagined wrong. Others might be malleable to suggestion and conform their stories to what they believe they should say rather than what actually happened.

Because of these issues, defending against sex crimes requires thorough cross-examination by a Fort Lauderdale sex crimes lawyer of all witnesses and alleged victims. Attorney Kenneth P. Hassett, Esq. thoroughly investigates all sex crimes cases he handles to uncover evidence that can be used to show that the testimony of certain witnesses is not credible. This type of evidence can be used during cross-examination to show the judge and jury that the testimony should not be taken at face value and hold the prosecutor to their burden of proof.

Unfortunately, many people who are charged with sex crimes have already been convicted in the court of public opinion long before they reach trial. Even if they are acquitted, they can face the ruining of their careers, homes, and social lives. People who fabricate sex offense allegations against another person should face prosecution because their actions undermine true sex abuse victims.

Sting Operations and Defenses

Police departments throughout Florida engage in undercover sting operations to try to catch sex offenders. Overzealous officers sometimes charge people with sex crimes after being caught up in sting operations even when they haven’t committed the offenses for which they have been charged. Some officers pose as children online to try to engage in conversations with adults. Female officers might dress like prostitutes and hang out in known prostitution areas to try to catch would-be “johns”. In some cases, officers will post false advertisements on websites to try to lure people into downloading illegal pornography or soliciting prostitutes.

Entrapment Defense

Under § 777.201, Fla. Stat. (2022), a potential defense in cases involving sting operations is entrapment. This is an affirmative defense that can be raised when an officer has engaged in actions that violate the defendant’s rights to due process. Entrapment occurs when an officer persuades or coerces a defendant to commit a crime that the defendant would otherwise not have committed by overcoming the defendant’s will.

Since entrapment is an affirmative defense, the defendant will have the burden of proof to show that the crime would not have been committed without the officer’s entrapment. If the defendant proves this by a preponderance of the evidence, they must be acquitted. The decider of fact will determine whether the burden has been met.

Withdrawal Defense

Under § 777.04(5), Fla. Stat. (2022), defendants can raise an affirmative defense of withdrawal against an allegation of criminal solicitation. To prove this affirmative defense, the defendant must present evidence that they withdrew from the crime of solicitation voluntarily and completely and prevented the act from occurring or abandoning it. They can also show that they persuaded the victim to abandon the act or stopped others from committing the crime as previously agreed.

CODIS and DNA Evidence

The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) is a database of DNA profiles maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This system includes DNA profiles of people who have been convicted of crimes as well as those of unknown criminal perpetrators that have been gathered from crime scenes. Police departments can upload unknown DNA samples to CODIS and compare samples to those contained in the database to try to find a match.

A match in CODIS can’t be admitted in court without being confirmed, but it can allow officers to identify a suspect. If there is a match, analysts must obtain a DNA sample from the person’s profile and compare it to the suspect’s DNA sample before the match can be admitted at trial. Since juries tend to place strong evidentiary value on DNA evidence, CODIS can be a powerful tool for prosecutors and the police. While juries are instructed to the contrary, they could still believe that DNA evidence is conclusive proof of a defendant’s guilt. However, a good defense attorney can show the jury that scientific evidence is not always definitive. Analysts are human and sometimes commit errors. They can also lie about the results they have obtained. All of the evidence must be carefully examined and thoroughly investigated to identify potential defenses and problems with how the state’s investigation and analyses were conducted.

Varying Penalties for Convictions of Sex Crimes

Under § 775.082, Fla. Stat. (2022), there are varying penalties for crimes based on the crime of conviction and other factors surrounding the incident. Sex crimes can be punished as second-degree or first-degree misdemeanors. They can also be punished as third-degree, second-degree, first-degree, life, or capital felonies.

Sex crimes that are considered to be relatively minor such as the solicitation of a prostitute are charged as misdemeanors carrying minimal jail time for first offenses. Depending on the defendant’s criminal record, they might qualify for diversion and have the offense kept off their record as long as they successfully complete the terms. By contrast, sex crimes involving violence or underaged victims causing serious bodily injury can result in capital sentences or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Other convictions might carry a term of years in prison with the possibility of parole or up to life in prison. After completing a prison or jail sentence, a convicted person will also likely have to serve a probationary sentence.

Collateral Consequences of Sex Crime Convictions

Being convicted of a sex crime can come with numerous collateral consequences. Depending on the type of sex offense, some people will have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. These people must register with the sheriff’s office in the county where they live. If they fail to meet their registration requirements and update their information when required, they can be charged with another crime of failing to register as a sex offender. A judge can make a written finding that a defendant must register as a sex offender and that the defendant is a sexual predator. People who are convicted of specific sex offenses are required to register as sex offenders, including those who plead guilty, are found guilty at trial, or enter no-contest pleas.

Those who must register as sex offenders can also be required to give up access to the internet under § 775.21, Fla. Stat. (2022). Sheriff’s offices must also publish public notices about the offenders that register with them.

Under § 775.215, Fla. Stat. (2022), some registered sex offenders also face residency restrictions and can live no closer than 1,000 feet from a daycare, park, or school. This can make it difficult for many convicted sex offenders to find safe housing, and some end up struggling with homelessness and difficulties with maintaining their registration requirements.

Get Help From Fort Lauderdale Sex Crimes Lawyer Kenneth P. Hassett

Being accused of a sex crime can be overwhelming and can potentially destroy your life. If you are convicted, you could face decades in prison, stiff fines, and registration as a sex offender or sexual predator for the rest of your life. The experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer at Hassett & Associates has decades under his belt aggressively advocating for his clients and protecting their rights. Attorney Kenneth Hassett understands the high stakes involved with sex crime allegations and believes that everyone who is accused is entitled to the strongest possible defense.

If you are facing these types of charges, you should contact Hassett & Associates as soon as possible to schedule a consultation. We understand the stigma associated with sex offense allegations and will work hard to restore and protect your reputation and your liberty interests. We can be reached 24 hours per day and are here to help you with your case. Call Hassett & Associates today to speak with a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer about your case at (954) 791-3939.

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Client Testimonials

  • Dear Mr. Hassett,

    There aren’t enough words to thank you for all your have done for us. From the beginning you didn’t sugar coat anything. You told us as it is. Thank you for your advice and suggestions which helped in the case and of course your experience , time and effort.

    Thank you.

    Marie and Diane
  • Best of the Best

    This being my first time arrested and going through the court system, I am thankful that I used Mr. Hassett. Charged with four third degree felony counts I was facing jail time. He kept me out of jail by getting me five years probation and after two and a half years, he was able to have my probation removed. I recommend people hire him because he is an excellent and honest attorney.

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  • Beyond belief
    Kenneth has done the impossible when it’s come to my case. Everything he said he would help me with, he’s gone above and beyond. Take and apply his advice and he will see it through you have a victory in your hands. Thanks again Ken you’ve helped me get my life back on track couldn’t have done it.

  • Ken Hassett and his law firm are a pleasure to work with. He’s honest, clear in communication, dedicated, has great follow through, he’s friendly and professional. He helped our family to clear up a case involving our teen, he guided us from day one to our final day, resolving our situation satisfactorily. I would highly recommend Ken Hassett’s law firm and we would certainly retain him in the future if ever needed.

    Mrs. B.
  • An appreciative client
    Ken was extremely helpful to me regarding an issue involving my son in Florida. It was not possible for me to go to Florida at the time but Ken kept me posted along the way. I am very grateful for all his helpfulness and expertise. I would definitely recommend him to others.

  • Great experience
    Great and in-depth knowledge of all the situations, specially mine. Well informed and easily accessible for all sorts of clarifications during the entire process. 24/7 access and availability for recommendations and executions of steps that suit your need.

  • Too Good To Be True
    I used the services Kenneth Hassett & Associates for my legal proceedings and I was pleasantly surprized. I was obviously skeptical initially, but after speaking with Mr. Hassett, I felt comfortable, that i was in good hands. Everything that was said to me, materialized.
    You would not be disappointed.

Recent Sex Crimes Case Results

Charges: Aggravated Stalking
County: Miami-Dade
Facts: Female client was alleged to have been stalking and threatening the other woman in a love triangle
Results: Case Dismissed

Charges: Prostitution
County: Miami-Dade
Facts: Alleged Payment for Sexual Contact
Results: Case Dismissed, Record Expunged

Charges: Sexual Battery
County: Miami-Dade
Facts: Alleged Unconsented Touching of a Sexual Nature, Resulting in No Injury
Results: Case Dismissed

Charges: Solicitation of Prostitution
County: Miami-Dade
Facts: Alleged Solicitation of Prostitution of an Undercover Police Officer
Results: Case Dismissed, Record Expunged

Charges: Solicitation of Prostitution
County: Miami-Dade
Facts: Client allegedly offered money for oral sex
Results: Case Dismissed, Record Expunged

Charges: Solicitation of Prostitution
County: Broward
Facts: Client allegedly offered money to an undercover police officer for sex
Results: Case Dismissed

Kenneth P. Hassett, Esq. Awards & Ratings