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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
The penalties for other types of sexual battery under § 794.011, Fla. Stat. (2022) include the following:
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.
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.
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:
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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kenneth P. Hassett, Esq. Awards & Ratings