Child molestation is defined in § 800.04(5), Fla. Stat. (2022) as occurring when someone touches a child under the age of 16 on the buttocks, genitals, or breasts or forces or entices the child to touch the perpetrator in the same areas. Touching a child’s clothing that covers those areas also can be charged as lewd or lascivious molestation.
People who allegedly committed acts of lewd or lascivious molestation of a child could also be charged with other criminal offenses, including the following:
These additional charges might be filed based on the particular acts that might be alleged to have occurred. Prosecutors also frequently stack multiple criminal charges against defendants to try to secure convictions.
It’s important to note that sex offenses involving children younger than age 16 are strict liability crimes. This means that it is no defense to the crime that the defendant was unaware that the child was younger than age 16 at the time of the offense or that the child consented to engage in sexual activity with the defendant.
The penalties for lewd and lascivious molestation in Florida differ based on the ages of the perpetrator and the victim as follows:
• Defendant age 18 or older with a victim younger than 12 – Life felony punishable by life in prison or a term of 25 years to life followed by lifetime sex offender probation under § 775.082(3)(a)(4), Fla. Stat. (2022)
• Defendant age 18 or older with a victim between the ages of 12 to less than 16 – Second-degree felony carrying up to 15 years in prison under § 775.082(3)(d), Fla. Stat. (2022)
• Defendant under age 18 with a victim younger than age 12 – Second-degree felony carrying up to 15 years in prison under § 775.082(3)(d), Fla. Stat. (2022)
• Defendant under age 18 with a victim from age 12 to less than 16 – Third-degree felony carrying up to five years in prison under § 775.082(3)(e), Fla. Stat. (2022)
If a defendant is convicted of second-degree felony lewd and lascivious battery, the defendant must receive a minimum prison sentence of 34.5 months in prison. The court can also sentence the defendant to 15 years of probation, $10,000 in fines, or up to 15 years in prison.
In addition to the potential criminal penalties, a conviction for lewd and lascivious molestation in Florida carries other collateral consequences. People who are convicted of this type of offense will have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. If they fail to comply with the sex offender registration requirements, they can face additional charges for failing to register as a sex offender. Appearing on the sex offender registry means that the person’s picture, address, name, offense details, and other information will be public and easily accessible online.
In addition to lifetime sex offender registration, people might spend years serving sex offender probation up to the rest of their lives. Registered sex offenders in Florida are prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare, and they also can’t work in a job at which children might regularly be present.
As a result, many people who have been convicted of lewd and lascivious molestation in Florida struggle to find and maintain employment. Many employers conduct employment background checks and will see the conviction information. People convicted of child sex offenses also might be ineligible for housing assistance and struggle to find places to live. Sex offenders also might face significant stigma in their communities and lose friendships and the relationships they have with family members.
Both the criminal penalties and the collateral consequences of a conviction for an act of lewd and lascivious molestation are severe. Because of this, it is critical for anyone facing these types of charges to immediately contact Fort Lauderdale child molestation lawyer Kenneth P. Hassett to aggressively defend against the allegations against them.
The potential defenses against child molestation charges will vary based on the facts and circumstances of your case. Experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer Kenneth Hassett will carefully review the evidence the state has gathered to identify the best defense strategies to use. In some cases, attorney Hassett might be able to secure an outright dismissal of the charges or obtain a court order to suppress some of the evidence the police and prosecutor have gathered. If evidence is suppressed, this means that the prosecutor won’t be able to use it against you to try to secure a conviction.
Some examples of when some of the evidence might be suppressed include the following:
Evidence gathered by the police after they have violated a defendant’s constitutional rights to remain silent, to be represented by an attorney, or against unreasonable search or seizure can be suppressed as fruit of the poisonous tree. This means that any evidence the police illegally gathered should be suppressed. If your lawyer sees the police committed constitutional violations during their investigation, your attorney will file motions asking the court to suppress the evidence that was illegally gathered as a result.
When evidence is suppressed, the prosecutor’s case can be significantly weakened. If the prosecutor is no longer able to meet their burden of proof, they might be left with no other choice than to dismiss the charges outright or extend a plea offer to a lesser, non-sex offense.
In addition to constitutional defenses, some other defenses that might be available include the following:
In some cases, allegations of child molestation are made by a parent against the other during the middle of a contentious divorce or custody battle to try to gain the upper hand in the proceeding. If this happened in your case, your lawyer might want copies of the pleadings in your custody or divorce case.
Since many people are wrongly accused of committing child molestation, defense lawyers might aggressively attack the allegations against their clients. False allegations of child sexual molestation might be motivated by the accuser’s jealousy, a quest for revenge, or mental illness. A Fort Lauderdale child molestation lawyer at Hassett & Associates will thoroughly investigate your case and mount an aggressive defense strategy to protect your rights and freedom.
Several defenses are prohibited against lewd and lascivious molestation charges in Florida under the state’s statutory law. Under § 800.04(2), Fla. Stat. (2022) and § 800.04(3), Fla. Stat. (2022), you can’t defend against these types of charges by asserting any of the following arguments:
Being accused of a serious sex crime can be both overwhelming and frightening. If you’ve learned that you are under investigation for child molestation, have been accused by someone else of committing this type of offense, or have already been charged, you should reach out to Hassett & Associates immediately. Fort Lauderdale child molestation lawyer Kenneth P. Hassett has successfully defended many people against serious crimes and is prepared to aggressively defend against the allegations against you. Call us today to schedule a confidential consultation at (954) 791-3939.
Kenneth P. Hassett, Esq. Awards & Ratings