A 21-year-old man was arrested and charged with lewd and lascivious battery and interference with child custody after the Marion County Sheriff’s Office learned that the man allegedly picked up a 12-year-old girl from her home and had sex with her.
According to reports, detectives believed the pair had been sending text messages and making phone calls to one another.
Detectives tracked the man down at a mobile home where he supposedly denied knowing the girl’s whereabouts. The accused allegedly allowed police officials to search his phone, but no text messages or calls to the girl were found.
The man’s phone rang in the presence of police and the man supposedly gave officials permission to answer the call. According to police, the girl was on the line and told officials she was at a nearby motel.
The girl allegedly told police the man picked her up from her house after she snuck out and took her to the motel, where they had sex.
The man was taken to the Marion County Jail.
Florida law defines lewd and lascivious battery as a person who has sexual relations with a minor between the ages of 12 and 16. Consent cannot be used as a defense for a lewd and lascivious battery charge because the State does not have to prove the sexual act was forced, just that sexual activity transpired. Even though consent cannot be used as a defense for this crime at trial, it can provide the prosecution and the jury with the knowledge that the victim was a willing participant to the sexual activity. This can make a difference in the case, so that the jury does not assume that the sex was coerced or forced and elect to punish the accused based on a misjudgment.
Under Florida law, lewd and lascivious battery is a second degree felony. A first time offender facing this charge could be facing prison time anywhere between 7.5 years to 15 years. Additionally, if convicted of the charge, the person would be classified as a sexual offender and would be forced to follow sex offender registration laws in Florida as well as throughout the United States.
Simply being accused of lewd and lascivious battery does not mean that you are guilty of a sex crime. Oftentimes, there are mitigating circumstances associated with these charges that the prosecution has overlooked. By contacting the Florida Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton once you have learned of an accusation, we can attempt to provide crucial information to the State Attorney to avoid criminal charges entirely or to greatly reduce original charges.
If you have been accused of lewd and lascivious battery in Marion County or anywhere in the state of Florida, contact the Florida Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton online or call our Ocala office at 352-369-5334 or toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).
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