Florida law enforcement officers and prosecutors take sex crime cases very seriously. The Sunshine State has some of the harshest laws on the books, especially when it comes to offenses involving victims who are minors.
But what happens when the person accused of the crime is also a juvenile?
Sex crime cases against minors are serious matters that can have life-long consequences for everyone involved. They can come with significant prison sentences and money penalties, not to mention the requirement that the person convicted of the crime register as a sex offender. These cases also often raise some complicated legal issues, like those related to consent and mental capacity.
Florida law generally makes it a crime to have sex with anyone under the age of 18. The penalties vary widely based on the specific circumstances. Still, a person convicted of statutory rape faces up to 15 years in prison. Repeat offenders may be looking at up to four decades behind bars.
There are a couple of important exemptions to the law that can come up in cases involving sexual contact between consenting teenagers. A person who is under the age of 24 can’t be convicted of statutory rape if it involves sex with a person who is 16 or 17 years old at the time. Sex with a minor who’s under 16 remains a crime, even if the person charged with the crime is also a minor.
Florida’s “Romeo and Juliet” law lifts the requirement that a person convicted of statutory rape register as a sex offender in some cases. A person who was close in age to the victim at the time of the sexual conduct can petition a court to rule that he or she need not register.
Florida’s ban on sexting focuses largely on the sharing of nude or other illicit photos involving subjects who are minors. It’s generally a form of child pornography, which also includes the storage of such images on a computer, phone or other device. A person who then crosses state lines with child pornography may also be looking at federal sex crimes.
When the sexting is between teens, the law gets complicated. State law doesn’t make it a crime for minors to consensually send or receive nude or illicit images. A person who then shares that image or video with others may be looking at a criminal offense, however.
The law also doesn’t punish people who receive unsolicited sexts from a person other than the person pictured in the sext. That is, so long as the person who receives the material takes adequate steps to report it and doesn’t otherwise share the sext.
If you or a loved one has been charged with—or is even suspected of—a sex crime in Florida, it’s crucial you seek the assistances of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
The Florida sex crime lawyers at Whittel & Melton represent clients throughout the Sunshine State who have been charged with a wide variety of offenses, including sexual assault, rape, internet solicitation and child pornography. That includes juveniles charged with sex crimes. We work aggressively to fight these charges head on in order to get charges dropped or reduced whenever possible.
We have offices throughout the state, including in Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Pensacola. Contact us online or call (866) 608-5529 for a free evaluation.
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