Is Sexual Harassment a Crime in Florida?

Most people recognize that sexual harassment in the workplace is not only inappropriate but may also constitute grounds for a civil lawsuit. Many people do not know, however, if acts that are considered sexual harassment veer into criminal territory as well. If you are accused of sexual harassment or any offense of a sexual nature, it is in your best interest to seek advice from a knowledgeable Tampa criminal defense attorney regarding your rights and what you can anticipate if you are charged with a crime.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Generally, sexual harassment is the term used to define the act of engaging in uninvited sexual conduct in a work environment. For example, an employer or supervisor may request sexual favors from an employee in order to obtain or keep a job or benefits. In other instances, inappropriate sexual comments or behavior may create a hostile work environment that changes the condition of other people’s employment. Numerous acts may be regarded as sexual harassment, including lewd comments and gestures, unwanted touching, and sharing of pornographic images.

Is Sexual Harassment a Crime in Florida?

Depending on the nature of the offender’s behavior, acts that are regarded as sexual harassment may also provide grounds for criminal charges. For example, if sexual harassment involves a physical assault, it may constitute sexual battery, which is the penetration of an individual’s anus, vagina, or sex organ with an object or the actor’s sex organ, without the individual’s consent. Notably, the law states that consent does not include submission that is coerced, and a person’s failure to physically resist the actor does not constitute consent. Similarly, indecent exposure, or the act of exposing one’s sex organs, is often both sexual harassment and a criminal offense.

Another act of sexual harassment that may be considered a crime is sexual cyberharassment. Under Florida law, sexual cyberharassment occurs when a person posts sexually explicit images of another individual on the internet without the individual’s consent. Images, as the term is used in the statute, include pictures, videos, films, and representations. An image will be deemed sexually explicit if it shows nudity or a person engaging in sexual acts.

In some instances, a person accused of sexual harassment may be charged with a crime even if he or she does not have any contact with the alleged victim. For instance, in Florida, it is unlawful to stalk someone, and a harasser stalking a person he or she works with may be considered both sexual harassment and a crime. Stalking is defined as harassing, following, or cyberstalking a person. While stalking is usually charged as a misdemeanor, in cases in which it involves a credible threat against the victim, it may be charged as a felony.

Meet with an Experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney

Behavior that is considered sexually inappropriate may not only be deemed harassment but, in some instances, may also give rise to criminal charges. If you are charged with a sex crime, it is prudent to meet with an attorney to evaluate your options. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is an experienced sex crime defense attorney with the knowledge and experience needed to help you seek a just result, and if you hire him, he will fight tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Hanlon through the form online or at 813-228-7095 to set up a meeting.