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Lewd or lascivious molestation is a crime involving sexual conduct with a child who is younger than the age of 16, when the conduct is not lewd or lascivious battery. It occurs when someone intentionally touches the private parts of a person younger than 16 years old or gets the minor to touch them in a sexual way. “Lewd” and “lascivious” describe behavior that involves sensual intent, lust, wickedness, licentiousness, or lack of chastity by the person who is acting. If you are charged with lewd and lascivious molestation, you should retain an experienced Tampa sex crime lawyer. At Hanlon Law, we are committed to protecting the rights of the accused.


You may assume that if you did not know a child’s age or believed a child to be older, you can escape being charged for a crime. However, this is not actually true in Florida. Lewd and lascivious molestation can be charged even if you truly believed the victim to be older or thought that you had gotten consent from a young person to behave in a sexual way. The penalties for this crime will vary based on your age as well as the age of the alleged victim.

Under Florida Statute section 800.04, lewd or lascivious molestation can be established by a prosecutor if they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally touched (in a lewd or lascivious way) the breasts, genital area or genitals, buttocks, or clothing over them of a person who is under 16 years old. Alternatively, it can be established by proving that you forced or enticed someone under 16 years old to touch you in a lewd or lascivious way.

If you are 18 years old or older, and the prosecutor establishes that you perpetrated lewd and lascivious molestation against someone who was under age 12, you can be charged with a life felony. If the molestation happened on or after September 1, 2015, you may face a life imprisonment sentence or a split sentence that involves at least 25 years in prison, followed by probation or community control for the rest of your life. If the acts were committed on or after July 1, 2008, and it is a second or subsequent conviction for lewd and lascivious molestation, you will face life imprisonment.

What if you were 18 or older when the act happened, but the victim was 12-16? In that case, it will be charged as a felony of the second degree. If you were under 18, and the victim was 12-16, it will be charged as a felony of the third degree. However, it is a felony of the first degree if you were 18 or older, and the victim was 12-16, but you were previously convicted of kidnapping, luring, or enticing a child, or of false imprisonment if the victim was a minor, and while committing the acts, you also performed a sexual battery or lewd act.

There are defenses to sex crimes like lewd and lascivious molestation, but they are severely restricted compared to some other criminal charges. It may be possible to raise constitutional violations or show insufficient evidence. Sometimes it is possible to raise doubts about a witness’ credibility. In other cases, it is possible to negotiate a plea to a lesser-included offense.


If you are accused of lewd and lascivious molestation, you must take the accusation seriously. Your freedom is at stake. A conviction may result not only in imprisonment but also in a requirement that you register as a sex offender, a requirement that can haunt you for the rest of your life. It is crucial to the outcome of your case to have an experienced Tampa attorney advocating on your behalf as early as possible. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has provided a strong, aggressive defense to people accused of crimes such as lewd and lascivious molestation since 1994. He strives to provide personalized representation and service to his clients. Call Hanlon Law at 813-228-7095 or use our online form to set up an appointment. We are also available if you need a statutory rape lawyer to help mount a defense against that type of charge.