Statutory Rape

Tampa Attorney Advocating for Defendants Facing Sex Crime Charges

Under Florida Statutes § 794.05, unlawful sexual activity with certain minors is punishable by law. Experienced sex crime lawyer Will Hanlon at Hanlon Law has been representing people accused of statutory rape and other sex crimes throughout the Tampa Bay area for more than 20 years. He understands not only how legally complex these cases may be but also how devastating a conviction is for the accused and their family. As a Tampa statutory rape defense lawyer, he works hard in pursuit of a fair outcome for each client under the circumstances of their specific case.

Florida’s statutory scheme concerning sex crimes consists of three major branches: lewd or lascivious acts, sexual battery, and unlawful sex with minors. Whereas the crime traditionally known as “rape” is included within the broader category of sexual battery, the offense often known as “statutory rape” is a crime that falls under the category of unlawful sex with minors. “Rape” is defined primarily by whether or not the alleged victim consented to the sexual act in question. “Statutory rape” is a crime simply because the statute says it is a crime. In most cases, the same sexual act between the same two people would be legal if one of them were not a minor.

Defining the Crime of Statutory Rape Under Florida Law

Lack of consent is not an element of the crime of statutory rape. Section 794.05 outlaws even consensual sexual activity (oral, anal, or vaginal penetration or union) between people who are 16 or 17 years of age and people who are age 24 or older. There are some possible defenses to the crime of unlawful sexual activity with certain minors, and a careful exploration of your situation with a statutory rape defense attorney in Tampa may illuminate whether any of them applies to you. However, the statute makes clear that neither the victim’s consent nor their prior sexual conduct is among these defenses. Likewise, the defendant’s belief regarding the victim’s age is not relevant to the crime of statutory rape. Even if the defendant honestly thought that the person with whom they engaged in a sexual act was at least 18, this is not a defense. This is true even if the alleged “victim” lied about their age.

Unlawful sexual activity with a minor is a serious criminal offense that may result in a conviction of a second-degree felony, a prison sentence of up to 15 years, and up to $10,000 in fines. The defendant may also be placed on sex offender probation and be required to register as a sex offender. In situations in which there were four years or less between the defendant’s and the victim’s ages, it may be possible to avoid registration as a sex offender under the so-called “Romeo and Juliet” law, but the defendant will still be convicted of statutory rape and sentenced accordingly.

Given the harshness of Florida’s sex with a minor laws, it is extremely important that a person accused of statutory rape talk to a knowledgeable attorney about their situation as soon as possible after being arrested or learning that they may be under criminal investigation. False accusations are not uncommon in these types of cases and may be motivated by an alleged victim’s jealousy or mental illness. Child custody disputes may also lead one parent to accuse the other parent – or the other parent’s spouse or partner – of a sex crime.

Hire a Knowledgeable Statutory Rape Defense Lawyer in Tampa

While it is not always possible to avoid a conviction in a statutory rape case, the chances of having the charges reduced or dismissed are generally much better if the defendant receives quality legal representation. A public defender is not likely to spend the considerable amount of care, time, and attention that such a case requires in order to fully protect the defendant’s rights. Tampa statutory rape defense attorney Will Hanlon does everything legally possible to help his clients fight unfounded charges and protect their constitutional rights during an arrest, investigation, or trial for a sex crime or another offense. Call us at 813-228-7095 or contact us online to set up an appointment with a rape defense lawyer.