Lewd and Lascivious Battery
You should not try to handle an accusation that you committed lewd and lascivious battery on your own. This is a very serious charge, and in the process of trying to explain your way out of it with the police, you may incriminate yourself. What you say can be used to secure a conviction. With a conviction come serious potential penalties, including incarceration, thousands of dollars in fines, sex offender probation, and the requirement that you register as a sex offender. If you violate that requirement, you can be charged with another crime. At Hanlon Law, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused. You should call St. Petersburg sex crime attorney Will Hanlon if you are being investigated for a sex crime involving a minor.Lewd and Lascivious Battery
To establish lewd or lascivious battery under Florida Statute section 800.4, the prosecutor must prove one of two scenarios. The prosecutor needs to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you engaged in sexual activity with someone who was 12-16 years old. Sexual activity is vaginal, anal, or oral penetration by a sex organ or object. Acts done for a bona fide medical purpose are excluded from this definition. Alternatively, the prosecutor needs to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you enticed, forced, or encouraged someone under the age of 16 to be involved in bestiality, prostitution, sadomasochistic abuse, or another sexual act.
In some cases, the victim is disinterested in testifying, and a victim's family member accuses the defendant. However, in other cases, a prosecution is pursued due to a teen pregnancy and DNA evidence.
There are a number of defenses that you cannot raise when accused of lewd and lascivious battery. These include consent and lack of chastity. In other words, your lawyer cannot argue that the victim had sex with other people before you. You cannot argue that the victim agreed to have sex because, as a minor, this consent is not considered meaningful. The age of consent in Florida is 18. Importantly, you cannot raise the defense that you did not know the victim's age or that the victim misrepresented their age to you. Ignorance is not a defense.
If the prosecutor successfully proves their case, you can be convicted of a second-degree felony, which carries serious penalties, including a term of imprisonment of 15 years and $10,000 in fines. Even if you get sex offender probation, you may be severely restricted in where you can go, and you will be required to register as a sex offender. For many people, this is a particularly painful part of being convicted for lewd and lascivious battery, particularly when the conviction is based on a consensual sexual relationship.
Under certain circumstances, you may be eligible to petition for removal from the sex offender registry requirement. You will need to show that the minor victim was no more than four years younger than you and that they were 14, 15, 16, or 17. You must be able to show that your registration as a sex offender is solely because of the lewd and lascivious battery conviction, rather than some other sex crime as well. You cannot have other convictions for lewd and lascivious offenses or sexual battery. You should be aware that even if you qualify, the trial judge has discretion about whether to allow the removal.
Although defenses are more limited with lewd and lascivious battery charges, you should not despair. In some cases, it is possible to raise a reasonable doubt by showing that the witnesses are not credible. In other cases, there are procedural or constitutional defenses. For example, in cases in which lewd and lascivious battery is charged due to a teenage pregnancy revealing the sexual intercourse, but it takes time to pursue the charges, it may be possible to raise a statute of limitations defense.Hire an Experienced Sex Crime Attorney in St. Petersburg
If you are charged with lewd and lascivious battery in St. Petersburg, you should consult an aggressive St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney. There may be strong defenses available. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation since 1994 and may be able to help. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.289.0222 or complete our online form.