Lewd and Lascivious Conduct
Lewd and lascivious conduct charges are taken seriously in Florida. They are one category of lewd and lascivious crimes, which are sex crimes perpetrated against someone who is younger than 16 years old. Others are battery, exhibition, and molestation. Unfortunately, some children make nonsensical claims based on suggestions by a parent or something observed on television. Even being accused of lewd and lascivious conduct can have serious consequences. A conviction can result in a requirement that you register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. At Hanlon Law, St. Petersburg sex crime attorney Will Hanlon is committed to protecting the rights of the accused, and he may be able to craft a strong defense strategy to fight the charges.Lewd and Lascivious Conduct
Lewd or lascivious conduct can be charged if you intentionally touched someone under age 16 in a lewd or lascivious way. Alternatively, it can also be charged if you solicited somebody under age 16 to perpetrate a lewd or lascivious act. If you are 18 or older, you can be charged with second-degree felony lewd or lascivious conduct. This means that you face a maximum of 15 years of imprisonment, 15 years of sex offender probation, and $10,000 in fines. However, if you are less than 18, you will be charged with a third-degree felony for the same conduct.
There are a number of different strategies that may be appropriate. When there is only one victim, it may be possible for a defense attorney to cast doubt on that victim's credibility. This may be accomplished, for example, when the victim or their family has a mental illness, or when there is evidence of manipulation or suggestion by a parent. However, there are certain defenses that are not available. You cannot argue that you did not know the age of the victim or that the victim lied to you about their age. You also cannot argue consent.
In some cases, it is not possible to secure an acquittal or dismissal, but it is possible to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor. While prosecutors take sex crimes against children seriously, there are situations in which the facts seem ambiguous even to the prosecutor. It may be possible to negotiate to plead guilty to unnatural and lascivious acts or child abuse in exchange for a dismissal of the lewd and lascivious conduct charge. These other charges are preferable because they come with lesser sentences, and neither requires registration as a sex offender.
Often, there are multiple counts of lewd and lascivious conduct based on separate episodes of criminalized conduct, and in some cases, there are also other lewd and lascivious crimes charged, such as lewd and lascivious molestation. Together, multiple sex crime convictions can result in substantial time in prison. After a conviction, the court will assess victim injury points that need to be supported by competent substantial evidence. Victim injuries involve the physical injuries suffered by someone due to the primary offense for which a conviction was secured.
When the conviction is for non-penetration sexual contact (such as lewd and lascivious conduct), the sexual contact is scored according to section 921.0024 for sexual contact, even if there has been no physical injury. Section 921.0024 provides for 40 points for each conviction involving sexual contact. For example, if there are three separate sexual contacts, there can be 120 sexual contact points assessed. Sexual contact is not defined under the statute, but it includes the physical touching of sexual body parts under case law. If the lewd and lascivious conduct charge does not include a finding of sexual contact, the sexual contact points will not be assessed.
For some offenders, being made to register as a sex offender is a particularly painful punishment. If you were very close in age to the minor, you may qualify for the Romeo and Juliet exception, which allows you to petition the court to remove the sex offender registration requirement.Seek Advocacy from a Sex Crime Attorney in the St. Petersburg Area
The Special Victims Unit of the St. Petersburg Police Department investigates crimes involving sexual contact with children. If you are charged with lewd and lascivious conduct, you will need legal representation from a skillful sex crime lawyer. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation in St. Petersburg since 1994 and may be able to help. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.289.0222 or submit our online form.