Many adults mistake a younger person for someone older. However, in St. Petersburg and elsewhere in Florida, you can be convicted of statutory rape even if you mistakenly believed that a minor was over the age of consent. It is unlawful for an adult to have sex with a minor, even if the minor seems to be consenting. The basis for statutory rape laws is that minors are not able to give meaningful consent to sexual activities. Each state has its own age of consent, and in Florida, that age is 18. At Hanlon Law, we understand how terrifying it can be to be accused of a form of sexual battery like statutory rape. St. Petersburg statutory rape defense lawyer Will Hanlon is dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused.Statutory Rape or Unlawful Sexual Activity with Certain Minors
Statutory rape is one type of sexual battery. However, charges can be pursued in several different ways. It may be charged as sexual battery, it may be charged as lewd and lascivious battery, or it may be charged as unlawful sexual activity with certain minors.
Lewd and lascivious battery is often charged when statutory rape is involved. You can be convicted if the prosecutor can show beyond a reasonable doubt that you are an adult and had sexual penetration with a minor who was 13, 14, or 15. Consent by the minor does not enter into the calculation. You cannot defend yourself on the basis that you were mistaken about the minor's age. It is important to retain a statutory rape defense attorney in St. Petersburg rather than try to talk your way out of the charges yourself by claiming that you had made a simple mistake about the victim's age.
Someone who is at least 18 years old who perpetrates sexual battery against someone who is 12-18 without that person's consent and by using force or threats of retaliation or by administering an intoxicant will not be charged with merely statutory rape but will face a first-degree felony battery charge. This charge can be punished with up to life imprisonment. Similarly, someone who is under 18 years old and commits sexual battery on someone who is at least 12 years old without consent and in a situation that involves force or threats or an intoxicant can be charged with a first-degree felony.
Other charges that may be used instead of statutory rape charges or alongside statutory rape include contributing to the delinquency of a minor, unlawful sexual activity with certain minors, and lewd and lascivious molestation. If you impregnate a minor because of a statutory rape, you can be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. If you engage in sexual penetration with a minor who is 16 or 17, and you are at least 24 years old, you can be charged with unlawful sexual activity with certain minors. If no penetration was involved, you may be charged with lewd and lascivious molestation. However, this is a first-degree felony when a victim is less than 12 years old, and the defendant is at least 18 years old. There are even more serious charges possible when force is alleged or a minor suffers injuries to their sexual organs as a result of the sex. A St. Petersburg statutory rape defense attorney can explain the potential charges that you may be facing.
In some cases, people who are convicted of statutory rape need to register as sex offenders. For most people, this is a very troubling situation, and it is important to avoid the registration requirement to the extent possible. You can be charged with another crime if you are required to register as a sex offender but do not. There is an exception to the requirement of registering as a sex offender. If the victim was ages 14-17, and you are older than the victim by four years or less, what is known as the Romeo and Juliet exception applies.Seek Assistance from a Statutory Rape Defense Lawyer in the St. Petersburg Area
If you are accused of statutory rape in St. Petersburg, it can be helpful to retain legal counsel even before formal charges are filed. Our founder, St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney Will Hanlon, has been providing representation since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at 727-897-5413 or complete our online form.