Being convicted of a crime in Florida can result in serious repercussions. From fines to jail time to stigma, there are a number of ways in which a criminal conviction can change your life.
Allegations of child molestation can be especially damaging to your life and reputation.
If you have been charged with child molestation in Florida, you may be wondering what you can do. When in doubt about how to move forward, contact a child molestation lawyer to discuss your options and potential next steps.
Dealing with a charge for child molestation can understandably feel overwhelming. However, it is important to remember that a charge on its own does not mean conviction. Know that there are things you can do to fight these charges.
OrlandoDefense.com is a Florida law firm that focuses solely on criminal defense.
Thus, when you hire our team, you can rest assured knowing that we have the tools, resources, and experience you need and will give your case the attention it deserves. Give us a call today to discuss your case and see how we can help.
Child Molestation Definition Under Florida Law
Being charged with child molestation may come as a shock, especially if you are not guilty of the crime.
So exactly what counts as molestation of a child under Florida law?
Florida law criminalizes “lewd or lascivious molestation.” Specifically, Florida’s child molestation statute prohibits any person from intentionally touching—in a lewd or lascivious manner—a child under 16 years of age in the following areas:
- Breasts; or
- The clothing covering such areas.
Additionally, enticing a child under the age of 16 to touch the perpetrator in the same areas amounts to molestation under Florida law.
It is also important to note that “lewd” and “lascivious” mean the same thing for the purposes of this statute. Both terms refer to having a sensual intent when committing the act in question.
If you did not meet all the elements of “lewd or lascivious molestation” of a child under Florida law, you should not be convicted. If you are in need of a child molestation lawyer, OrlandoDefense.com can provide you with the representation you need to defend against these and other criminal charges.
Punishment for Child Molestation in Florida
Punishment for child molestation in Florida can be severe. However, the extent of your potential punishment may vary based on a variety of factors.
Both the age of the alleged victim and the age of the perpetrator will influence the severity of a child molestation charge.
Penalties for an Adult Perpetrator
A perpetrator convicted of molesting a victim under 12 years old commits a “life felony.” This means that the felony stays on their permanent record forever.
A defendant charged with a life felony may face:
- A minimum sentence of 25 years in prison;
- A maximum sentence of life in prison;
- A $10,000 fine; and
- A lifetime of sex offender probation.
A conviction for molesting a victim under 12 years old carries the most severe penalties as compared to other molestation charges.
A perpetrator convicted of molesting a victim over the age of 12 but younger than 16 commits a second degree felony and may face:
- A maximum sentence of 15 years in prison;
- Fifteen years of sex offender probation; and
- A $10,000 fine.
If you have questions about the potential penalties for your charge, contact a child molestation lawyer today.
Penalties for a Child Perpetrator
A question that many people have is, Can a child be charged with molestation of another child? In short, the answer is yes.
Children charged with molestation face less severe penalties than adults. However, they may still face jail time and other serious penalties.
A child perpetrator charged with molesting a child under 12 years old faces the possibility of a second degree felony conviction. The punishment for such a conviction might include:
- A maximum of 15 years in prison;
- Fifteen years of sex offender probation; and
- A $10,000 fine.
Absent prior criminal history or grounds for a downward departure sentence, juveniles convicted under this statute must serve at least 51 months in prison.
A child perpetrator charged with molesting a child older than 12 but younger than 16 faces a third degree felony. This type of conviction carries the possibility of:
- A maximum sentence of 5 years in prison;
- Five years of sex offender probation; and
- A $5,000 fine.
Juveniles convicted under this statute are required to serve 36 months in prison, absent prior criminal history, unless there are grounds for a downward departure sentence.
Florida law also outlines a variety of mitigating circumstances that warrant a downward departure from the lowest permissible sentence. The mitigating circumstances applicable to child molestation cases include situations where:
- The departure results from a legitimate, uncoerced plea bargain;
- The defendant was an accomplice and was a relatively minor participant in the criminal conduct;
- The defendant’s capacity to appreciate the criminal nature of the conduct or to conform his or her conduct to the requirements of law was substantially impaired;
- The defendant suffers from a mental disorder that is unrelated to substance abuse or addiction or for a physical disability and requires specialized treatment;
- The victim was an initiator, willing participant, aggressor, or provoker of the incident;
- The defendant acted under extreme duress or under the domination of another person;
- The offense was an isolated incident for which the defendant has shown remorse; or
- The defendant is to be sentenced as a youthful offender.
If any of these circumstances apply to your case, you may have your punishment reduced.
Other Consequences of a Child Molestation Conviction
Some sex crime convictions carry the requirement of registering as a sex offender. Sex offender registration laws provide guidelines for when and how registration is required and the limitations imposed by the registration.
An experienced child molestation defense lawyer can help you understand these consequences and what you need to do to comply with state requirements and guidelines.
Contact OrlandoDefense.com Today
A conviction for child molestation in Florida can turn your world upside down. But don’t give up hope—know that you have a right to a legal defense.
At OrlandoDefense.com, we know just how stressful and emotional this can be. That’s why we have devoted our entire practice to representing criminal defendants in the most difficult times of their lives. We have more than 40 years of combined experience defending clients in need, so you can feel confident and comfortable with our legal counsel and representation. If you are looking for a Florida child molestation lawyer to zealously defend you and your rights, contact OrlandoDefense.com today.