When you have been arrested for suspicion of having sex with a minor, your entire future could be in jeopardy. Few charges carry penalties as harsh as those involving sex with a minor and require the help of an experienced Tampa sex with a minor lawyer.
When Can You Be Charged With Sex With a Minor in Tampa?
Under Florida Statute § 794.05, it is illegal for adults to engage in unlawful sexual activity with minor children. You could face several types of charges related to these accusations, including:
- Statutory rape
- Unlawful sexual activity with a minor
- Child molestation
- Lewd or lascivious acts
- Sexual battery
- Child pornography
- Promoting a minor to engage in a sexual performance
- Indecent liberties with a child
- Contributing to the delinquency of a minor
Under Florida law, the age of consent is 18-years-old. Anyone under the age of eighteen cannot give their consent to engage in sexual activity of any kind.
Make sure you get an aggressive sex crimes lawyer in Tampa to advocate for your freedoms so that you can get back to your life.
Tampa Sex With a Minor Convictions Produce Harsh Penalties
The consequences of a conviction for sex with a minor vary depending on the facts of your case.
Suppose you were charged with unlawful activity with a minor, which is a second-degree felony. In that case, you could spend up to 15 years in prison and pay fines up to $10,000.
However, suppose you are accused of lewd and lascivious battery, which involves sexual activity with penetration between an adult and a minor who is 13, 14, or 15-years-old. This is also a second-degree felony.
Crimes increase for habitual offenders. Under Fla. Stat. Ann. §794.011, you could also face the discretionary or mandatory imposition of chemical castration.
Collateral Consequences of a Tampa Sex Crime Conviction
In addition to criminal penalties, there are multiple collateral consequences of a conviction. These include:
- Child custody issues
- Immigration or citizenship problems
- Loss of firearm rights
- Loss of eligibility for federal student aid
- Trouble finding safe, affordable housing
- Difficulty meeting housing requirements
- Difficulty finding gainful employment
- Parole or probation requirements
Probably the worst collateral penalty you will face is registration as a sex offender. Once you are released from prison, you may be required to register as a sex offender.
Sex offenders in Florida are required to register as sex offenders with the local police regularly throughout the year and must do so for the rest of their lives under the Florida Sexual Predators Act.
How Do Sting Operations Work in Tampa?
One way Tampa law enforcement makes arrests for sex with a minor charges is through sting operations. These often occur when police will go online and enter chat rooms or other social forums and pose as minors. They will communicate with people in the hopes of arresting would-be child predators.
Sting operations often result in unlawful arrests and criminal charges against innocent people who had no intention of committing a crime against a child.
Many people are quick to argue that sting operations are tantamount to entrapment. But sting operations are legal ways law enforcement can get people to violate Florida sex crime laws.
How to Handle False Sex Crime Allegations in Tampa
False allegations of sex crimes involving minors happen far more frequently than you might think. Common reasons for false sex crime accusations include:
- To gain the upper hand in a custody battle
- Mistaken identity
- To get attention
- To generate sympathy
- Mental instability
Do not attempt to contact the alleged victim or their family during this time, even if you believe that you could clear up the situation by doing so. Make sure to gather as much evidence as possible to support your case.
Defending Yourself Against Tampa Sex With a Minor Charges
If you hope to avoid the harsh consequences of a guilty verdict, you need to prepare a powerful defense strategy. The state’s prosecutor will be tasked with proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. Your sex with a minor lawyer in Tampa will be responsible for introducing that reasonable doubt.
Mistake in Age is Not a Valid Defense
Several defenses are used to defend against these charges. Many people assume that arguing a mistake in age will help them obtain an acquittal. But under Florida Statute section 794.021, not knowing the victim’s age or believing that the victim was older than they may have passed themselves off to be is not a valid defense.
So what defenses are valid for sex with a minor in Tampa? Let’s review.
Arguing that the sexual encounter in question was consensual may be a valid defense if you were under the age of twenty-four and the victim was aged sixteen or older. This is known as Florida’s Romeo and Juliet law and may allow the minor to give their legal consent for sexual activity in limited circumstances.
When false allegations have been made against you, your attorney must prove these allegations are unfounded in some way. Provide your attorney with any communications exchanges, witness statements, and contact information to support your version of events.
For a mental incapacity defense to be successful, your criminal defense lawyer must show that while you may have committed the crime in question, you were not mentally capable of understanding what you were doing or the consequences of your actions at the time of the alleged sex crime.
Medical documentation, family history, forensic evidence, and expert testimony could all go a long way in winning your sex crime case with a mental incapacity defense strategy.
Contact a Sex with Minor Defense Attorney in Tampa for Help
Sex with a minor charges, and the related sex crime charges you may be facing, could haunt you for the rest of your life if you are found guilty. It has never been more important for you to obtain an acquittal.
Get help presenting a powerful defense strategy when you meet with aggressive Tampa sex with a minor defense lawyer, Brett Metcalf, Criminal Defense Attorney, P.A. Schedule your confidential consultation when you complete our secured contact form or call our office at 813-258-4800.