Lewd or Lascivious Battery in Florida
Lewd or Lascivious Battery, which is more commonly known as statutory rape, criminalizes consensual sexual intercourse with a child older than 12, but younger than 16.
If accused of Lewd or Lascivious Battery, you want to know the:
- Definition of Lewd or Lascivious Battery
- Penalties for Lewd or Lascivious Battery
- Defenses to Lewd or Lascivious Battery
Definition of Lewd or Lascivious Battery
In Florida, the crime of Lewd or Lascivious Battery  is defined as:
- Sexual activity with a child older than 12, but younger than 16;
- Encouraging, forcing, or enticing a child older than 12, but younger than 16 to engage in:
- Sadomasochistic Abuse,
- Sexual Bestiality,
- Prostitution, or
- Any other act involving sexual activity.
Penalties for Lewd or Lascivious Battery
Lewd and Lascivious Battery is classified as a Second Degree Felony and is assigned a Level 8 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.
As a result, a first time offender charged with Lewd and Lascivious Battery would be facing:
- A maximum sentence of fifteen (15) years in prison, and
- A minimum sentence of seven and one-half (7½) years in prison.
Under certain circumstances, the court can deviate from the minimum prison sentence required under Florida's sentencing guidelines if it can be shown:
- The child was an initiator, willing participant, aggressor, or provoker of the incident;
- The defendant requires specialized treatment for a mental disorder (unrelated to substance abuse or addiction) and is amenable to treatment; or
- The defendant is to be sentenced as a youthful offender before the defendant's 21st birthday.
Additionally, if a person is convicted of Lewd or Lascivious Battery, they would not only be placed on sex offender probation, but also be declared a sexual offender.
As a result, they would be required to comply with sexual offender registration laws throughout Florida and the United States for the remainder of their lives.
Romeo and Juliet Exception
In 2007, Florida enacted what is commonly referred to as the "Romeo and Juliet" law.
This law allows certain individuals to petition the court to be excluded from the sex offender registry. However, you can only petition for exclusion if the facts of your crime meet very specific eligibility requirements.
Defenses to Lewd or Lascivious Battery
Typical reasons for false allegations include:
- Manipulation of children by an angry parent,
- Mental illness of the accuser, or
- Mentally ill parents influencing a child.
As a result, it is critically important to investigate the accuser and expose any motive that may exist for making a false accusation of Lewd or Lascivious Battery.
Prohibited Defenses to Lewd or Lascivious Battery
Lewd or Lascivious Battery is a strict liability crime - meaning the intent to commit the crime is irrelevant to a determination of guilt.
The reason for holding people strictly liable for their acts is to counteract the common arguments that:
- The child's real age was unknown, thus they did not intentionally have sex with a child - a defense that allowed people to engage in willful blindness; or
- That the child consented to the sexual act - thus putting the responsibility to decline the sexual advance on the young child.
As a result, the Florida legislature enacted statutes prohibiting such defenses - thus the sexual act with a child was all that had to be proven.
As a result, the following defenses are statutorily prohibited from being raised at trial:
Instead, such evidence can only be presented as mitigating circumstance in sentencing.
Prohibited Defense: Consent
Consent by the child to the sexual act is a statutorily prohibited defense - meaning it cannot even be argued at trial.
Prohibited Defense: Ignorance of Age
Ignorance of the child's age is also a statutorily prohibited defense - meaning it cannot be presented through the defendant at trial.
This means a defendant could not testify that:
- The child lied about his or her age
- There was a bona fide belief the child was old enough to consent.
With that said, if it is being argued that the sexual allegation is false; a defendant could elicit testimony that the accuser lied about his or her age - as it goes to the accuser's credibility.
Prohibited Defense: Proximity in Age
A reoccurring problem in Lewd and Lascivious Battery cases is when the accused is also under the age of 16; as the law does not provide for any defense when the participants are close in age.
Example: If a 12 year-old were to have sex with a 14 year-old, either child or both could be prosecuted for the offense.
Instead, proximity in age can only be used as a mitigating circumstance to seek a downward departure from Florida's sentencing guidelines.
Contact Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested or charged with Lewd and Lascivious Battery in Central Florida or the greater Orlando area, please contact Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby today.
The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.