Criminal Defense Law Firm For Sexual Molestation Arrest in Fort Walton Beach, Destin Or Anywhere In Okaloosa County
The crime of Lewd or Lascivious Molestation, more commonly referred to as sexual molestation, is defined under Florida Statute 800.04(5) and occurs two different ways:
- When a person intentionally touches (fondle) the sexual organs or genitals (breasts, penis, vagina, buttocks) of a child less than 16 years old, in a lewd or lascivious (sexual) manner.
- When a person encourages, entices, or forces a child under 16 to touch another child or adult in a lewd or lascivious (sexual) manner.
What Is The Definition Of Lewd & Lascivious?
Although redundant, in Florida, they are the terms attached to most sex crimes against or involving children. Synonyms include: sexual, sensual, erotic, coarse, unchaste, lustful, evil, vulgar, rude, bawdy, elicit, debauched, immoral, depraved, or corrupt.
What Are The Penalties For Lewd or Lascivious Molestation?
The potential penalty for sexual molestation depends largely on the age of both the defendant and child victim. If the offender was over the age of 18—or if the child involved was under the age of 12 at the time of the alleged offense. As you can see, there are multiple combinations:
- Lewd or Lascivious Molestation by person 18 or older on a child under 12: This charge is categorized as a life felony and therefore punishable by life imprisonment. A person convicted of this charge faces a sentence of 25 years to life, with a sex offender designation and probation for the rest of that person’s life. Also, the Judge will likely impose court costs, fines, GPS monitoring.
- Lewd or Lascivious Molestation by person 18 or older on a child between the ages of 12 and 16: This crime is classified as a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison or combination of incarceration and probation. A conviction here also entails a sex offender designation and GPS monitoring, fines and court costs. Please note: Since the charge also equates to minimum score sheet guideline sentence according to the Florida Criminal Punishment Code, a defendant who is convicted of Lewd and Lascivious Molestation under this category will be facing a minimum sentence of at least 51 months in prison.
- Lewd or Lascivious Molestation — Offender under 18 on a child under 12: This charge is technically considered a “child on child” crime, however, the offending child can be charged as an adult and still faces 15 years in prison on a second degree felony with a minimum score sheet guideline sentence of 51 months under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code. Also, if the offender is charged as an adult, then they will also face an adult sex offender designation.
- Lewd or Lascivious Molestation — Offender under 18 on a child between ages 12-16: This charge is classified as a third degree felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison or a combination of jail and probation.
MANY of these cases involving offenders under the age of 18 may start off in Okaloosa County Juvenile Court, but get moved up to Adult Felony Court for various reasons. For a juvenile defendant in this scenario, a criminal defense attorney can greatly assist in keeping the case stationed in juvenile court.
Once retained, it is important that contact be made immediately with the Assistant State Attorney in Okaloosa County and the DJJ (Department of Juvenile Justice). Mitigation must be supplied at the case outset because the prosecutor’s charging decisions occur so early in the process.
This is a very large reason why it is important not to go with the “wait and see approach” when it comes to sex cases, especially sex cases involving a juvenile defendant.
What Are The Possible Defenses to a Sexual Molestation Allegation?
Although ignorance of the child’s actual age is never a defense for a sex crime involving a child, for the experienced criminal defense attorney, a multitude of both factual and legal defenses may be present in a sex crime case.
Some of these defenses are strategic in nature, and play out as the case unfolds and some of them are based on technical issues like child victim/witness competency and child hearsay evidentiary challenges.
Obviously though, perhaps the most common way to defend against a sex crime allegation is that it did not happen and the allegation is simply FALSE… It could just be a made-up lie, contrived because of an outside motivation:
- Does the accusation stem from a heated child custody battle? Could the allegation come from the manipulation of a parent or relative?
- Could the child be desperately seeking attention or maybe jealous of another sibling?
- Does the child suffer from depression, anxiety, or have an underlying mental health condition?
If you or a family member is under investigation, or has been arrested for Lewd or Lascivious Molestation in in Fort Walton Beach, Destin or elsewhere in Okaloosa County, give me a call for a free consultation at (850) 362-6655.