Lewd & Lascivious Battery/Molestation
FLORIDA STATE LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS BATTERY LAW
The legal connotation of Lewd or Lascivious Battery is a crime under Florida State Law. The crime is delineated in Florida Statute 800.04(4). According to the statute, the following scenarios justify criminal prosecution of an offender for Lewd or Lascivious Battery:
- When a person engages in sexual activity or any conduct of a sexual nature with a child within the age bracket of 12 and 16
- When a person coerces, whether subtly or forcefully, or cajoles a child within the age bracket of 12 and 16 to perform any activity that qualifies to be described as any of the following:
- Sexual Bestiality
- Sadomasochistic Abuse
- Any act of whatever form that involves activities of a sexual nature
CRIMINAL NATURE OF LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS BATTERY IN FLORIDA STATE LAW
Under the Florida State Law, lewd or lascivious battery is designated as a Strict Liability Crime. The reason for this stringent designation is to dispel two commonly raised defenses, namely:
- That the real age of the victim was unknown as at the time of committing the crime; therefore cloaking any activity of sexual nature undertaken with the child as unintentional
- That sexual act done with or by the victim was consented to by the victim; therefore liberating the offender of the crime of any wrongdoing and adjudging the victim to take responsibility to decline sexual advance or participation in an act involving sexual activity
PENALTIES FOR LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS BATTERY IN FLORIDA STATE LAW
The classification and severity ranking of Lewd and Lascivious Battery under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code is stipulation below:
- Classification: Second Degree Felony
- Severity Ranking: Level 8
Conviction for the crime will lead to the following penalty(-ies):
- Minimum prison sentence: 34½ months (2 years and 10½ months)
- Any combination of the following:
- Maximum prison sentence of 15 years
- Maximum sex offender probation of 15 years
- Maximum fine of $10,000
Under Florida State Law, the court can deviate from the minimum prison sentence stipulated under Florida’s sentencing guidelines, if the defense can attest that crime fits any of a small number of specific scenarios. These scenarios include that:
- The victim was an aggressor, a willing participant, a provoker, or an initiator of the incident
- The sentence as a youthful offender on the defendant is to be before the defendant’s 21st birthday
- The defendant has been diagnosed for a mental disorder (must be unrelated to addiction or substance abuse); is acquiesced to treatment and will receive the said specialized treatment for the disorder
CIVIL CONSEQUENCES OF LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS BATTERY CONVICTION
Every person convicted of Lewd and Lascivious Battery in the state of Florida would in addition to being placed on sex offender probation, would be designated as a sexual offender. Accordingly, such person would be required to comply with sexual offender registration laws within Florida and elsewhere in the United States for the rest of their lives.
ROMEO AND JULIET EXCEPTION
The sexual offender designation for every convicted person of this crime can only be waived if the person is adjudged to be covered by the Florida ‘Romeo and Juliet’ law. Under this law, the facts of the crime rather than the convicted person must meet very special eligibility requirements for possible exclusion from the sex offender registry. If a convicted individual believes he or she meets these requirements, he or she must petition the court to be excluded.
DEFENSES TO LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS BATTERY IN FLORIDA STATE LAW
In general, the defense team in any criminal case may raise a slew of pretrial and trial defense points. The most effective defense in a case of Lewd or Lascivious Battery is ‘evidence of false allegations.’
This defense point stems from proving any of the following scenarios:
- That the accuser has mental illness
- That the victim had been influenced by mentally ill parents
- That there may traits of jealousy necessitating the charge of the crime
- That the victim had been manipulated by an angry parent
Early on, it was described that under the Florida State Law, Lewd or Lascivious Battery has been designated as a strict liability crime to statutorily prohibit the defense team raising any of a number of defenses during trial. These prohibit defenses include:
- Proximity of age
- Ignorance of the child’s age
PROXIMITY IN AGE
By itself, Proximity in age refers to the scenario where both participants (accuser and defendant) are within the same age bracket (close in age). For example, sexual activity between an individual aged 13 and another aged 15.
Although, the law does not provide a defense for any of the participants under the law, it is still prohibited to be used as a defense point at trial. Rather, proximity in age falls under and can be used as a mitigating circumstance (discussed above) to seek a downward review of minimum sentencing stipulated in the Florida sentencing guidelines.
That a victim consents to participation in the alleged act of a sexual nature is not a valid defense to be made at trial.
IGNORANCE OF THE CHILD’S AGE
This defense seeks to argue that Lewd or Lascivious Battery is justified if:
- The victim made a false acknowledgment of (lied about) his or her age
- As at the time of participating in the act, the accused had a bona fide belief that the victim was old enough to consent to the act than now qualifies to be tagged as Lewd or Lascivious Battery
Although, this defense will not be accepted at trial, a part of this defense may be used if the defense team makes an argument for false allegation of the crime. The part that can be used refers to eliciting a testimony form the defendant that the accuser or victim lied about his or her age. This will stand as such testimony makes a dent on the credibility of the accuser.
Broward Criminal Lawyer
South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Kenneth Padowitz Has Provided Aggressive Defense for Clients Charged with Lewd & Lascivious Conduct
Broward criminal lawyer, Kenneth Padowitz, is an experienced criminal defense attorney who harnesses the unique experience he gained as a former sex crimes prosecutor to effectively defend clients facing sex crimes charges in South Florida. If you have been charged or believe you may be charged with a crime in the near future, contact Broward criminal lawyer, Kenneth Padowitz today.