There really is no misunderstanding when it comes to the statutory rape law in the State of Florida.
It is well defined and crystal clear – It’s illegal for any adult over the age of 18 to have sex with any minor who is younger than 18 years old. Plain and simple, the minor’s consent is not relevant at all, and that’s what makes this so difficult for many of these cases.
There have been instances where many high school seniors have faced second-degree felonies for sexual contact with another student under the age of eighteen. These are often young people in a relationship who willingly participate in the sexual relationship. Still, unfortunately, neither of them fully grasped the consequences of their actions.
A lot of times, the defendants are stunned and shocked when they are charged with unlawful sexual contact with a minor or, as it’s commonly called, statutory rape. Many of the accused are surprised because they both mutually consented or they believed that their partner was older than they actually were. However, the law is crystal clear on precisely what defines statutory rape in the State of Florida and who is allowed to consent to have sexual activity.
There are some exceptions, very limited, but they do exist for when a minor has sex with another adult who is close in age to them. This has been coined the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ law after the young Shakespearean lovers. This was put into force to protect some teens who have engaged in consensual sexual activity with another teen who is very close in age to that threshold of the law.
However, this won’t protect all teens or young adults from legal action due to this provision only being applicable in some cases with particular circumstances. So if you are left trying to make sense of your statutory rape charge in the State of Florida, it would be in your best interest to hire a skilled defense lawyer.
There are lifelong consequences for a statutory rape conviction, and you must receive the best legal counsel possible so that you can put together the best defense for your case.
The following are some of the things that can have a lifelong impact on your freedom and future.
These include but are not limited to:
- – Imprisonment
- – Sex Offender Registration
- – House Arrest
- – Fines
- – Probation
- – Community Service
- – Mandatory Counseling
Having a very knowledgeable and experienced legal advisor in your corner is the smartest decision you could ever make. It could be the difference between a lighter or heavier sentence. It can also have a massive impact on your future and your records.
What’s Considered Statutory Rape in Florida?
Statutory rape is defined as any sexual activity taking place between any person the age of 24 years old or older and with any individual who is 16 or 17 years old. In the State of Florida, this is considered to be a second-degree felony.
The sexual activity can fall under many different contexts, including oral sex, anal sex, or vaginal intercourse or penetration. Statutory rape occurs typically when one of the individuals is under the age of consent, and the other person is at or over the age of 24 years old.
Statutory rape can also include any case where both parties were found to be minors and where one of the individuals is considered to have a mental disability, defect, or physical or mental incapacitation that prevents them from being able to consent to the sexual activity.
Nationwide this is commonly known and called “statutory rape,” the State of Florida’s justice system actually uses the terminology of ‘unlawful sexual activity with a minor,’ which then falls under the bigger picture of sexual battery.
Age of Consent in Florida
In the State of Florida, the legal age of consent is 18 years old. This is the age that is legally recognized because it is believed that an individual is then capable of making decisions regarding sexual activity.
However, some individuals are believed to be unable to consent because of an inability to understand what they agree to. This is usually the case when somebody is incapacitated or because they might be physically helpless and can’t protect themselves.
In the first scenario, any individual may be considered ‘mentally defective’ if they have any type of mental disorder or defect that would prevent them from lawfully consent.
Any individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol may also be considered mentally incapacitated and unable to consent to sexual activity consciously. At the same time, a victim who is unconscious or unable to communicate may be regarded as physically helpless and unable to consent to sexual activity.
Reporting Statutory Rape in the State of Florida
In the State of Florida, there are three different types of parties that can press charges against somebody else if they believe that somebody has been the victim of statutory rape. Obviously, the most common are the parents of a minor, and they can bring civil or criminal charges against any alleged perpetrator.
In fact, they do not even need their child’s consent or cooperation to do so. Unfortunately, this is the case you see with many of the ‘Romeo & Juliet’ cases. In addition, the State of Florida can also file any and all charges without the consent or cooperation of the minor victim.
However, when the minor victim becomes of age (18), they can then file a civil suit against the accused of any physical or emotional distress they may have endured. The law states that he or she can pursue this up until their 25th birthday.
Charged With Statutory Rape With Consentual Partner
Unfortunately, it does not matter if your partner gave consent to the sexual act if she or he is under the legally recognized age of consent in the State of Florida, which is currently 18 years old. Anybody under the age of 18 years old is not believed capable of giving consent to sexual activity and that their stated consent was not legally valid, and therefore you will be charged with statutory rape.
In addition to that, any individuals who do not meet the standard of consent because of any mental disability, defect, or incapacitation are not considered legally able to consent to sexual activity. Regardless if both parties are 17 years old and one of them is considered to be unable to consent, then the other party can be charged with statutory rape according to the State of Florida laws.
What if the ‘Victim’ Lied About Their Age?
This is more common than anybody wants to admit, but unfortunately, even if the younger party misled or lied to their partner about their age, the older individual can still be charged with statutory rape. In the State of Florida, an accused person cannot actually claim ignorance of the alleged victim’s age as their defense against statutory rape.
What is ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Law?
The State of Florida passed the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ law during the 2007 state legislative session to address all the concerns regarding high school students being labeled as sexual predators and or sexual offenders for any participation in consensual sexual relationships.
This law actually allows relief for the accused offender from being placed on the sex offender registration form. The law allows a person to file a petition or motion for removal of the requirement to have to register as a sexual offender or predator who meets specific criteria.
- The alleged victim was at least 14 years old at the time of the alleged offense;
- The offender is no more than four years older than the alleged victim at the time of the offense;
- The victim must have agreed and consented to the sexual conduct.
But even if this is granted, it only addresses the registry requirement and nothing else. It doesn’t make the underlying offense legal. So if the victim was 15 years old or younger, it wouldn’t matter he or she consented because the actual sexual act will still be considered a criminal offense.
What is the Punishment for Statutory Rape in the State of Florida?
There is a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for any first-time offenders for statutory rape in the State of Florida. There can be stiffer penalties for any habitual offenders, and that can include up to 40 years or life in prison.
You should consult with an expert lawyer in the field of criminal law and statutory rape for more information about possible punishments related directly to your circumstances.
Getting Help From a Statutory Rape Lawyer
Understanding that every case is different and that every defendant deserves a thorough defense is critical to getting the best defense attorney that will take into account all the factors of your particular circumstances.
You will want to protect your future by seeking out an experienced lawyer who knows the laws and how to handle a statutory rape case like yours.