Of all the Florida criminal charges, Tampa Sex Crimes Attorneys will advise folks that few Florida statutes are so vague and do such a poor job of describing the prohibited act as lewd or lascivious. Unfortunately, many times individuals charged with lewd or lascivious are left with more questions than answers about the specific charges because it regulates a wide variety of actions. This charge is covered by Florida Statute Section 800.04. This article on our Tampa Sex Crimes Attorney blog will work to provide more basic information concerning the charge.
First, it basically covers four (4) different potential acts under one (1) Statute. Under subsection four (4) of the Statute, it criminalizes lewd or lascivious battery, which it defines as “A person who: (a) Engages in sexual activity with a person 12 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age; or (b) Encourages, forces, or entices any person less than 16 years of age to engage in sadomasochistic abuse, sexual bestiality, prostitution, or any other act involving sexual activity.” Subsection (5) of the Statute criminalizes “Lewd or Lascivious Molestation” defined as “[A] person who intentionally touches in a lewd or lascivious manner the breasts, genitals, genital area, or buttocks, or the clothing covering them, of a person less than 16 years of age, or forces or entices a person under 16 years of age to so touch the perpetrator, commits lewd or lascivious molestation.” Thirdly, the Statute criminalizes “Lewd or Lascivious Conduct” defined as “[a] person who: 1. Intentionally touches a person under 16 years of age in a lewd or lascivious manner; or 2. Solicits a person under 16 years of age to commit a lewd or lascivious act commits lewd or lascivious conduct.” Lastly, the Statute criminalizes “Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition” as “A person who: 1. Intentionally masturbates; 2. Intentionally exposes the genitals in a lewd or lascivious manner; or 3. Intentionally commits any other sexual act that does not involve actual physical or sexual contact with the victim, including, but not limited to, sadomasochistic abuse, sexual bestiality, or the simulation of any act involving sexual activity in the presence of a victim who is less than 16 years of age, commits lewd or lascivious exhibition.” Ultimately, as you can tell, the Statute, unlike many others, criminalizes a whole host of actions, while other criminal statutes simply criminalize one or two actions and activities.
Secondly, this Statute is somewhat unique as it provides a whole variety of criminal sanctions depending on the unique circumstances of the act. The criminal sanctions can range from a third degree felony, with a maximum of five years in a Florida State Prison, all the way to a first degree felony, with a maximum of twenty-five years in a Florida State Prison. Again, this makes it very important for individuals charged under this Statute to quickly consult a Tampa sex crimes attorney early in the process of the criminal investigation to assist them in determining their maximum criminal exposure.
Thirdly, another very unique of the Statute is that it specifically prohibits several defenses; many individuals believe they can rely on. For example, a classic defense in cases involving the age of the victim, most folks believe they can simple assert they didn’t know the victim’s age. Subsection (3) of the Statute specifically prevents criminal defendants from claiming either ignorance, misrepresentation or a “bona fide belief of the victim’s age” as a defense to the charges. This is very unique as it limits the available defenses to Tampa sex crimes attorneys. Unfortunately, many people charged under this Statute truly had doubts concerning the age, but the Statute makes those beliefs and thoughts a non-issue. Additionally, it prevents criminal defendants from using the victim’s consent as a defense to the charges. Few statutes specifically prevent criminal defense attorneys from raising specific defenses in support of their clients. The acts prohibited by the Statute are considered strict liability offenses, so intent is not an issue. The excluded defense specifically relate to intent.
If you or someone you know has questions about lewd or lascivious or other sex crimes, contact the Tampa sex crime attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation. We have handled a wide variety of these cases and can assist you in determining your strongest defense in light of the unique facts of your case. If you wish to speak with one of our Tampa sex crimes attorneys immediately, please use the “contact us now” tab in the upper right hand corner of our website. We appreciate your time in checking out our blog and look forward to hearing from you.