Anyone that has watched any sort of media in the Tampa Bay area for the last 10 years has known that the Tampa Bay area has become well-known for teachers having inappropriate sexual relationships with their students. Our Tampa Sex Crimes Attorneys have worked a tremendous amount of different sex crimes throughout the Tampa Bay Area. During the legislative session of 2013-2014, the Florida Legislature passed the above-referenced act in response to this unnerving, concerning trend in the Area. The Statute, Florida Statute Section 775.0862, essentially enhances the penalties for violation of certain enumerated acts under this Statute. In short, if an enumerated offense was a third-degree felony, if the facts and circumstances of the charge satisfy this Act, it will be bumped up to a second-degree felony and so on. It’s essentially just reclassifying offenses up one level of severity, when committed by an “authority figure”. The Statute relates to sexual offenses committed by an “authority figure” defined as “18 years of age or older person who are employed by, volunteering at, or under contract with the school” against students of that school.
Again, this act hasn’t gone through the rigors of litigation through District Courts of Appeal and the Florida Supreme Court, but we do anticipate there are not being many issues with the constitutionality of it. Florida case law is ripe with examples of what are called status crimes. These are crimes where charges are enhanced because of the status of the victim. An example to think of is battery on a law enforcement officer or battery on a pregnant female. But for the status of the victims in those charges, the charges would otherwise be misdemeanors. In light of these status crimes being upheld repeatedly by Florida Courts, we don’t anticipate any constitutional issues with this new “Stop Harassing Underage Teens Act.”
If you have questions concerning sexual crimes or Tampa criminal defense in general, contact the Tampa Sex Crimes Attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation. We’ve handled thousands of criminal cases throughout the Tampa Bay area and we’ll sit down with you and determine an aggressive, effective strategy to contest the criminal charges lodged against you. If you’d like to contact 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 you taking the time to check out our Tampa Sex Crimes Attorneys’ blog and look forward to work with you in the future.