Sex Crime Defense Attorney in Naples
Florida federal lawyers defending Collier County
Sex crimes include many types of offenses. Most cases are prosecuted under Florida law. However, some of them fall under the purview of federal law. Federal criminal statutes may be activated when offenses involve a death, sex offender registry violations, human trafficking or aggravated sexual abuse. Sentencing guidelines for federal convictions tend to be harsh. Individuals facing allegations about sex offenses, especially from federal prosecutors, can look to the compassionate attorneys at Joffe Law, P.A. for guidance. A skilled Naples sex crime attorney with experience representing federal criminal defendants can prepare a defense strategy when the stakes are high.
Types of sex crimes
Both state and federal laws establish many forms of sex crimes and assign penalties according to their severity. Many offenses are categorized according to the involvement of adults or minors. Sex crimes most commonly take the form of:
- child pornography: Production, distribution, advertisement or possession of images portraying sex acts with people under 18
- child molestation: Sexual acts committed upon minors
- date rape: Form of sexual battery occurring between romantically connected adults when consent is not given
- human trafficking: Holding people for the purpose of forcing them to perform labor, including sex work
- lewd and lascivious: Term for lustful and sensual touching or intercourse with minors
- rape: Common term for many forms of sexual battery
- sexual assault: Forced sexual contact
- sexting: Exchange of nude or sexually explicit pictures by phone
- statutory rape: An adult over age 24 having sex with someone under age 16
- special issues with date rape
Because date rape cases involve two people already engaged in some type of relationship, they can be complicated to investigate and defend. Witnesses are often lacking, and the people who know the complainant and suspect may regard them as being on good terms. Physical evidence, if any exists, will not necessarily indicate a crime. This leaves the credibility of the two parties as the basis for drawing conclusions about accusations. A criminal defense attorney may try to prevent the case from escalating to criminal charges. If charges are filed, then an attorney will work to cast doubt on the prosecution’s interpretation of events.
Special issues with sexting
Although adults engage in sexting, the behavior is prevalent among teens. Young people often have no idea that they could be engaging in conduct that might appear to be child pornography. Senders and recipients of nude or sexually explicit text message images may both be charged with a sex crime. Being under the age of 18 does not protect them from criminal charges. Parents confronted with this situation should seek advice from a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as possible.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
Complexities of sex crimes
Criminal codes provide precise definitions for each sex crime. For example, the category of lewd and lascivious charges contains three levels of offenses:
- lewd and lascivious conduct
- lewd and lascivious molestation
- lewd and lascivious battery
Conduct charges arise from the sensual touching of a minor under age 16 or soliciting someone that age for touching. Molestation occurs when someone touches the buttocks, breasts or genitals of a young person but does not have intercourse. Battery represents the strongest charge because it is defined by the act of sexual intercourse with a minor. Ignorance of a sex partner’s age does not protect someone from conviction.
Sexual battery is the legal term for rape under Florida law. The crime describes a person having oral or penetrative vaginal or anal sex with a person who does not consent. To prove someone guilty, a prosecutor must provide evidence that a person forcefully performed the sex act. There does not need to be evidence that a victim resisted the attack, and a person under age 12 is legally viewed as unable to provide consent. Lack of consent is also implied for disabled victims under age 18.
Sexual assaults that allegedly took place on federal government property, in a U.S. territory, in a federally controlled maritime jurisdiction or that involved crossing state or international borders will invite federal prosecution. The involvement of federal investigators always increases the severity of the situation for people under suspicion.
Sex crime penalties
State criminal law authorizes prison sentences up to 15 years for convictions of second-degree felony sexual battery. Fines up to $10,000 are also possible.
Consequences typically continue after release from prison. They could include:
- required participation in sex offender treatment program
- providing a DNA sample
- imposition of curfew
- barred from using internet
- barred from being near children
Accusations of sexual battery against a minor under 12 carry the strongest penalty if conviction occurs. Anyone facing this accusation is vulnerable to a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole because the offense is a capital felony. If minors commit this crime, they face a mandatory minimum sentence of 9 years plus 2 or more years of sex offender probation.
Speak with a sex crime attorney right away
Any indication that you or a family member is under investigation for a sex crime must be taken seriously. These are not the type of allegations that can be ignored. A criminal defense lawyer can evaluate the situation and plan a response when investigators contact an individual. Many defense strategies are available to protect the rights of the accused, and an attorney may be able to undermine a prosecutor’s case by challenging weak evidence. The team at Joffe Law, P.A. has protected the reputation and liberty of many previous clients.