A Lewd and Lascivious Conviction can Carry Severe Penalties
The consequences of a sex crime conviction can prove serious and life-altering. In addition to the penalties imposed by the court, the convicted party must also endure significant public scrutiny, which often begins before the court case even commences. A Florida couple received a first-hand lesson in this reality, as they faced charges for having sex on a public beach. According to an MSN report, the 40-year-old male and 20-year-old female were each accused of committing sexual acts in broad daylight. Other beachgoers, including at least one child, allegedly witnessed the behavior.
Earlier this month, a jury reportedly found both individuals guilty of lewd and lascivious exhibition, after only 15 minutes of deliberation. Now, their faces are plastered across the national news as legal professionals debate whether the possible punishment fits the crime. As stated in the article, the convictions carry a possible punishment of 15 years in prison and the state attorney reportedly plans to request jail time. Both parties will also have the classification of sex offender for the remainder of their lives, which requires that they register in any locality where they live.
Ed Brodsky is the state attorney for the 16th district. He is quoted in the article as stating, “We’re dealing with basically tourists, that came from Brandon and Riverview and West Virginia, and they’re here on the beaches of Manatee County, our public beaches… so you want to make sure that this isn’t something that just goes by the wayside. And that it is well-known to the community, what will be tolerated and what won’t be.”
The Law in Florida
Under the Florida criminal statute, a person commits lewd and lascivious exhibition when he or she intentionally commits any of the following acts in the presence of a child under the age of 16 years old:
- Exposes their genitals;
- Commits a sexual act; or
- Simulates sexual activity.
It is classified as a strict liability crime, which places the responsibility for the act squarely with the defendant, regardless of knowledge about the child’s age or ability to consent. The penalties for lewd and lascivious exhibition differ depending on the age of the perpetrator.
For those under the age of 18-years-old, potential penalties include:
- Up to 5 years imprisonment;
- Up to 5 years of probation as a sex offender; and
- A maximum of $5000 in fines.
For those 18-years-old and older, potential penalties include:
- Up to 15 years imprisonment;
- Up to 15 years of probation as a sex offender; and
- A maximum of $10,000 in fines.
The severity of these punishments exemplifies the seriousness of a lewd and lascivious exhibition charge. As a defendant, you need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to put forth a viable defense that will clear your name in the courtroom, as well as the court of public opinion. With the help of an attorney, you may present evidence of false allegations or negate your intention to act in a lewd manner.
If you or a loved one is facing a sex crime charge within the state of Florida, we are prepared to help. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation.