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How Young is Too Young? Age of Consent Laws in Florida

In Florida, the age of legal consent is 18. This means that once an individual turns 18 years old, he or she may have a sexual relationship with any other adult except for in certain situations where one adult has authority over the other, such as an inmate and a guard in a prison. But this does not tell the whole story of who may have sex with whom under Florida law.

Certain protections exist to prevent individuals who engage in consensual sexual relationships with peers close to their age from being convicted of sex crimes. A sex crime conviction carries steep penalties, such as fines, jail time, and the requirement that the defendant register with the Florida Sex Offender Registry. In Florida, it is legal for an individual between the ages of 16 and 23 to have a sexual relationship with an individual aged 16 or 17. It is also possible for an individual who was 18 years old or younger when he or she engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with another individual aged 14 to 18 to petition for removal from the state’s sex offender registry under Florida’s “Romeo and Juliet” law.

Lewd and Lascivious Battery

Lewd and lascivious battery is often known as statutory rape. It refers to any instance of an adult attempting to engage in sexual intercourse with a child aged 12 to 16, regardless of the adult’s age. This can be through persuasion, coercion, or manipulation, and the sexual act does not actually have to occur for the adult to be charged with lewd and lascivious battery. It is a second degree felony in Florida, punishable by 7.5 to 15 years in prison for first time offenders.

In some cases, the defendant’s age can play a role in his or her sentencing. Generally, if the defendant is under the age of 21 when he or she is sentenced, his or her age may be considered. However, there is no guarantee that one’s age will be considered in his or her sentencing for lewd and lascivious battery and often, other factors take precedence in the sentencing over the defendant’s age. Other factors that may be considered are the defendant’s mental health and whether the victim willingly provoked the sexual engagement with the defendant but, like the defendant’s age, these are not guaranteed to impact his or her sentencing and are not valid defenses against a charge.

Work with an Experienced Miami Sex Crimes Attorney

Age of consent in a sexual relationship can be a tricky topic. If you have been accused of any type of sexual misconduct involving an individual below the age of 18, work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend your case. Our team at Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC can help you create a strong defense for your case to help you avoid the life-changing penalties that can accompany a sex crime conviction. Do not wait to get started – contact our team to schedule your initial legal consultation with us today.

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