An accusation of a sex offense involving sexual battery or another sexual act can be devastating and unfortunately, many cases are not cut and dry. Some involve a strong “he said, she said” type of element, while in others, the involved parties have two very different perceptions of the events that occurred. A portion of these cases even involve consenting individuals, which can make this type of case especially upsetting for the defendant who may not have even realized that they were doing something unlawful.
Florida sex crime laws are quite stringent, and a conviction can result in a lifelong requirement that you register on the state’s sex offender list. This type of listing can be devastating for a victim, causing them to suffer challenges when seeking a job or attempting to rent property. Some who are charged with sex offenses are even subject to harassment. And that says nothing of the shame and embarrassment an individual may experience.
At the Law Offices of Hutchinson & Huffman, we have an elite team of criminal defense lawyers available to offer representation, providing a strategic, aggressive defense for your sex crime case in Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach County, Martin County or in one of the surrounding communities.
Established by a pair of seasoned defense attorneys with over a half century of combined legal experience, our law firm is committed to you, the client. Our goal is to leverage our experience, knowledge and our refined defense strategies to bring about the best possible outcome for your case or trial.
A sex crime conviction can haunt you for a lifetime. Don’t trust your case to just anyone. Contact a law practice with some of the most experienced sex crime defense lawyers in the region. Contact the Law Offices of Hutchinson & Huffman to arrange a fully confidential case consultation by calling (561) 838-9793.
Common Questions and Concerns Arising from a Florida Sex Crimes Arrest
A sex crimes arrest can be downright terrifying due to the lifelong impact of a conviction. Unlike many other crimes, there’s the added penalty of being required to register as a sex offender, which can pose many challenges that can impact you for a lifetime. Sex offenses are typically second only to violent crimes when it comes to the seriousness of the penalties and stigma that you may face, even if you’re not convicted.
Our legal team has compiled an overview of a few of the most common questions that we address with clients who have been accused of a sex offense in Florida.
What’s Considered a Sex Offense?
In Florida, sex crimes fall into three basic categories: lewd or lascivious acts, sexual battery and rape, along with unlawful sex with minors.
Lewd and lascivious acts involve crimes that are committed against a victim who is under the age of 16. This category can include charges such as lewd and lascivious battery, lewd and lascivious molestation, lewd and lascivious conduct and lewd and lascivious exhibition. This can be a challenging type of case to defend, because ignorance of the victim’s age and the young age of the suspect (if applicable) typically cannot be used as a defense.
Sexual battery is the formal term for rape in Florida, which is regarded as a non-consensual sexual act that entails coercion, force or incapacitation. This type of case is also challenging since there are often no witnesses; only the involved parties.
Unlawful sexual activity with a minor is perhaps better known as statutory rape. This involves a person age 24 or older engaging in a sexual act with a minor age 16 or 17. An act involving someone under the age of 16 would call into the lewd and lascivious category.
Will I Have to Register as a Sex Offender?
Not necessarily. Inclusion on the sex offender registry is only required for a conviction or in the case of an individual who pleads guilty. A person who is cleared of the crime will not be required to join the Florida sex offender registry.
Although challenging, your defense lawyer may also be successful in working with the prosecutor to downgrade or alter the charge to an offense that would not require inclusion in the sex offender registry.
Additionally, some individuals may be exempted via what’s known as Florida’s “Romeo and Juliet” law.
What is Florida’s Romeo and Juliet Law?
In 2007, Florida enacted a so-called “Romeo and Juliet” law that serves to grant an exception to individuals who are convicted of a sex offense as the result of consensual sexual conduct with a minor. Certain individuals who are covered by this law are exempted from the requirement of having to register as a sex offender for life.
The requirements are quite stringent, applying only to convictions for sexual battery or a lewd or lascivious offense. The victim must be between the age of 14 and 17 and there must be no more than a four-year age differential (no more than 1,460 days) between the victim and the alleged perpetrator. The individual must also have no prior convictions of this nature in order to qualify for exemption under this law.
If you were convicted of a sex offense in Florida prior to the 2007 enactment of this law, and your case fits this criteria, our sex crimes defense lawyers can help you petition the court in an attempt to have your name removed from the sex offender’s registry.
It is important to note that the judge does have discretion in this type of case. If they opt to uphold the requirement for registering a sex offender, it may be possible to appeal.
How Much Will It Cost to Hire a Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer?
Legal fees can vary quite significantly depending upon the complexity of your case and the duration of your legal proceedings. Some cases can be resolved fairly quickly, while others may take months or even years to arrive at a resolution. These are all factors that impact the total cost of hiring a criminal defense lawyer.
To get a better idea of the legal fees involved in defending your case, contact the Law Offices of Hutchinson & Huffman for a confidential case evaluation. Call (561) 838-9793.
What are considered misdemeanor sex crimes in West Palm Beach?
What counts as felony sex crimes?
Sexual battery and sexual assault; lewd and lascivious conduct, which may include indecent exposure and improper touching; child pornography (possession, viewing and disseminating); possession of materials harmful to a minor; solicitation of a minor; and prostitution.
How do Palm Beach County police investigate sex crimes?
Sex crimes are prosecuted in a similar fashion as all other crimes except when a minor is involved. In those circumstances, someone from the child protection team will interview the minor.
What is the sex offender registration act and how does it work in West Palm Beach?
Some sex offenses, once convicted, require one to be registered as a sex offender. Registration requires one to report to the local Sheriff’s once released from prison. The individual must advise local law enforcement anytime they move residences. If one plans to travel more than five consecutive days, they must give notice to local law enforcement, who will then give notice to local authorities where you are visiting. There are many other requirements include counseling and therapy.
What are the potential consequences of conviction a sex crime in West Palm Beach?
Long term prison sentences, no contact with minors, inability to live near a school or public park, many associations have laws that restrict sexual offenders from living in the community, notices and fliers will be handed out with you picture and description of offense; sex offender registration for life or at least 25 years, counseling and therapy, restrictive travel and civil liability.
Turn to a Top Palm Beach Lawyer Following Your Sex Crimes Arrest
A sex offense arrest can be life-changing in some very profound ways. This is truly one type of conviction that can haunt you for a lifetime, impacting your career, your family and beyond. This is why it’s so important to hire an experienced sex offense lawyer who has the knowledge, skills, and strategies you need to maximize your chances of a positive outcome. Our ultimately goal is virtually always to secure a case dismissal or acquittal, but in cases where this is not possible, we will work hard to minimize the consequences, pushing for little (if any) prison time, probation, fines and other penalties. In addition to providing representation to clients accused of sex offenses, including sexual assault and child sex crimes, we can also defend you from other charges such as violent crimes, burglary and theft crimes, prostitution and solicitation, internet-related sex crimes and beyond.
At the Law Offices of Hutchinson & Huffman, our elite team of defense lawyers will work with you throughout the duration of your case, as we believe it’s important to keep our clients involved and informed. As a defense attorney, we don’t just work for the client; we work with the client in a way that reduces some of the stress you experience during the legal process.
If you or a loved one were arrested for a sex crime such as sexual battery, a lewd and lascivious offense or another offense, contact the Palm Beach defense lawyers with the Law Offices of Hutchinson & Huffman. We’re here to provide you with confidential, no-cost case consultation. Just call (561) 838-9793.