Any crime involving a lewd act, commonly referred to as a lewd or lascivious act, is taken very seriously in the state of Florida. The crimes that fall under this umbrella involve children under the age of 16 and are therefore filed as felonies. Sentences can include fines that exceed $10,000 and decades spent in state prison. As an experienced Sarasota sex offense lawyer, Erika Valcarcel recognizes that people are often falsely accused of lewd acts. With practice as both a prosecutor and a defender, she deeply understands the inner workings of the legal system. You deserve to have your rights and your freedom protected.
Understanding Lewd Acts
According to Chapter 800 of the Florida Criminal Code, a number of crimes fall under the category of lewdness and indecent exposure. The first, and least severe, crime is referred to as lewd or lascivious exhibition. This offense is defined as an individual intentionally: masturbating; exposing their genitals; or any other sexual activity that does not include actual contact with the victim. The crime that sits on the next rung of the ladder is lewd or lascivious conduct. In essence, this crime involves an individual touching a child under the age of 16 in a way that does not quite qualify as molestation. Solicitation of a child to perform lewd sex acts is also punished as lewd or lascivious conduct.
Predictably, the next crime on the list takes lewd behavior a step further. Lewd or lascivious molestation takes place when a person touches the breasts, genitals, or buttocks of a child under the age of 16. It is also considered molestation if the victim is forced to touch the perpetrator inappropriately. The final, and most severe, crime in chapter 800 of Florida statute is labeled as a lewd or lascivious battery. This offense is defined as engaging in any sexual activity with a child under the age of 16. Forcing the victim to engage in any form of sexual abuse or prostitution is also considered a form of battery.
Penalties and Collateral Consequences
Contrary to popular belief, all of the crimes that fall under the lewd acts category are filed as felonies. In many cases, the crime might be elevated to a more serious felony if certain aggravating factors exist. If the accused has a previous conviction, for example, a charge of lewd battery might be elevated from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony. The victim being under the age of 12 is another factor that will result in harsher penalties. Typical sentences include, but are not limited to:
- Lewd Exhibition: A fine of up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison
- Lewd Conduct: A fine of up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison
- Lewd Molestation: A fine of up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison
- Lewd Battery: A fine of up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison
There are also collateral consequences of a criminal conviction that can haunt you for the rest of your life. Finding a job, for example, might be all but impossible once you are released from prison. The majority of employers shy away from hiring those with criminal records. It may also be difficult to continue your education, as many colleges, and universities vet applicants before admitting them.
Contact Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. Today
In cases involving lewd acts committed against children, several defenses are not allowed. Claiming that the child’s age was unknown or stating that the child consented to sexual conduct are both forbidden. One of the only effective defenses is proving that the abuse did not occur. Children have been known to lie, and they may just be imagining that something inappropriate occurred. Another strategy is claiming that you are the victim of mistaken identity. Perhaps abuse did occur, but maybe the child has mistaken you for someone else. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable.
If you have been accused of a crime involving lewd acts, you are likely worried about the consequences a conviction could bring. Your family may not be able to survive if you are sent to prison, and your career could be torn apart. If you would like to protect your rights and maintain your freedom, contact Sarasota sex offender lawyer Erika Valcarcel of Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. She will do whatever it takes under the law to make sure that your side of the story is told, whether that involves proving police misconduct or conducting an independent investigation.
Call (941) 363-7900 now for a free and confidential consultation.