Defense Against Child Molestation Charges
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Child molestation charges, like most sex crime charges, are very serious, and the repercussions can leave one with a blemished reputation for many years after. Even if the accused person is ultimately relieved of their charges after trial deliberations and what not, the stigma that surrounds the case will always surround the individual for the rest of their life.
Florida Child Molestation Laws & Penalties
Florida law states that a person who intentionally touches the genitals, buttocks, breasts, or clothing that covers those areas of a child younger than 16 years old, he/she could be charged with lewd or lascivious molestation. Lewd and lascivious are defined as being sexual, lustful, or wicked in nature.
Child molestation is considered a felony offense, which carries a prison term, expensive fines, and registration as a sex offender in Florida. The severity of the penalties depends on the age of the defendant and the child.
Here are the penalties for child molestation in Florida, according to age:
- If the defendant is at least 18 years old and the child is under 12 – The defendant can be charged with a life felony, which carries a life imprisonment sentence (with a minimum term of 25 years), a maximum $10,000 fine, and sex offender probation for life.
- If the defendant is at least 18 years old and the child is between 12 and under 16 years of age – The defendant can be charged with a second-degree felony, punishable by a prison term of up to 15 years, a maximum $10,000 fine, and sex offender probation for 15 years.
- If the defendant is under 18 years of age and the child is younger than 12 – The defendant can be charged with a second-degree felony.
- If the defendant is under 18 years of age and the child is between 12 and under 16 – The defendant can be charged with a third-degree felony, which carries a prison term of up to five years, a maximum $5,000 fine, and sex offender probation for up to five years.
Defenses Available for Child Molestation
Pretrial defenses include illegal search and seizure, the statute of limitations, and warrantless arrests, which can be raised through a motion to suppress or dismiss. Trail defenses include alibi, duress, or even entrapment.
Additionally, there are two main defenses to child molestation charges: lack of lewd intent and false allegations.
To prove the defendant committed lewd or lascivious molestation, the prosecution must show lewd or lascivious intent when the defendant engaged contact with a minor. If there is no sexual or lustful intent when the defendant touched the child, he/she cannot be charged with child molestation.
On the other hand, false allegations can occur for many reasons. The most common reasons include being forced by angry or mentally ill parents, the child has a mental illness, or even jealousy.
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As you can see, these penalties are quite severe; for those who were wrongly accused and must defend themselves, it is all the more imperative to retain legal counsel who can wholeheartedly fight to protect you. Remember that in these situations, the stakes are high, so do not leave your case in the hands of a mediocre or weak team---trust only Hager & Schwartz, P.A.!
Call our Miami sex crime attorneys now for the tough legal defense you need!