Ignorance or Belief as to Victim's Age no Defense
In many states, ignorance or belief about a victim's age is not a defense to statutory rape charges. In Florida, statutory rape is a strict liability statute. A defendant is not able to argue that the victim lied about their age or concealed their age. If you have sex with someone who is under age 18, you can face statutory rape charges or other sex crime charges. Ignorance or belief as to the victim's age is no defense. It can be stressful to be accused of statutory rape. However, a conviction is not inevitable, and an experienced Bradenton statutory rape lawyer can use certain defense strategies to pursue a favorable outcome. Hanlon Law fights for the rights of people accused of statutory rape, sexual battery, and other sex crimes.Ignorance or Belief as to the Victim's Age is no Defense
Intent is a requisite element of most crimes. However, you do not need to have any particular intent to be convicted of statutory rape, which is based on two things: (1) sex (2) with a minor under age 18. Florida's age of consent is 18, and people who are under that age are believed to be unable to give meaningful consent. Moreover, even if you truly believe that the person who had sex with you was an adult, or you were intentionally deceived, you can face statutory rape charges.
Statutory rape is a charge that is brought under a couple of different statutes, and the statutes define what must be proven. It may be charged as lewd and lascivious sexual battery, for example. Or, if a prosecutor believes that it might be challenging to prove that a sex act actually took place, you may be charged with traveling to meet a minor.
Although Florida Statute section 794.021 prohibits you from raising the defense that you were ignorant about a victim's age, and you cannot argue consent, there are other viable defenses that an attorney may be able to argue. It may be possible to raise a reasonable doubt about whether sex happened at all. You have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, which means that the prosecutor may need the minor to testify against you. It is common, particularly if there was a romantic relationship, for a minor to be uncooperative with the prosecutor's efforts to pursue statutory rape charges. Without that testimony, it may be tough to establish that intercourse or another sex act occurred.
In other situations, it may be appropriate to negotiate with the prosecutor. A prosecutor may be willing to charge you with a lesser crime if you are willing to plead guilty. For example, it may be appropriate to plead guilty to child abuse rather than pleading guilty to lewd or lascivious battery. While the latter requires you to register as a sex offender, the former does not.
While sex crimes often require registration as a sex offender, there are certain exemptions for which you can petition. For example, if the victim was 14-17, and you were no more than four years older, you may qualify to petition for a Romeo and Juliet exemption. If the petition is granted, you will not need to register as a sex offender anymore. This is important because needing to register for a lifetime as a sex offender is a substantial burden. It can affect your ability to go to your own child's school, where you can live, and the jobs that you can have.Consult a Dedicated Sex Crime Lawyer in the Bradenton Area
Ignorance or belief as to a victim's age is no defense to sex crimes involving minors in Florida. If you are being investigated for a sex crime against a minor, it is imperative to consult a skillful trial attorney in Bradenton with experience defending people accused of these crimes as soon as possible. Will Hanlon has defended the accused since 1994 and understands how draconian the consequences of a sex crime conviction, such as statutory rape or child pornography, can be. Contact Hanlon Law at 941.253.0254 or via our online form.