Fort Lauderdale Child Molestation Lawyer
Accused of Child Abuse in Broward County?
In Florida, the penalties for child molestation are incredibly severe. They can include costly fines and the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence. However, one of the most discouraging consequences of a conviction, or even accusation, is that this type of crime is often highly publicized and can ruin your reputation. The support system you once had may no longer be in place once word gets out.
This is why it's crucial to hire an attorney who has experience handling serious sex crimes, including allegations of child molestation. Call Hager & Schwartz, P.A. at (954) 840-8713 for a FREE consultation. We're available 24/7.
Penalties for Lewd or Lascivious Molestation
According to Florida law, an individual who intentionally touches a minor younger than 16 years old in a lewd or lascivious manner—meaning sexually or lustfully—can be charged with child molestation. This type of touching can occur on the genitals, buttocks, breasts, or clothing covering these areas.
The following are the penalties for child molestation in Florida, based on the minor’s age:
- Child under 12 years old – If an adult molests a child under the age of 12, they can be charged with a life felony – which is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and lifetime registration as a sex offender. If a person younger than 18 molests a child younger than 12, they can be charged with a second-degree felony, which carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence, up to $10,000 in fines, and sex offender registration for up to 15 years.
- Child between the ages of 12 and 16 – If an adult who is at least 18 years of age molests a child who is at least 12 years old, but no older than 16, they can be charged with a second-degree felony. However, if a person younger than 18 years old molests a child who is between the ages of 12 and 16, they can be charged with a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence, a fine no more than $5,000, and sex offender registration for up to five years.
When it comes to second and third-degree felony cases, the court can forego the required minimum prison sentence under certain circumstances – including cases where the child initiated or willingly participated in the incident, the defendant has a mental disorder that requires specialized treatment, or the defendant must be sentenced as a juvenile offender prior to turning 21 years of age.
Designation as a Sex Offender
If you are convicted of lewd or lascivious molestation under Florida Statute § 800.04 (5) , not only will you be placed on sex offender probation, but you will also be required to register as a sex offender. This means you must comply with sex offender registration laws—potentially for the rest of your life.
Several consequences of sex offender registration include:
- Your name is permanently added to the National Sex Offender Registry
- Your movements and travel are restricted
- You must remain a certain distance away from children, including your own
- You cannot work unsupervised with children
- You may have trouble finding a job due to your status
Common Legal Defenses to Child Molestation
There are two main defenses to lewd and lascivious molestation: false accusations and lack of lewd intent. When it comes to child molestation charges, the prosecution must prove the defendant had a lewd or lascivious intent. If there is no such intent, there is no case. On the other hand, the defendant cannot use consent, being unaware of the child’s age, or closeness in age as legal defenses.
What Should I Do After I Have Been Charged?
Do not say anything to law enforcement officials. Explaining your side of the story may only make the situation worse because what you say can be misinterpreted or misconstrued. Prosecutors may use this information later on during trial to undermine you. This is why you need a Fort Lauderdale child molestation attorney who can prepare an iron-clad defense to combat those arguments.
A few ways that an attorney can aid in the defense of a child molestation case:
- Determine whether or not the child was lying or incorrectly identified the defendant
- Prove the defendant has a solid alibi, detailing where they were at the time of the offense
- Present evidence that does not support the accusation of child molestation
- See if the child was coached on what to say in court or misinterpreted the situation
Hiring a lawyer is your best bet when fighting child molestation charges. They can provide legal advice, prepare counter-arguments, and bring up any issues that need to be addressed right then and there. A lawyer is also your source for answers, to help ease any fears or anxieties about the road ahead and what you can expect. If you are ready to discuss your case with an attorney, contact our firm.
Available 24/7 – Call Now to Discuss Your Charges
Any time you are facing serious sex crime charges, especially one as severe as child abuse, it is in your best interest to have an attorney handling your defense. Even if you believe that the evidence is weak, you can make your case that much stronger by having experienced defense lawyer on your side.
Contact our Fort Lauderdale child abuse attorneys at Hager & Schwartz, P.A. as soon as possible for a free consultation: (954) 840-8713. We're available 24/7.
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