Fort Lauderdale Child Molestation Defense Lawyer
Get Defense from a Ft. Lauderdale Sex Crime Attorney
Florida severely punishes individuals who have been convicted of child molestation. The penalties are incredibly severe—leaving a strain on you, your family, and anyone close to you left to pick up the pieces. There are financial penalties, and you could face the possibility of a lengthy jail sentence.
What is most discouraging of all the penalties is that this type of crime is often highly publicized and can ultimately ruins one’s reputation. The support system you once had may no longer be in place once word gets out.
That is when it becomes crucial to hire an attorney with particular experience handling serious crimes, including allegations of child molestation. Contact us for experienced representation.
Child Molestation Penalties in Florida
According to Florida law, an individual who intentionally touches a minor younger than 16 years old in a lewd or lascivious manner—which means sexual or lustful—can be charged with child molestation. The touching occurs 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 who is at least 18 years of age molests a child under 12 years old, he/she can be charged with a life felony, punishable by a maximum life prison term (with a minimum term of 25 years), a fine of up to $10,000, and lifetime registration as a sex offender. However, if a person younger than 18 molests a child younger than 12, he/she can be charged with a second-degree felony, which carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence, a fine no more than $10,000, and sex offender registration for up to 15 years.
- Child between 12 and younger than 16 years old – If an adult who is at least 18 years of age molests a child who is 12 years old or younger than 16, he/she can be charged with a second-degree felony. However, if a person younger than 18 molests a child who is 12 years old or younger than 16, he/she 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 if 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, not only will you be placed on sex offender probation, but you must also register as a sex offender. This means you must comply with Florida 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 will experience employment issues for being a convicted sex offender
Common Legal Defenses to Child Molestation
There are two main defenses to lewd and lascivious molestation: false accusations and lack of lewd intent. False accusations often occur if an angry parent manipulates a child, a child is jealous of not receiving enough attention, or a child has a mental illness.
When it comes to child molestation, 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. Discussing the circumstances can only make the situation worse because anything that is often said can be misinterpreted or misconstrued. Prosecutors may use this information later on during trial to try to undermine you. This is when a Ft. Lauderdale sex crime lawyer becomes necessary—to prepare an iron-clad defense to combat those arguments.
How our legal team can help:
- Determine whether or not the child was lying or incorrectly identified the accused
- Prove that accuser had a solid alibi, detailing where he or she was at the time of the offense
- Show whether the evidence does support the accusation of molestation
- See if the child was coached on what to say in court or misinterpreted the situation
A lawyer is your best bet and ally to fight molestation charges. They provide legal advice about the situation, prepare the 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.
Do Not Hesitate to Contact Hager & Schwartz, P.A.!
Any time you are facing serious sex charges, especially one as severe as child molestation, it is in your best interest to rely on your attorney to handle all of the steps moving forward. Even if you believe that the evidence is weak, you can make your case that much stronger by having experienced sex crime attorneys on your side.
Contact our Fort Lauderdale sex crime lawyers as soon as possible for a free, confidential case consultation. We are your aggressive voice in the courtroom and beyond.