What is a sex crime?
The term "sex crime" is a very broad term indeed. Actions ranging from viewing child pornography images unwittingly to violent sexual assault all may be called sex crimes. Common sex crime charges and accusations include the following:
- Solicitation of a minor
- Internet child pornography
- Lewd behavior
- Sexual assault
- Date rape, perhaps facilitated by a drug that is known to lower inhibitions
- Solicitation of prostitution
What is "date rape"?
Date rape is not an actual legal term, but is a vernacular description of a situation in which one party forces sexual relations on the other in a dating situation. These cases often amount to a "he said/she said" situation in which a judge and jury must decide whether a sex act was consensual or forced based on each person's testimony and other evidence.
Is marital rape a legitimate criminal charge in Florida?
Any act of forced intercourse is considered a crime — and marriage does not lessen the charges. Whereas common law used to consider marital rape a contradiction in terms, that is not the case today. If your spouse forced sex on you, you may ask law enforcement and prosecutors to press charges. If your spouse has accused you of rape, you need a defense lawyer.
What is a "complaining witness" in a sex crime case?
The person who claims to have witnessed or to have been victimized in a sex crime case is the complaining witness. It may be the child who says that he or she was molested by a church leader or camp counselor, for example. Or it may be someone else who claims to have witnessed sexual abuse of a child or sexual assault of an adult.
Is sex with a minor always considered a serious crime, even if it is consensual?
Individual circumstances vary. See the 2009 Florida statute that answers this question:
794.05 Unlawful sexual activity with certain minors.--
(1) A person 24 years of age or older who engages in sexual activity with a person 16 or 17 years of age commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. As used in this section, "sexual activity" means oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another; however, sexual activity does not include an act done for a bona fide medical purpose.
(2) The provisions of this section do not apply to a person 16 or 17 years of age who has had the disabilities of nonage removed under chapter 743.
(3) The victim's prior sexual conduct is not a relevant issue in a prosecution under this section.
(4) If an offense under this section directly results in the victim giving birth to a child, paternity of that child shall be established as described in chapter 742. If it is determined that the offender is the father of the child, the offender must pay child support pursuant to the child support guidelines described in chapter 61.
See also the "Romeo and Juliet" law, Florida Statute 943.04354. Talk to a Florida sex crime defense lawyer to discuss removal under this law of the requirement for some minors to register as sex offenders.
What are some commonly successful defense strategies in sex crime cases?
The credibility of the complaining witness may be scrutinized. The way in which law enforcement gathered evidence should be studied carefully. Extenuating circumstances such as a child custody dispute should be explored and taken into account. Each case is different and driven by a specific set of facts. Talk to an attorney to discover the best plan of attack in your case if you must defend yourself against allegations of a sex crime. Are you targeted with false accusations?
Ask your own question.
Our criminal defense attorneys at the Orlando Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz, P.A., are available to answer your questions regarding sex crimes. We bring more than 30 years of experience to bear on every case. Our phone is answered 24 hours a day. Contact our Orlando law office to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation with a lawyer. Call our law office at (407) 401-7224.