Navigating Palm Beach Sex Crime Charges: A Detailed Guide for the Accused

Right now, not everyone knows about the sex crime charges you face. However, if you are convicted of a felony sex crime in Palm Beach, then there may be serious implications for your reputation, career, and freedom. This detailed guide provides essential information for individuals accused of sex crimes in Florida, including an explanation of offenses, penalties, potential defenses, and how to choose a Palm Beach sex crime defense lawyer.

Four Types of Florida Sex Crime Felonies

Not every sex crime is a felony. Generally, sex crimes that involve alleged force or minors are felonies and have more severe consequences than misdemeanor sex crimes. If you are convicted of a felony sex crime, you may need to register with the Florida Sexual Offender and Predator System (Sex Crime Registry), and you may face the specific penalties described below.

Rape (Sexual Battery)

Florida refers to rape as "sexual battery." Sexual battery is defined as the non-consensual sexual penetration by an offender's sexual organ or an object. The charges and penalties vary depending on the victim's age and the circumstances of the offense. A sexual battery may be a:

  • Capital felony. If the victim is under the age of 12 and the alleged offender is 18 or older, then the alleged offender may be charged with a capital felony. The potential sentence for a capital felony is death or life in prison without parole.
  • Life felony. Rape may be a life felony if the alleged offender used a deadly weapon or caused a severe injury. Additionally, you may be charged with a life felony if you are under the age of 18 and the victim is under the age of 12. A life felony conviction carries a potential sentence of life in prison and a $15,000 fine.
  • First-degree felony. Many other sexual battery charges are first-degree felonies. While the potential sentence for a first-degree felony is less than a capital or life felony, you could still face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Lewd or Lascivious Offenses Involving Children

Several crimes are considered lewd or lascivious when they involve children under 16 years old. For example, you could be charged with a felony for:

  • Lewd or lascivious battery. You may be charged with a second-degree felony for engaging in sexual activity with someone between the ages of 12 and 16. The potential penalty depends on your age. If you were over 18 when the alleged crime occurred, you could face up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If you were under 18 at the time of the alleged crime, you may face five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
  • Lewd or lascivious molestation. In Florida, it is a felony to touch the buttocks, genital area, or breasts of a minor under the age of 16. Lewd and lascivious molestation is a felony with a potential sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine if the alleged offender is under the age of 18 at the time of the reported crime. However, if you were 18 or older when the reported crime occurred, you could face up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

If the alleged victim was younger than 12, you could face life in prison.

Child Pornography

Producing, distributing, or possessing child pornography is a felony in Florida. Generally, the production or distribution of child pornography is a second-degree felony, and possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony.

You may face a sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 for a second-degree felony and a sentence of five years and a fine of $5,000 for a third-degree felony. However, it is essential to note that every image or video is a distinct crime and can influence your sentence.

Solicitation of a Minor

Florida law makes it a felony to use a computer or other electronic device to solicit illegal sexual acts with a minor. In many cases, solicitation of a minor is a second-degree felony and, therefore, carries the potential sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. However, if the state proves that you misrepresented your age while soliciting the minor, then you may be charged with a second-degree felony and sentenced to up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Possible Defenses for Sex Felonies in Florida

A criminal charge is not a conviction. Florida prosecutors may aggressively pursue a sex felony charge against you, but that doesn’t mean that you are guilty or that you will go to prison, pay a fine, and have your reputation damaged.

You have the right to work with an experienced Palm Beach sex crime defense lawyer to mount a fair defense. The experienced defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Robert David Malove know how much you have at stake. We are always available to our clients, and we leave no stone unturned when preparing your defense. While every case is unique, some of the defenses we often consider in sex crime felony cases include:

  • Consent. Sex is not a crime if both parties are of age and have the mental capacity to consent. If the alleged victim consented to sexual activity, you should not be found guilty of a felony.
  • False accusations. The alleged victim may lie about what happened, motivated by spite or a desire to hurt you. Regardless of their motivations, our justice system should only convict people who actually commit crimes. You shouldn’t pay the price for someone else’s lies.
  • Factual mistakes. The prosecution must prove every element of the sex crime felony beyond a reasonable doubt. You should not be convicted of the crime if your Palm Beach sex crimes defense lawyer can show that there is a mistake regarding critical facts.
  • Alibi. If you have evidence proving that you were not present at the crime scene, this may be a compelling defense to dismiss the charges against you.

How to Choose a Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer

Many qualified Palm Beach sex crime defense attorneys can represent you if you face sex crime charges. Technically, any lawyer admitted to the Florida bar can take your case. However, with your freedom and reputation at stake, you want to make the right decision for you. Some things you may want to consider when hiring an attorney include:

  • Experience. Robert has decades of criminal defense experience and is Florida Bar Board Certified as an “expert/specialist” in criminal trial law. 
  • Work ethic. Our firm takes a “never say die” approach. We methodically review your case's strengths and weaknesses and ensure that no stone is left unturned in your defense.
  • Reputation. Former clients often provide valuable information about their lawyers. We are proud to share our client testimonials with you. For example, our client Paul said this about working with Robert: “I contacted a handful of attorneys in Broward County and choose Robert because his fee was reasonable.  He didn’t take advantage od me even though I was in a crisis. What I didn’t realize at the time was I was getting a lawyer that wasn’t about money but actually cared about helping his clients to get the best results possible. Robert went above and beyond the call of duty; never one time said it would cost more than expected. He is not your typical lawyer that’s for sure. He answered my calls and emails no matter what time or day of the week. The outcome of my case was secondary (he won/dismissed no costs). He is a true professional, a talented lawyer and a great guy. To choose another firm would be criminal.

Remember, being accused does not mean you are guilty. A strategic legal defense can significantly affect the outcome of your case.