Sexually Motivated Crimes in Florida
Every allegation of sexual misconduct is serious. Law enforcement officers often rush to make an arrest without doing a complete investigation, even in cases with no physical evidence. Although consent is often the central issue in the case, the prosecutor has many ways to show a lack of consent.
The attorney that you hire should know how to show problems with the way physical evidence was gathered or analyzed in the case, the junk science used by prosecutors, and testimony about rape trauma syndrome and related concepts.
It is important to find an attorney before an arrest is made. The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm are selective in taking cases that involve an allegation of a sexually motivated crime.
If we cannot take your case, we will be happy to recommend an attorney for you. If we agree to take on a case, then we will help you fight the case aggressively for the best result at every stage of the case.
Attorneys for Sex Crimes in Tampa, FL
The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm provide a free and confidential consultation so that you can discuss the criminal accusation.
Seeking a consultation with an attorney as soon as possible remains the best way to protect yourself against a false accusation. We pride ourselves in fighting these cases aggressively at every stage.
The criminal penalties that accompany a sexually motivated crime are tremendously serious. The indirect consequences that come with the accusation can last a lifetime.
Finding an attorney that can fight to protect your good name is the most important decisions you will make after a false allegation that you committed a sexually motivated crime.
After a false allegation of a sexually motivated crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss the case in Tampa for Hillsborough County, Bartow or Lakeland for Polk County, Clearwater or St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, Dade City or New Port Richey in Pasco County, Florida.
Let us put our experience to work for you. Call (813) 250-0500.
Types of Sex Crimes Under Florida Law
Sexually motivated crimes can include the following types of charges under Florida law:
Soliciting for Prostitution under Florida Statute Section 796.07 – the most common sex crimes are misdemeanor charges for soliciting a person for prostitution or any lewd act. Other common crimes include offering to engage in prostitution or maintaining a place of prostitution. Solicitation charges focus on the sex worker (often called “the prostitute”), the person paying for sex (often called “the john”), and the person who facilitates the interaction (often called “the pimp”). Many of these cases involve elaborate prostitution sting operations, especially in Polk County, FL. Prostitution-related crimes include the following offenses:
- Soliciting for the Purpose of Prostitution or a Lewd or Indecent Act;
- Soliciting for Prostitution, Lewdness, or Assignation;
- Offering to Commit, Committing, or Engaging in Prostitution, Lewdness, or Assignation;
- Maintaining a Place of Prostitution, Lewdness, or Assignation;
- Receiving for the Purpose of Prostitution, Lewdness or Assignation;
- Transporting for the Purpose of Prostitution, Lewdness or Assignation; and
- Entering for the Purpose of Prostitution, Lewdness, or Assignation.
Indecent Exposure and Lascivious Acts – charges of being a “flasher” or acting in a lascivious manner come with serious penalties and punishments.
- Committing Unnatural and Lascivious Act § 800.02, Fla.Stat.; and
- Exposure of Sexual Organs (In a Vulgar or Indecent Manner) § 800.03.
Voyeurism under Florida Statute Section 810.14 – charges for voyeurism can include using a video camera, dissemination of videos, and using commercial video to secretly observe or record the victim with a lewd or indecent intent.
- Video Voyeurism § 810.145(2)(a) or (b) or (c);
- Video Voyeurism Dissemination; and
- Commercial Video Voyeurism.
Sexual Battery Crimes in Florida – Sexual battery charges (often called “rape” or “sexual assault”) provides for different penalties and punishments depending on the age of the defendant and victim at the time of the incident.
- Sexual Battery — Victim Less Than 12 Years of Age § 794.011(2), Fla.Stat;
- Sexual Battery — Victim 12 Years of Age or Older — Great Force § 794.011(3);
- Sexual Battery — Victim 12 Years of Age or Older — Specified Circumstances § 794.011(4);
- Sexual Battery — Person 12 Years of Age or Older § 794.011(5);
- Solicitation of Child – Under 18 Years of Age to Engage in an Act That Constitutes Sexual Battery by Person in Familial or Custodial Authority § 794.011(8)(a);
- Sexual Battery upon Child 12 Years of Age or Older But under 18 Years of Age by Person in Familial or Custodial Authority § 794.011(8)(b); and
- Unlawful Sexual Activity with Certain Minors § 794.05.
Lewd and Lascivious Acts – The penalties and punishments for lewd and lascivious acts depend on the acts committed and the age of the victim.
- Lewd, Lascivious, Indecent Assault or Act Upon or in the Presence of Child;
- Lewd or Lascivious Battery (Engaging in Sexual Activity) § 800.04(4)(a);
- Lewd or Lascivious Battery (Encouraging, Forcing or Enticing) § 800.04(4)(b);
- Lewd or Lascivious Molestation § 800.04(5);
- Lewd or Lascivious Conduct § 800.04(6);
- Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition Presence of Child § 800.04(7)(a);
- Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition Over Computer Service § 847.0135(5);
- Lewd or Lascivious Offenses Committed Upon or in the Presence of an Elderly or Disabled Person § 798.02.
Failure to Register as a Sexual Offender – once convicted of a sexually motivated crime under Florida law, the offender must register as a sexual offender. Any violation in complying with the sex offender registration rules will result in criminal charges. The different types of charges for failure to register as a sexual offender include:
- Failure to Comply with Registration of a Residence, Motor Vehicle, Trailer, Mobile Home, Manufactured Home, Vessel, or Houseboat;
- Failure to Comply with Registration of Employment or Enrollment at an Institution of Higher Learning;
- Failure to Report to Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles;
- Failure to Report Change of Name or Address within the State or Jurisdiction;
- Failure to Report Change of Residence to Another State or Jurisdiction;
- Failure to Report Intent to Remain within the State or Jurisdiction;
- Failure to Report Twice A Year/Failure to Report Quarterly;
- Failure to Register as a Sexual Predator (Initially Register In Custody, Control or Under the Supervision of the Department of Corrections);
- Initially Register – Not in Custody, Control Or Under Supervision of the Department of Corrections or a Private Correctional Facility;
- Failure to Comply with Registration Requirements;
- Failure to Comply with Registration of a Residence, Motor Vehicle, Trailer, Mobile Home or Manufactured Home;
- Failure to Comply with Registration of Enrollment or Employment in Institutions of Higher Education;
- Failure to Report to Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles;
- Failure to Provide Other Necessary Information Requested by Department of Law Enforcement;
- Failure to Report Change of Name or Address within the State or Jurisdiction;
- Failure to Respond to Address Verification;
- Failure to Report Intent to Move to Another State or Jurisdiction;
- Failure to Report Intent to Remain within The State or Jurisdiction; or
- Failure to Register Quarterly.
Definitions in Sex Crime Cases
Sexual Predator – a “sexual predator” or “dangerous sexual predator” designation under Florida Law comes with special reporting requirements and a variety of restrictions.
- Sexual Predator Definitions
- Dangerous Sexual Felony Offender under § 794.0115, Fla. Stat.
Soliciting Child for Sexual Conduct Using Computer or Device – in these cases, officers use elaborate undercover sting operations by posing as a child online. Many of these cases start with ads on Craigslist or discussions in chat rooms. Charges can include:
- Soliciting a Child For Unlawful Sexual Conduct Using Computer Services or Devices § 847.0135(3)(a), Fla.Stat.;
- Soliciting a Parent, Legal Guardian, or Custodian of a Child For Unlawful Sexual Conduct Using Computer Services or Devices § 847.0135(3)(b), Fla.Stat.;
- Child Pornography – Most child pornography cases involve thousands of images downloaded onto a computer. The penalties can result in lengthy prison sentences even for individuals with no prior criminal record;
- Traveling to Meet a Minor Child – this charge also frequently involves an undercover sting operation that begins with detective’s posing as a minor or a parent who is willing to arrange a meeting for some illegal purpose including:
- Traveling to Meet a Minor § 847.0135(4)(a), Fla.Stat.; and
- Traveling to Meet a Minor Facilitated by Parent, Legal Guardian, or Custodian § 847.0135(4)(b).
The Prosecution of Sex Crimes in Florida
Sex offenses are different from other serious felonies in Florida. Prosecutors face unique difficulties in the prosecution and conviction of sexual offenses. Many of these cases involve victims who are child witnesses and not always the most reliable witnesses.
If the case lacks substantial corroborative evidence, the child must testify in court. Children do not always possess the intellectual and emotional skills needed to explain what happened truthfully.
Many of these cases involve victims who are child witnesses and not always the most reliable witnesses. If the case lacks substantial corroborative evidence, the child must testify in court. Children do not always possess the intellectual and emotional skills needed to explain what happened truthfully.
A recent report by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) estimated that throughout Florida the average age of the victims was 13.4 years old. Eighty-three percent were 15 or younger. Also, the cases are more difficult for the prosecutor because approximately 85% of the victims knew the offender. In many cases, the child is influenced by other people in their life, especially when child custody or support issues are also at issue.
For all of these reasons, false allegations are likely in these cases. Prosecutors use all of the leverage they have to negotiate a plea bargain for a mitigated sanction or sentence length. The person accused, often scared about an injustice at trial, might consider that plea bargain even if they believe they are innocent of the charges. In many of these cases, a person is fighting to avoid being required to register as a sex offender.
Sting Operations with Online Ads and Florida’s Entrapment Defense
In some cases, a person is entrapped as a matter of law by the actions of law enforcement under both the subjective and objective standards. The criminal defense attorney in these kind of cases for sexually motivated crimes should file and litigate a motion to dismiss founded on entrapment. In many of these cases, law enforcement officers will engage in online advertisements:
- with advertisements for sex with an adult in order to target those involved in prostitution-related offenses; or
- with advertisements for sex with a minor child in order to target child-sex predators.
The defense of objective entrapment is evaluated under the due process provision of article I, section 9, of the Florida Constitution. The “ ‘[o]bjective entrapment analysis focuses on the conduct of law enforcement’ and ‘operates as a bar to prosecution in those instances where the government’s conduct so offends decency or a sense of justice that it amounts to a denial of due process.’ ” State v. Henderson, 955 So.2d 1193, 1194 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007) (quoting Davis v. State, 937 So.2d 300, 302 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006)).
Especially when a person has prior arrests or criminal history, was not the target of a criminal investigation, and had no prior improper sexual contact with minor children, either in person or over the Internet, the previously described actions of law enforcement were so egregious that due process principles should “absolutely bar the government from invoking judicial processes to obtain a conviction.” State v. Glosson, 462 So.2d 1082, 1084 (Fla.1985) (quoting United States v. Russell, 411 U.S. 423, 431–32, 93 S.Ct. 1637, 36 L.Ed.2d 366 (1973)).
The defense of subjective entrapment is codified at section 777.201, Florida Statutes, which provides:
(1) A law enforcement officer, a person engaged in cooperation with a law enforcement officer, or a person acting as an agent of a law enforcement officer perpetrates an entrapment if, for the purpose of obtaining evidence of the commission of a crime, he or she induces or encourages and, as a direct result, causes another person to engage in conduct constituting such crime by employing methods of persuasion or inducement which create a substantial risk that such crime will be committed by a person other than one who is ready to commit it.
(2) A person prosecuted for a crime shall be acquitted if the person proves by a preponderance of the evidence that his or her criminal conduct occurred as a result of an entrapment. The issue of entrapment shall be tried by the trier of fact.
Subjective entrapment “focuses on inducement of the accused based on an apparent lack of predisposition to commit the offense.” Henderson, 955 So.2d at 1194 (quoting Davis, 937 So.2d at 302). The analysis for subjective entrapment under section 777.201 involves the following type of three-step inquiry:
- whether an agent of the government induced the accused to commit the offense charged;
- whether the accused was predisposed to commit the offense charged; and
- whether the entrapment evaluation should be submitted to a jury or decided by the court as a matter of law.
Statistics on Prosecutions for Prostitution-Related Crimes
According to statistics kept by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for 2016, there were:
- 209 prostitution arrests by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (with a population 420,000 people in the county)
- 219 prostitution arrests in Broward County (with a population of 1.9 million)
- 86 arrests by Miami-Dade County police (covering 1.2 million people)
- 181 arrests in Hillsborough County (with 1.35 million people)
- out of the 181 arrests in Hillsborough County, 113 of them were in the City of Tampa
Revocation of the Driver’s License for Prostitution Using a Motor Vehicle
Can your Florida’s driver license be revoked if you are convicted of a crime involving lewdness or prostitution? Yes, it can because Florida Statute Section 322.26(7) requires the mandatory revocation of a driver’s license after a conviction for “[a]ny violation of the law against lewdness, assignation, and prostitution where such violation has been effected through the use of a motor vehicle.”
In these cases, the arresting officer will write up the prostitution or lewdness allegation on a uniform traffic citation (UTC) alleging that the offense involve the “use of a motor vehicle.”
Florida Statute Section 322.26 does not permit the revocation of the driver’s license when the defendant only used the vehicle to drive to the scene of the crime. Instead, the statute requires something more, such as the crime taking place while the defendant is inside the vehicle. Watson v. State, 556 So. 2d 489 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990).
As explained in BAR Bulletin 98-03, Bulletin 010-98, Fla. Stat. §322.271, and F.A.C.15A-1.019(4), unless specifically required by court order, a non-driving suspension or revocation for Lewdness or Immoral Acts under §322.26(7) does not require school attendance.
Special Bond Considerations in Sex Crime Cases
Under Section 903.046, F.S., any person arrested, who is a sexual offender or a sexual predator is not eligible for release on bail or a surety bond until the person ‘s first appearance hearing, unless the arrest is for a misdemeanor offense under chapter 316, F.S.
Factors Relating to the Sentencing of Sex Offenders- Visit the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) which is the research arm of the Florida Legislature. The research offered by the EDR impact policy-making in these difficult cases. EDR publishes demographic and agency workload forecasts for the Florida legislature, state agencies, and the general public. The study compares the sentences for men and women accused of similar crimes based on criminal code scoresheets prepared for non-capital offenses, the race of offenders sentenced for sexual offenses, the average age at time of the offense for offenders sentenced for sex crimes, the average number of prior felonies, and the percentage of prison admissions. The report also looks at the relationship between the offender including whether they were immediate family, non-immediate family, other known person, or a stranger.
Florida Becomes the Harshest State for Sex Offenders – Visit the website of Aljazerra America to learn more about how why Florida toughened laws detaining sex offenders indefinitely for crimes they haven’t yet committed. This recent news article explains civil commitment which is similar to forcing a severely mentally ill person into treatment but is reserved for those who were convicted of violent sexual offenses, completed their sentences, but then were judged to still be a risk. For more than 20 years, civil commitment proceedings have spread across the United States. In Florida, it was recently expanded to include offenders serving time in jail. A prosecutor with the state attorney’s office is now required to refer a person to civil commitment. The judge must order a person into civil commitment custody.
Finding a Lawyer for Sexual Motivated Crimes in Florida
After an accusation involving any type of sexually based offenses (often called “sex crimes“) under Florida law, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. These charges come with serious criminal penalties including sex offender probation and sex offender reporting requirements.
Our attorneys represent clients in the greater Tampa Bay area including Tampa for Hillsborough County, Clearwater or St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, Dade City or New Port Richey in Pasco County, Bartow or Lakeland for Polk County, Florida.
The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm are selective in taking cases that involve an allegation of a sexually based offense. But when we do take the case, we aggressively fight the case at every stage to help our client fight for the absolute best possible result.
Call (813) 250-0500.
This article was last updated by Jason D. Sammis on Thursday, April 9, 2020.