Lewd and Lascivious Charges
The Florida legislature has broadly defined lewd and lascivious acts. The words “lewd,” “lascivious,” and “indecent” mean the same thing which is a lustful, licentious, unchaste, wicked, or sensual intent on the part of the person doing an act.
On December 5, 2018, the jury returned a “not guilty” in a case pending before the Honorable Susan L. Barthle in Dade City, FL. The crime of Lewd and Lascivious Molestation is a first degree felony, punishable by life in prison (with a 25 year minimum mandatory prison sentence).
Instead of facing those penalties, our client was exonerated and walked out of the courthouse with us after the jury returned the “not guilty” verdict. Leslie M. Sammis was the lead attorney in the case.
Disclaimer: The facts of your case may differ from the facts discussed here. Not all case results are listed here. The case results discussed here are not necessarily representative of the results obtained in all cases. Each case is different and must be evaluated and handled on its own merit.
If you are accused of this serious offense in the Tampa Bay area, you need a criminal defense attorney who will aggressively fight your case at every stage.
Many of these cases involve accusations in juvenile court against children under the age of 18 who allegedly touched an even younger child. For an adult accused of inappropriate touching a child, disabled person, or elderly person, the charges are even more serious.
Lewd and lascivious charges can involve inappropriate touchings, although physical conduct is not even required. Many of these offenses can involve an improper exhibition that takes place over a cell phone video or computer.
Attorneys for Lewd and Lascivious Crimes in Tampa, FL
If you have been accused of the very serious offense of lewd and lascivious, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm.
We represent clients charged with serious sex crimes including lewd and lascivious by indecent assault, battery, exhibition, or molestation throughout the greater Tampa Bay.
We fight sexually motivated crimes in the courtrooms in Tampa in Hillsborough County, Brooksville in Hernando County, New Port Richey or Dade City in Pasco County, Clearwater in Pinellas County, or Bartow in Polk County, Florida.
Call (813) 250-0500 to discuss your case today.
Types of Lewd and Lascivious Charges under Florida Law
Under Florida law, criminal offenses that alleged lewd and lascivious behavior require more than a negligent disregard of decent proprieties and consideration due to others. Lewd and lascivious offenses are indicative of sexual conduct or the unlawful indulgence in lust while eager for sexual indulgence.
The terms are synonyms that connote unchaste, wicked, licentious, lustful, or sensual design on the part of the alleged perpetrator.
Florida law provides for different types of lewd and lascivious crimes depending on the age of the person accused and the age of the alleged victim as well as the type of sexual contact alleged. These sexually motivated criminal charges come with harsh penalties that vary depending on the way in which the offense is charged.
The Severity of Lewd and Lascivious Crimes in Florida
By looking at the offense level under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code’s Offense Severity Ranking Chart, you can determine the severity of different forms of lewd and lascivious crimes.
Florida law provides for several different types of charges for “Lewd and Lascivious” crimes including:
- Level 4 – Section 800.04(7)(d) – 3rd degree felony – Lewd or lascivious exhibition; offender less than 18 years;
- Level 5 – Section 800.04(6)(c) – 3rd degree felony – Lewd or lascivious conduct; offender less than 18 years;
- Level 5 – Section 800.04(7)(c) – 2nd degree felony – Lewd or lascivious exhibition; offender 18 years or older;
- Level 5 – Section 825.1025(4) – 3rd degree felony – Lewd or lascivious exhibition in the presence of an elderly person or disabled adult;
- Level 6 – Section 800.04(5)(d) – 3rd degree felony – Lewd or lascivious molestation; victim 12 years of age or older but less than 16 years; offender less than 18 years:
- Level 6 – Section 800.04(6)(b) – 2nd degree felony – Lewd or lascivious conduct; offender 18 years of age or older:
- Level 7 – Section 800.04(5)(c)1. – 2nd degree felony – Lewd or lascivious molestation; victim less than 12 years of age; offender less than 18 years:
- Level 7 – Section 800.04(5)(c)2. – 2nd degree felony – Lewd or lascivious molestation; victim 12 years of age or older but less than 16 years; offender 18 years or older;
- Level 8 – Section 800.04(4) – 2nd degree felony – Lewd or lascivious battery;
- Lewd or Lascivious Battery (Engaging in Sexual Activity) § 800.04(4)(a), Fla.Stat;
- Lewd or Lascivious Battery (Encouraging, Forcing or Enticing) § 800.04(4)(b), Fla.Stat;
- Level 8 – Section 825.1025(2) – 2nd degree felony – Lewd or lascivious battery upon an elderly person or disabled adult;
- Level 9 – Section 800.04(5)(b) – 1st degree felony – Lewd or lascivious molestation; victim less than 12 years; offender 18 years or older;
- Level 9 – Section 787.02(3)(a) – 1st degree felony – False imprisonment; child under age 13; perpetrator also commits aggravated child abuse, sexual battery, or lewd or lascivious battery, molestation, conduct, or exhibition; or
- Level 10 – Section 787.01(3)(a) – Punishable by Life (PBL) in Prison – Kidnapping; child under age 13, perpetrator also commits aggravated child abuse, sexual battery, or lewd or lascivious battery, molestation, conduct, or exhibition.
In addition to conduct, exhibition, and molestation, Florida law also prohibits lewd or lascivious exhibition over a computer service under Florida Statute § 847.0135(5), Fla.Stat. or Lewd or Lascivious Offenses Committed Upon or in the Presence of an Elderly or Disabled Person under Florida Statute § 798.02.
Charges for lewd and lascivious conduct often accompany other types of charges for sexually motivated crimes such as Sexual Battery under § 800.04, aggravated sexual battery, or the possession of child pornography.
Statute of Limitations for Lewd and Lascivious Acts
The statute of limitations for lewd and lascivious acts depends on the type of offenses alleged including:
- One year for any second-degree misdemeanor charge of “Unnatural and Lascivious Act” under Florida Statute Section 800.02 for committing an unnatural and lascivious act with another person; or
- Two years for any first degree misdemeanor charge of “Exposure of Sexual Organs” under Florida Statute Section 800.03 for exposing or exhibiting one’s sexual organs in public or on the private premises of another, or so near thereto as to be seen from such private premises, in a vulgar or indecent manner, or to be naked.
When is a Child Classified as Juvenile Sexual Offender for a Lewd Act?
For the criminal defense attorney, establishing the juvenile’s age at the time of the offense is a very important part of the defense. At the time of the plea, the criminal defense attorney wants it to be clear that the crime occurred before the juvenile’s 14th birthday. The prosecutor and the court can stipulate to this fact for purposes of a negotiated plea, even when some evidence might show that the crime occurred after the juvenile’s 14th birthday.
Section 943.0435, F.S., requires a juvenile, 14 years old or older at the time of the offense, who is adjudicated delinquent for specified enumerated offenses, on or after July 1, 2007, is designated as a “sexual offender.”
Under Section 943.0435(1)(a)1.d., the court must make a written finding of the age of a juvenile at the time of the offense. A juvenile designated as a sexual offender under this statute is required to register in the same manner as an adult designated as a sexual offender.
The offenses that qualify a juvenile as a sexual offender include:
Section 800.04(5)(d), F.S. (specified act of lewd or lascivious molestation) when the:
- The defendant is less than 18 years of age;
- The victim is 12 years of age or older but less than 16 years; and
- The court finds the use of force or coercion and unclothed genitals.
Section 800.04(5)(c)1., F.S. (specified act of lewd or lascivious molestation) when the:
- The defendant is less than 18 years of age;
- The victim less than 12 years of age; and
- The court finds molestation involved unclothed genitals.
Section 800.04(4)(a)2., F.S. (lewd or lascivious battery by specified sexual activity) when the:
- The victim is under 12 years of age; or
- The court finds sexual activity by the use of force or coercion.
Read more about how our criminal defense attorneys defend juveniles charged with sex crimes in Florida.
Recent Legislative Changes Related to Victims of Sex Crimes
The Florida legislature recently passed a bill under Chapter 2016-199. This new legislative change amends Sections 92.53 and 92.55, to raise the age for videotaping victims or witnesses or having them testify in the presence of the defendant, from 16 to under 18.
Investigators in sex crime cases should be cognizant of this change when interviewing victims.
The new bill amends Section 787.06, to provide that a victim’s lack of chastity or consent is not a defense to human trafficking if the victim was a minor.
The bill also amends Section 794.022 to not require corroboration of a victim in a prosecution for human trafficking or lewd and lascivious acts under Section 800.04, it also extends the rape shield law to victims of human trafficking or lewd and lascivious acts under Section 800.04.
The recent legislative change also extends the rape shield law to victims of human trafficking or lewd and lascivious acts under Section 800.04.
New Legislation in 2022 Creating Section FS 794.051
Effective October 1, 2022, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 444 which created Florida Statute 794.051, making it a felony in the third degree for a person twenty-four (24) years of age or older to either:
- intentionally touch in a lewd or lascivious manner, the breasts, genitals, genital area, or buttocks, or the clothing covering them, of a person 16 or 17 years of age, or
- force or entice a person 16 or 17 years of age to so touch the perpetrator.
• This section does not apply to a person 16 or 17 years of age who has had the disability or nonage removed under chapter 743.
F.S. 800.04 Florida’s Lewd or Lascivious Statute – Visit the website of the Florida Senate to find the statutory language for Section 800.04 in lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age. The website contains the definitions of terms used under the statute including “consent” and “coercion.” Learn about prohibited defenses based on not knowing the victim’s age. Find information on molestation charges under Florida law and potential penalties.
Finding a Lawyer for Lewdness and Lasciviousness in Florida
If you were accused of lewd and lascivious conduct then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We represent clients charged with these serious criminal charges throughout the Tampa Bay area including Tampa and Hillsborough County, FL.
These crimes come with serious criminal penalties including possible incarceration, sex offender registration requirements, and lengthy terms of sex offender probation.
Call us about aggressively defending you if you have been falsely accused of this serious criminal offense.
Call (813) 250-0500.
This article was last updated on Monday, October 10, 2022.