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Statutory Rape

Florida Statute Section 794.05 makes it unlawful for a person over the age of 24 to engage in sexual activity with a person 16 or 17 years of age. Colloquially, the crime is often called “statutory rape.”

Statutory rape crimes charged under Florida Statute 794.05 are classified as a “strict liability crime.” See §§ 794.05, .021, Florida Statutes. For example, under section 794.05, “[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.” A second degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison.

A strict liability statute imposes criminal liability regardless of fault.

Florida’s statute prohibiting statutory rape does not require that the prosecutor for the State Attorney’s Office actually prove the defendant’s knowledge of the minor’s age. Additionally, for statutory rape crimes, ignorance about the minor’s age or even a belief that the minor was over 18 years old is no defense. Even the fact that the minor consented to the sexual contact or initiated the sexual contact is NOT a defense.

Attorney for Statutory Rape Crimes in Tampa, FL

If you were accused of having inappropriate contact with a young person who is under the age of 18, then contact an experienced criminal attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

Our attorneys represent clients accused of crimes charged under Florida Statutes Section 794.05 which prohibits a person who is over 24 years old from engaging in sexual activity with a person who is 16 or 17 years of age.

Contact us for a free consultation to find out how “statutory rape” crimes are prosecuted in Tampa, Hillsborough County, or the surrounding areas in Tampa Bay.

During the consultation, we can explain the elements of the crime, the statutory minimum and maximum penalty, and the best defenses to fight for an outright dismissal of the charges.

We can explain why statutory rape is classified as a “strict liability crime.” If you did not know the minor’s age or thought the minor was over 18 years old, we can explain how those facts might impact the case.

Learn more about why “consent” is an absolute defense to crimes for sexual battery or forcible rape, but not for crimes charged under Florida Statute Section Section 794.05 when the alleged victim was 16 or 17 years old.

We represent clients charged with sexually motivated crimes in all of the surrounding Tampa Bay areas including Brooksville in Hernando County, Dade City and New Port Richey in Pasco County, Clearwater in Pinellas County, Bradenton in Manatee County, and Bartow in Polk County.

Our main office has been located at the same location in downtown Tampa, FL, for the past 10 years. We also have a second location in New Port Richey across from the courthouse.

Call 813-250-0500.


Why Consent Is NOT a Defense to Statutory Rape

The Florida legislature determined that consent does not apply to statutory rape charges. As one court explained:

The legislature has “recognized the difficulty of defining exactly what ‘consent’ consists of when the ‘consenting’ party is a child, what might be deemed the communication of “consent” by a minor, how a minor would be expected (or required) to communicate lack of consent and determining the earliest age at which “consent” would be valid are just some of the obvious reasons why the legislature has determined this defense cannot apply in such cases.”

See State v. Ibennah (Circuit Court, 11th Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County. Case No. F17-17780, Section 5, FLWSUPP 2811IBEN, December 30, 2020)(citing State v. Raleigh, 686 So. 2d 621, 623 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996), cause dismissed, 694 So. 2d 739 (Fla. 1997).

In Schmitt v. State, 590 So. 2d 404, 410-11 (Fla. 1991), the court explained: “By the same token, it is evident beyond all doubt that any type of sexual conduct involving a child constitutes an intrusion upon the rights of that child, whether or not the child consents.”

In Feliciano v. State, 937 So. 2d 818, 820 (Fla. 1st DCA 2006), the court concluded: “unemancipated minors are under a statutory disability that precludes consent to sexual activity with adults.”

As these cases show, Florida’s statute for statutory rape does not require the State to prove the defendant’s knowledge of the minor’s age, and ignorance or belief as to the minor’s age is no defense.


This article was last updated on Thursday, July 15, 2021.

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