Law Office of William B. Wynne
2501 Orient Rd., Suite D
Tampa, FL 33619
Law Office of William B. Wynne
2501 Orient Rd., Suite D
Tampa, FL 33619
Statutory rape (aka sex involving a minor below the age of consent in Florida) is a serious felony criminal charge which (if convicted) can result in penalties of up to life in prison. Further, the stigma of statutory rape allegations can jeopardize your future aspirations, your career, and your reputation. If you are facing statutory rape charges, it is imperative that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
The Age of Consent in Florida is 18. The age-of-consent is the minimum age at which an individual is legally able to consent to participation in sexual activity. Under Florida law, children under the age of 18 are not legally able to consent to sexual activity. Thus, such activity can lead to prosecution for statutory rape.
Statutory rape refers to sexual relations between a minor (someone under the age of consent in Florida) and an adult (someone over the age of 18). The rationale behind the law is that minors are incapable of consenting to sexual relations. In fact, the law presumes that sexual activities involving minors are inherently coercive.
Statutory rape refers to sexual relations between a minor (someone under the age of consent in Florida) and an adult (someone over the age of 18).
Florida does have a “close-in-age” exemption. To prevent young lovers from being unjustly prosecuted for statutory rape, the law in Florida provides an exception allowing certain minors to have sexual relations with adults—provided they are relatively close in age. Under this exemption, minors aged 16 or 17 can lawfully engage in consensual sexual relations with adults who are under the age of 24.
A few key takeaways regarding the law:
To summarize everything above, if the defendant is over the age of 24, he cannot (under any circumstances) have sex with a minor that is less than 18 years of age. If the defendant is younger than 24, he or she can lawfully engage in sexual activity with a minor aged 16 or 17—provided the sexual activity was consensual. But remember, if the minor is younger than 16, there are no exemptions, and it is illegal no matter how young (or old) the defendant is.
|Under 18||24 and Up||-Illegal-|
|16 or 17||Under 24||-Legal-|
|Under 16||Any Age||-Illegal-|
Statutory rape is considered a strict liability crime. This means that it does not matter if the defendant didn’t know the victim was underage. In fact, it does not matter if the victim lied about his or her age. Ignorance or reasonable mistake as to the victim’s age is not a defense to Florida statutory rape charges.
In Florida, statutory rape can be thought of as an umbrella term, which broadly encompasses many different illegal acts. In fact, unlawful sexual activity with minors can be prosecuted under several different sections of the Florida Statutes.
Under Florida Statute 943.0435, individuals convicted of certain sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders for the remainder of their life, and regularly update their personal information. Therefore, in addition to the harsh penalties associated with statutory rape in Florida, a defendant convicted of one of these offenses is required to register as a sex offender.
Named after the two young lovers in William Shakespeare’s famous play, Florida’s Romeo and Juliet Law was passed in Florida’s 2007 State Legislative Session. The law is enumerated in Florida Statutes, section 943.04354. There is much confusion about the nature, purpose, and application of Florida’s Romeo and Juliet Law.
Contrary to popular belief, Florida’s Romeo and Juliet Law is not a defense to criminal accusations. Nor is it something that exempts, confers immunity, or protects someone accused of such a crime. Ostensibly, the law was passed in response to the growing recognition that age-of-consent and statutory rape laws weren’t always being enacted and enforced in a way that made sense—specifically with regard to similarly aged teens and young adults. Thus, the law was created to give young lovers already convicted of statutory rape offenses an option to avoid being registered sex offenders. Under Florida’s Romeo and Juliet Law, convicted defendants can petition to be removed from the sex offender registry, provided certain criteria are met.
The Romeo and Juliet statute creates a two-prong procedure for removing the registration requirement. Matos v. State, 184 So.3d 1194 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015). First, the trial court must find that the offender meets all of the criteria in the statute and that removal would not conflict with federal law. Id. Second, notwithstanding the result under the first prong, the statute gives the trial court discretion to approve or deny the petition. Id.
Under Florida’s Romeo and Juliet Law, a defendant may petition to be removed from the sex offender registry, if he or she can meet the enumerated criteria. Most notably:
The Law Office of William B. Wynne aggressively defends statutory rape charges involving minors below the age of consent in Florida, along with other sex crimes. We offer free consultations and payment plans to those who qualify. Contact Attorney William B. Wynne to schedule your free consultation.
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