Flaherty Defense Firm, Fort Walton Beach Criminal Lawyer
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Fort Walton Beach Statutory Rape Attorney

If you are accused of having sex with someone who was younger than 16 years old, you will likely be charged with Lewd or Lascivious Battery, more commonly known as statutory rape.

It doesn’t matter if the accuser initiated the sexual contact, or if he/she was a willing participant. It doesn’t matter if you thought the accuser was old enough, or if they lied about their age. Once the accusation is made, the police and the prosecutor in Fort Walton Beach will automatically conclude you are guilty and they will start building their case against you.

Being accused of such a terrible crime must be a very helpless feeling. Once such an accusation is made, most people assume the worst and will distance themselves from you. If you are in the military, your command may begin separation proceedings against you before you have even had your day in court. It may feel like you have been convicted already before you have even gone to court.

My name is Tim Flaherty. I founded Flaherty Defense Firm on the ideal that every client deserves to have someone in their corner who is willing to stand up for them and fight. If you have been charged with Statutory Rape in Fort Walton Beach, call me anytime, day or night, at (850) 243-6097.

Lewd or Lascivious Battery Under Florida Law

Lewd or Lascivious Battery is defined by Fla. Stat. 800.04 as engaging in sexual activity with someone who is younger than 16 years old, or encouraging, forcing, or enticing someone younger than 16 to engage in sexual activity. Sexual activity is “the vaginal, anal, or oral penetration by the sexual organ of someone else, or the vaginal or anal penetration of someone else by an object.”

Under Florida law, anyone younger than 16 is legally a child and children are not allowed to consent to sexual activity. That is also why it doesn’t matter if you didn’t know how old the accuser was. Statutory Rape is a strict liability offense. This means that if you commit the crime, and the State can prove it, you are guilty regardless of your intent or lack of knowledge.

Penalty For Statutory Rape

If you are convicted, you will face a lengthy term of incarceration in the Florida Department of Corrections. The maximum sentence you could receive for a Lewd or Lascivious Battery conviction in Fort Walton Beach is 15 years.

Defending Statutory Rape Allegations in Fort Walton Beach

I’ve already said that consent and mistakes about the accuser’s age are not defenses to a Statutory Rape charge. However, here are a few strategies or methods we have used to win these cases in the past:

Do not talk to the police

Sometimes a client will call me before he/she has been arrested, while the case is still being investigated. The very first thing I tell them is don’t talk to the cops. It doesn’t matter if the cops are telling you that you aren’t a suspect or that you “seem like a good guy.” If they are wanting to talk to you, they think you are a child molester or a rapist. They will be looking to trick you, lie to you, and deceive you into saying something incriminating.
Tell them that you will not talk to them without a lawyer present, and then call me at (850) 243-6097. I will call the officers directly and get them off your back.

False accusation

This is more common than a lot of people think. We defended a client a couple of years ago in Fort Walton Beach who was accused of committing Statutory Rape against a family member. He was insistent that he didn’t do it. We prepared for over 6 months getting ready for his trial. In the end, we were able to make a very effective argument that she was making the whole thing up because she was mad at my client over something silly. Fortunately, the jury saw this, and found my client not guilty.

It took months and months of preparation to be able to raise this defense at trial. If we had done anything less, there is no doubt in my mind that our client would be sitting in prison right now instead of being back with his wife and kids.

Negotiation with the prosecutor

Believe it or not, sometimes the prosecutor is willing to be reasonable in working out a resolution our client is happy with. Usually, this is only applicable when our client is also a young person (under the age of 20) who was in a relationship with the accuser. In those situations, technically, our client was still guilty under the law, but the prosecutor was willing to take other factors into account. We have successfully resolved several of those kinds of cases with no prison time and no sex offender designation. In some of them, our client was not even convicted of a felony.

The bottom line is that every case is different and requires a different approach. Being able to adapt to the unique circumstances of every case only comes from years of experience defending Statutory Rape cases in Fort Walton Beach. Because I limit my practice to this area, I know the prosecutors and the Judges who will be assigned to the case. I have tried cases against all of them, so I know their strengths and weaknesses.

Why You Should Hire a Fort Walton Beach Statutory Rape Attorney

More than any other type of case, sex crimes require a particular set of skills in order to defend them properly. A combination of legal knowledge, trial experience, and compassion is needed. At Flaherty Defense Firm we believe every client accused of Lewd or Lascivious Battery deserves our very best. My team and I will be relentless in steering you towards the best outcome possible.

If you have been charged with Lewd or Lascivious Battery or Statutory Rape in Fort Walton Beach, call Flaherty Defense Firm at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation. Everything we discuss will be kept strictly confidential. You can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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