I have a lot of experience defending sexual offenses in Fort Walton Beach. One of the questions I get the most often is about the age of consent.
The age of consent is the age that someone must be before they can legally consent to sex. In other words, if someone is below the age of consent, it doesn’t matter if they willingly engage in sexual behavior. The law is in place to protect young people from being taken advantage of before they are old enough to make the decision for themselves.
If you plan on having sex with someone, you better be sure they are over the age of consent because if they aren’t, you are in a lot of trouble. The police in Fort Walton Beach will coordinate with the Children’s Advocacy Center and their number one goal will be to send you to prison.
One reason the age of consent issue in Florida is so confusing is that there are really two different ages of consent, depending on the charge and also on the age of the suspect.
Lewd or Lascivious Crimes in Fort Walton Beach
Lewd or Lascivious (L & L) crimes include the following:
- Lewd or Lascivious Molestation
- Lewd or Lascivious Battery
- Lewd or Lascivious Conduct
- Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition
All of these charges involve sexual contact or activity with, or in the presence of, a person who is under 16 years old.
The age of consent appears to be 16 then, right? This is where the law gets confusing. The Lewd or Lascivious statutes all seem to suggest that the age of consent is 16 years old. And it is, for L & L crimes.
Does that mean you can engage in sexual activity with a 16-year-old? Not if you are 24 years old or older.
Unlawful Sexual Activity With Certain Minors
This charge can be found in Florida Statute 794.05. It states that you are guilty of Unlawful Sexual Activity With Certain Minors if you have sex with a 16- or 17-year-old if you are 24 or older.
Does This All Seem Confusing?
The two charges make it clear there are two ages of consent. If you are less than 24 years old, you may lawfully have consensual sex with a 16 or 17-year-old. If you are 24 or older, you may not legally have sex, whether consensual or not, with anyone under 18 years old.
Have You Been Arrested For a Sex Crime in Florida?
If you've been arrested for a sex crime Fort Walton Beach, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 for a free, confidential case review.