When someone is accused of molesting a child, even close friends and family can turn against them. Whether you did it or not, it is an incredibly stressful and terrifying ordeal to go through. If you are feeling like you’ve already been found guilty before you’ve even been to court, it may feel like your situation is hopeless.
It is important to remember that an accusation is just that, an accusation. An arrest is nothing more than an accusation. It does not mean you will be proven guilty in court. At this early stage of the case, when you’re still trying to process how this happened, you need a team on your side who can help you make rational, clear-headed decisions. How you decide to handle this could mean the difference between clearing your name or going to prison.
My name is Tim Flaherty. I’ve been a criminal defense attorney in Destin and Okaloosa County since 2001. Brandy Merrifield is my partner. At Flaherty & Merrifield, our motto is very simple: We don’t judge. We defend.
If you have been arrested, or you are under investigation, give the Destin lewd or lascivious behavior defense lawyers of Flaherty & Merrifield a call at (850) 460-7470. The first meeting is free, and all communication will be kept strictly confidential.
How does an attorney defend Lewd or Lascivious cases in Destin?
Lewd or Lascivious cases are tough to defend. Under Florida law, it is 100% irrelevant if the child agreed or consented to having sex. It is also irrelevant if the child lied about how old they were.
We’ve defended numerous clients accused of Lewd or Lascivious Behavior so we have a lot of experience in building custom defenses that fit each individual case. Having said that, here are a few issues that we have used to our clients’ advantage in the past:
Never give a statement to the police without talking to a lawyer first.
This is, by far, the #1 thing you can do for yourself. Guilt or innocence does not matter at this state. If the police are trying to talk to you, that means they think you are guilty. They will lie to you, trick you, and manipulate you into saying something that gets you in even more trouble. Don’t make a bad situation worse. If the police call you, or show up at your house, tell them that you refuse to talk to them without a lawyer. At that point, they are legally required to stop asking you questions. That is where we come in.
The Victim’s motive to lie or make a false accusation.
A few years ago, we defended a man accused of Lewd or Lascivious Behavior. The allegation was that he had sex with an underage family member during a family reunion. He was facing at least 15 years in prison. After conducting an extensive investigation of the victim’s background, we learned that she had become infatuated with our client and had made several advances towards him. After the vacation was over, she continued to text my client. Her mother found the texts and confronted her. The girl was afraid of getting in trouble so she made up a story that my client had sexually molested her. This man lost his job, his life, and his reputation over this.
Our client was adamant that he was 100% innocent. After several months of preparation, we went to trial. After a VERY contentious trial, our client was found Not Guilty. He was able to walk out of the courtroom with us as a free man.
Anything less than our absolute best would have led to this client being convicted, designated a sex offender, and sent to prison. We can’t promise the same result in your case, but we CAN promise that we will put the same amount of work into building and presenting your defense and attacking every aspect of the State’s case.
No Physical Evidence
A lot of times, these accusations don’t come to light until much later. If so, it is very unlikely that a rape kit was done. It also means that there will probably not be any physical evidence that links you to the crime. There may not be any physical evidence to suggest a crime was committed at all. If all the State has is the victim’s word, that’s a he-said-she-said situation. Under the law, you are presumed innocent, so without more than just the victim’s claim, it can be hard for the State to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. This issue also highlights why it is so important to follow the advice above about not talking to the police.
What are the different types of Lewd or Lascivious crimes in Destin, Florida?
Florida Statute 800.04 lists all of the Lewd or Lascivious crimes. Here is a list of the L & L cases that we have experience defending:
- Lewd or Lascivious Molestation
- Lewd or Lascivious Battery (statutory rape)
- Lewd or Lascivious Conduct
- Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition
(1) Lewd or Lascivious (L&L) Molestation
Florida Statute 800.04(5) defines Lewd or Lascivious Molestation as:
“intentional touching, in a lewd or lascivious manner, of the breasts, genitals, genital area, or buttocks, or the clothing covering them, of a person less than 16 years old.”
What sentence am I facing for Lewd or Lascivious Molestation?
The maximum penalty depends on the age of the defendant and the age of the victim.
If the defendant is 18 or older, and the victim is at least 12 years old, but younger than 16, L & L Molestation is a 2nd-degree felony with a possible sentence of 15 years in prison.
If the victim is younger than 12 years old, the penalty is a mandatory 25 years in prison with the possibility of a LIFE sentence.
(2) Lewd or Lascivious Battery (Statutory Rape)
Lewd or Lascivious Battery or Statutory Rape is defined by Florida Statute 800.04(4) as “engaging in sexual activity with a person 12 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age; or encourages, forces, or entices any person less than 16 years of age to engage in any act involving sexual activity.
If you are wondering what constitutes sexual activity, Florida Statute 800.04(1)(a) defines it as: “vaginal, anal, or oral penetration by the sexual organ of someone else, or the vaginal or anal penetration of someone else with an object.”
What sentence am I facing for Lewd or Lascivious Battery in Destin?
L & L Battery is a second-degree felony that is punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Under Florida sentencing guidelines, Lewd or Lascivious Battery is a Level 8 offense with 74 points. 74 points calculates to a minimum of 34.5 months in prison. If additional points are added for sexual contact (40 points) or sexual penetration (80 points), the minimum sentence increases to 64.5 to 94.5 months in prison.
(3) Lewd or Lascivious Conduct
L & L Conduct is a “catch-all” charge that allows the State Attorney to prosecute someone for touching a child anywhere on their body, if it was done in a lewd or suggestive manner.
Lewd or Lascivious Conduct is a very dangerous accusation because oftentimes, it involves innocent touches that are misinterpreted. L & L Conduct is a 2nd-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
(4) Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition
Fla. Stat. 800.04(7) defines L & L Exhibition as:
“a person who intentionally masturbates, exposes the genitals in a lewd or lascivious manner; or intentionally commits any other sexual act that does not involve actual physical or sexual contact with the victim, including but not limited to sadomasochistic abuse, bestiality, or the simulation of any act involving sexual activity, in the presence of a victim who is less than 16 years of age, commits lewd or lascivious exhibition.”
Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition is a 2nd-degree felony that carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
Contact a Destin Lewd or Lascivious Attorney
If you have been charged with Lewd or Lascivious Molestation, Lewd or Lascivious Battery, Lewd or Lascivious Conduct, or Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition in Destin, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 460-7470 for an immediate, free consultation.