There is no way to sugar coat it. It is hard to think of a crime with more of a negative social stigma than a sexually related offense. When it comes to sex crimes, most people tend to think you are guilty until proven innocent instead of the other way around. Just being accused of such a terrible crime is enough to ruin your reputation, your career, and your family. That is only the beginning. If you are convicted of a sex crime in Destin or anywhere in Florida, you will likely go to prison for a very long time and be forced to register as a sexual offender for the rest of your life.

A Destin sex crime defense lawyer can help you protect your rights. Contact Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 460-7470 for a free consultation.

Defending you against a sex crime accusation in Destin

My name is Tim Flaherty. I am the founder of Flaherty & Merrifield. Since 2001, I have been defending clients accused of sex crimes in Destin. Brandy Merrifield is my partner. We have an extensive track record of success in these cases, including winning them at trial, negotiating reduced charges, and avoiding charges altogether in some cases. We know what it takes to fight sexual allegations. We are ready to protect you when you need it most.

If you think you might be under investigation for a Destin sex crime, or if the police have asked you to talk to them about a sex crime allegation, it is very important that you follow our advice and Do Not Talk To The Police! More than any other type of case, your words will be used against you. The police know how to trick people into incriminating themselves.

The #1 reason people go to prison for sex crimes in Destin and throughout Florida is because they talked to the cops without having an attorney present. Don’t make that mistake. Tell them that you will not answer any questions without your attorney present. Then pick up the phone and call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 460-7470. Brandy and I will tell the officer directly that you are represented by counsel and you will not be speaking to them outside of our presence. Then, we can talk about whether it helps your case to give them a statement or not. If you do decide to give a statement, we will be there with you every step of the way.

What are the most common sex crimes in Destin?

There are numerous potential sex crime allegations under Florida law, but the most common ones we see in Destin are Sexual Battery and Lewd or Lascivious Behavior. You can click either link below for more information about them:

Sexual Battery

Sexual Battery is the crime commonly referred to as rape. Florida Statute 794.011 defines Sexual Battery as penetrating the vagina, anus, or mouth of someone else without their consent. Sexual Battery can be charged as a 2nd degree or 1st degree felony depending on the circumstances. The penalty ranges from 15 years to Life in prison.

For more information about Sexual Battery/Rape charges in Destin, click here.

Lewd or Lascivious Behavior

Lewd or Lascivious crimes refer to sexual activity of a minor under the age of 16. Florida Statute 800.04 provides an overview of the different L & L charges that criminalize touching, fondling, molesting, or having sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 16. L & L crimes are either a 3rd degree, 2nd degree, or 1st degree felony. There is a wide variation in the possible penalty, which ranges from five years to Life in prison.

For more information about Lewd or Lascivious charges in Destin, click here.

Destin Sex Crime Penalties

All sex crime allegations in Florida are felony offenses. All of them are punishable by many years in prison if you are convicted. There are also sentencing enhancements that apply, depending on the facts in your case, that dramatically increase the sentencing exposure. Most sexually related offenses in Destin are either second degree or first degree felonies.

  • A second degree is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
  • A first degree is punishable by 30 years to life in prison.

Sex Crime Penalties by Charge

A table outlining various Florida sex crimes and their penalties.

Charge Statute Misdemeanor/
Degree Maximum Penalty
Sexual Battery of a victim 12 years or older without force 794.011(5) Felony 2nd 15 years prison and $10,000 fine
Lewd or Lascivious Molestation; victim 12 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age; offender less than 18 years 800.04(5)(d) Felony 3rd 5 years prison and $5,000 fine
Lewd or Lascivious Battery 800.04(4) Felony 2nd 15 years prison and $10,000 fine
Soliciting a minor for sex using a computer 874.0135(3)(a) Felony 3rd 5 years prison and $5,000 fine
Traveling to meet a minor for sexual activity 847.0135(4) Felony 2nd 15 years prison and $10,000 fine
Sexual Battery on a victim less than 12 by a person 18 years or older 794.011(2) Felony Capital Felony Life in prison
Unlawful sexual activity with specified minor 794.05(1) Felony 2nd 15 years prison and $10,000 fine
Lewd or Lascivious Conduct 800.04(6)(b) Felony 2nd 15 years prison and $10,000 fine
Sexual Battery of a victim less than 12 years old by a person less than 18 years old 794.011(2) Felony Life Life in prison and $15,000
Sexual Battery with the use of a weapon 794.011(3) Felony Life Life in prison and $15,000
Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition; offender 18 years of age or older 800.04(7)(b) Felony 2nd 15 years prison and $10,000 fine
Solicitation of a minor to participate in sexual activity by custodial adult 794.011(8)(a) Felony 3rd 5 years prison and $5,000 fine
Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition in the presence of an elderly person or disabled adult 825.1025(4) Felony 3rd 5 years prison and $5,000 fine
Video Voyeurism 810.145(2)(a) Felony 3rd 5 years prison and $5,000 fine
Indecent Exposure of Sexual Organs 800.03 Misdemeanor 1st 1 year jail, $1,000.00 fine and 1 year driver’s license suspension
Indecent Exposure of Sexual Organs in the presence of a person younger than 16 800.04 Felony 2nd 15 years prison and $10,000 fine

Doing whatever it takes to defend sex crimes in Destin

When faced with such a terrifying ordeal, it would be easy to feel like there is no hope and that you could be going to prison.

Do NOT make the mistake of thinking your life is over. Just because you have been accused of a sexually related offense, it does not mean you will be convicted. The smartest thing you can do right now is hire the best criminal defense lawyer you can find. A lawyer with the experience you need. The attorney you choose to defend you could mean the difference between going free and going to prison.

If you are thinking about saving some money and just letting the public defender represent you, ask yourself: How much is your freedom worth? How much is getting to see your kids grow up worth? If you are still a young person with your whole life in front of you, how much is your future worth?

We believe that everyone deserves an aggressive and zealous defense. That every client, regardless of what they are accused of, is worth fighting for.

We will NOT judge you. We will defend you.

If you have any questions, pick up the phone and call us. It’s a free consultation with no obligation and no pressure. We can talk about your situation, and we will tell you exactly what we can do for you.

Contact a Destin Sex Crimes Attorney

If you or a loved one have been charged with a sex crime in Destin, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.

Tim Flaherty
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney