It is hard to imagine how stressful and humiliating it must be to be accused of molesting or sexually abusing anyone, let alone a child. Sometimes, even your family and closest friends doubt you and lose trust in you. If you are facing such an accusation, you are probably looking for someone who will listen to your side of the story.

You deserve to have someone in your corner who will help you, not judge you.

We have had clients tell us that they felt like they had already been convicted before they had even had their day in court.

If you are feeling that way, please remember that being accused or arrested for a Lewd or Lascivious (L & L) crime does not mean you will be convicted. It does NOT mean that your life is over. Taking proactive steps right now to defend yourself can make all the difference in whether you walk away from this or go to prison and be labeled a sex offender for the rest of your life.

Allegations of Lewd or Lascivious Acts can be difficult to defend. The way Florida law is written, it does not matter if the alleged victim “consented” to the sexual activity. What is even more surprising is that you can still be charged even if they lied about their age. We have seen it happen time and time again. If an accusation of sexual contact with a child is made, the Crestview Police and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department will make an arrest.

My name is Tim Flaherty. My partner’s name is Brandy Merrifield. We defend our clients with one simple philosophy:

Everyone, no matter what they are accused of, should have an advocate on their side who
will fight for them.

If you are being investigated, or you have been arrested, for a Lewd or Lascivious crime in Crestview, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 398-8098. When going through something like this, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking your life is over and there is nothing you can do about it. Now is not the time to give up. Let our Crestview lewd or lascivious act defense attorneys help you. We have won these cases before.

Defending Lewd or Lascivious cases in Crestview

As stated earlier, consent is never a defense in L & L cases. Neither is mistake about the alleged victim’s age. Every case is different, so there is no cookie-cutter approach. Your defense will be customized and unique to your set of facts.

Here are some ideas and strategies we have used in the past to successfully defend L & L cases:

Don’t talk to the police

This is probably the most important piece of advice anyone can give you. Whether you are under investigation, or you have already been arrested, the police already think you are guilty if they are wanting to talk to you. They will lie to you, manipulate you, and trick you into incriminating yourself. If the police want to question you, politely tell them that you will NOT talk to them without an attorney present. Then, pick up the phone and call us at (850) 398-8098.

False Accusations/Motive to Lie

This can be very effective. We have used this defense to secure not guilty verdicts at trial for clients accused of Lewd or Lascivious charges. The key is to identify what motivation the alleged victim has for making an accusation like this up, and then exploiting that to your benefit.

Lack of Physical Evidence

Unless a rape kit is done right away, usually there will not be any physical evidence to prove any sexual activity took place. Then, the case becomes “he said-she said”. All the more reason why you should not talk to the police.

Negotiation with the Prosecutor

Lewd or Lascivious cases are tough to resolve with a plea bargain that doesn’t include a prison sentence. That is why a high percentage of them end up going to trial. However, we have defended several of these cases that ended up being settled without a prison sentence, sexual offender designation, or felony conviction.

Usually, this happens in cases where the prosecutor is having trouble with their alleged victim. We work very hard in the pre-trial phase of the case to expose the weaknesses in the State’s case through witness interviews, depositions, and motions in court. If we are able to get the prosecutor to doubt their own “victim”, they are much more willing to discuss favorable plea terms.

No matter what, it will always be your decision whether to accept a plea bargain or go to trial. We will present your options and help you make an informed decision.

An Overview of Lewd or Lascivious Crimes in Crestview, Florida

L & L crimes can be found under Florida Statute 800.04. The following are the Lewd or Lascivious crimes we defend:

  1. Lewd or Lascivious Molestation
  2. Lewd or Lascivious Battery (statutory rape)
  3. Lewd or Lascivious Conduct
  4. Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition

(1) Lewd or Lascivious (L&L) Molestation

L & L Molestation is found in Florida Statute 800.04(5):

“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 is the penalty for L & L Molestation in Crestview?

The potential penalty varies depending on the age of the alleged victim, as well as the age of the defendant. Regardless of age, however, a conviction requires a lifetime designation as a sexual offender.

If the alleged victim was 12 or older, but less than 16, and the defendant was under the age of 18, the maximum penalty is 5 years in prison.

If the alleged victim was 12 or older, but less than 16, and the defendant was 18 or older, the maximum penalty is 15 years in prison.

If the alleged victim was under the age of 12, and the defendant was 18 or older, the maximum penalty is LIFE in prison, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years.

(2) Lewd or Lascivious Battery (Statutory Rape)

Florida Statute 800.04(4) provides the definition for Statutory Rape in Crestview 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.

Under this statute, sexual activity is defined 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.” See Florida Statute 800.04(1)(a).

As with all L & L charges, it does not matter if the child agreed or “consented” to the sexual activity. Children cannot legally consent to sexual activity. It also does not matter if the child lied about their age, or led the accused to believe they were of legal age.

What is the penalty for Statutory Rape in Crestview?

Lewd or Lascivious Battery is a second-degree felony that is punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison. A conviction also carries the additional penalty of designation as a sexual offender.

Under Florida’s Punishment Code Scoresheet, L & L Battery is a Level 8 offense and scores 74 points.

Using the 74 points, the minimum sentence under the guidelines would be calculated as follows:

74 points – 28 X 0.75 = 34.5 months in prison as a minimum.

If points for sexual contact are added, the sentence would be calculated as follows:

74 points + 40 points for sexual contact = 114. 114 – 28 X 0.75 = 64.5 months as a minimum.

If points for sexual penetration are added, the sentence would be calculated as follows:

74 points + 80 points for penetration = 154. 154 – 28 X 0.75 = 94.5 months in prison.

(3) Lewd or Lascivious Conduct

Prosecutors love this charge because it acts as kind of a “catch-all.” It gives them the legal authority to prosecute anyone for touching a child any place on their body if it was done in a “lewd” manner. You can see scenarios where an innocent touch could be misinterpreted. Maybe a coach patting a player on the back, or a teacher touching a child’s shoulder. If the child alleges that the touch was “creepy” or done in a lewd manner, the prosecutor can file the charge.

L & L Conduct is punishable by up to 15 years in prison if the defendant was 18 years old or older at the time the crime was committed. If the defendant was under the age of 18, the maximum penalty is 5 years in prison.

(4) Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition

L & L Exhibition is defined in Florida Statute 800.04(7) 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.”

If the defendant was 18 years old or older, L & L Exhibition is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

If the defendant was under the age of 18, the charge is a third degree felony with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.

Call a Crestview Lewd or Lascivious Crimes Defense Attorney

At Flaherty & Merrifield, we are not afraid of the tough cases. If you are being investigated for an L & L crime, or you have already been arrested and you want to see what our team can do for you, call us at (850) 398-8098.

Click here to learn more about our Crestview sex offense practice areas.

Brandy Merrifield
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney