criminal defense attorneyIs there anything more humiliating than being accused of touching, fondling, or having sex with a child? If you are facing such an accusation, you may feel like there is no one who will listen to your side of the story; no one who will stand by your side and make sure that you are protected.

If you are reading this page, you have come to the right place. We have earned a hard-fought reputation in Okaloosa County as attorneys that can be counted on to mount a strong defense against the most serious of sexual abuse allegations. If you have been arrested for a Lewd or Lascivious crime in Okaloosa County, or if you are currently under investigation, call Tim Flaherty or Brandy Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 and let us put our reputation and experience to work for you.

Lewd or Lascivious Crimes Under Florida Law

Pursuant to Florida Statute 800.04, in all prosecutions for Lewd or Lascivious crimes, consent is NOT a defense, and mistake as to the victim’s age is NOT a defense.

This page will give an overview of the three types of Lewd or Lascivious charges that we see most often in Okaloosa County:

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

Lewd or Lascivious (L&L) Molestation

If you have been accused of touching or fondling a child’s private areas, the charge will most likely be L & L Molestation. It is defined more specifically in Florida Statute 800.04(5) 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.”

As stated earlier, under Florida law, children cannot legally consent to sexual activity so consent is not a valid defense.

What is the penalty for L & L Molestation in Okaloosa County?

Using the Florida Punishment Code Scoresheet, L & L Molestation carries 56 points which places it in the mandatory prison range. In addition, there are several sentencing enhancements that can dramatically affect the outcome.

One of those enhancements allows the state to double the number of points for any adult on minor sexual crimes. If the state elects to do so, the point total increases to 112 points. Another way the state can increase the guideline sentence is to add sexual contact (40 points) or sexual penetration (80 points) to your Scoresheet.

These enhancements can affect your sentence as follows:

  • 112 points scores out to a minimum of 63 months in prison.
  • If 40 points are added to the 112, the sentence scores out to a minimum of 93 months in prison.
  • If 80 points are added to the 112, the minimum sentence under the guidelines will be 123 months.

Depending on the age of the victim as well as the age of the suspect, the maximum penalty ranges from 5 years in prison up to a life sentence. If convicted, you will also be required to register as a sexual offender for the rest of your life.

If the Lewd or Lascivious Molestation charge involved a victim under the age of 12, and the defendant was over the age of 18, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, if convicted as charged.

Lewd or Lascivious Battery (Statutory Rape)

Florida Statute 800.04(4), defines L & L Battery as “someone who engages in sexual activity with a person 12 years of age or older but less than 16 year of age; or encourages, forces, or entices any person less than 16 years of age to engage in any act involving sexual activity.”

Florida Statute 800.04(1) defines sexual activity as “the oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object.”

L & L Battery is more serious than Molestation because L & L Battery involves penetration of the victim, whereas Molestation involves fondling of the victim.

L & L Battery is what some people refer to as “Statutory Rape”.

What is the penalty for Statutory Rape in Okaloosa County?

Lewd or Lascivious Battery is a second degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, along with the requirement that you register as a sexual offender for the rest of your life.

Similar to Molestation charges, the prosecutor in Okaloosa County has the discretion to double the number of points for any adult on minor sexual crimes. Since Lewd or Lascivious Battery starts out as a 74 point offense, it can be doubled to 148 points. The prosecutor can also add an additional 40 points for sexual contact, or 80 points for sexual penetration.

With those enhancements, the mandatory minimum sentence if someone is convicted of Lewd or Lascivious Battery in Okaloosa County would be calculated as follows:

  • 148 points calculates out to a minimum sentence of 90 months in prison.
  • If 40 points for sexual contact are added, the sentence goes up to a minimum of 120 months.
  • If 80 points for sexual penetration are added, the sentence is a minimum of 150 months in prison.
  • Keep in mind that these sentencing guidelines ONLY apply if you are convicted.

Lewd or Lascivious Conduct

This is a charge that is widely used by the prosecutors because it allows them to prosecute someone for touching a child anywhere on their body as long as the child alleges that the touching was done in a lewd manner. The charge is defined under Florida Statute 800.04 as “intentional touching of a person less than 16 years old in a lewd or lascivious manner.”

Lewd or Lascivious Conduct carries a maximum penalty of between 5 year in prison if the defendant was under the age of 18, to 15 years in prison if the defendant was 18 or older.

Defending a Lewd or Lascivious Crime in Okaloosa County

We defend more of these cases than just about any firm in Okaloosa County. We do it because we believe that every person, no matter what they are accused of doing, deserves to have the best defense possible. Our clients deserve to be treated as human beings and they deserve to have someone on their side who will help them.

If you have any reason to believe that you are the target of a sexual abuse investigation, now is the time to start taking steps to fight back and protect yourself. It is possible to win these cases or lessen the penalty with the right defense strategy. Because of our extensive experience defending serious sexual allegations in Okaloosa County, we know what strategies work, and just as importantly, what doesn’t work. We know the prosecutors and how they build these cases. We know the judges and how they will conduct the court hearings and trials. This knowledge allows us to tailor a defense strategy that is customized to your case.

One piece of advice to keep in mind: If the police show up wanting to talk to you about a Lewd or Lascivious allegation, they already think you are guilty. Do not make their job easier for them. Tell them very clearly that you will not talk about the case without an Okaloosa county child molestation defense attorney present.

Call an Okaloosa County Lewd or Lascivious Sex Crime Defense Attorney

Now is not the time to take chances and settle for the cheapest attorney who promises to “get you off.” You may also want to think about whether you will have your best chance of success by settling on the court-appointed public defender who works for the state. You may want to ask yourself whether your best chance of a favorable outcome is hiring criminal defense attorneys who work for you and have your best interest at heart.

If you have been arrested, or you are being investigated, for a Lewd or Lascivious sex crime in Fort Walton Beach, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 for a free, confidential case review.

Tim Flaherty
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney