There are few crimes with more of a negative social stigma than a sex-related offense. Most people in the community will think you are guilty before you've even had your day in court. Your career, reputation, and your family's well-being can be destroyed by the accusation alone—and that is only the beginning. If you are convicted of a sex crime in Florida, you will almost certainly go to prison for many years and be permanently designated as a sex offender.
My name is Tim Flaherty. Since 2001, I have been defending clients charged with sex crimes in Fort Walton Beach and the surrounding areas. My partner Brandy Merrifield has worked with me since 2007. Brandy and I are knowledgeable sex crime defense lawyers who have the expertise, trial experience, and reputation to give you the best possible chance of successfully resolving your case.
Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent and Have an Attorney Present
If the police want to talk to you about a sex crime allegation, our advice is to tell them that you will NOT talk to them without your attorney present. The police officers who are investigating you for a sex crime have already talked to the alleged victim, and they already believe him or her. That means they already believe you are guilty and are ready to charge you.
The biggest mistake you could make would be talking to the police without having an attorney present. Tell the police you aren't saying a word without your attorney, then pick up the phone and call Flaherty & Merrifield at 850-374-6273. We will call the officer and tell him that you are not available to make any statements. That should get them to leave you alone.
We 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 will decide together whether it makes sense to give a statement to the police. If we decide to do so, it will be on our terms, not theirs.
Our Sex Crimes Defense Practice Areas
The following is a list of the sexually related charges we defend:
- Sexual Battery/Rape
- Lewd or Lascivious Behavior
- Soliciting a Child for Sex Using a Computer
- Traveling to Meet a Minor for Sexual Activity
- Unlawful Sexual Activity With Certain Minors
- Exposure of Sexual Organs, Indecent Exposure
- Video Voyeurism
Florida Sex Crimes Carry Harsh Criminal Penalties
All sex crime allegations in Florida are felony offenses punishable by many years in prison if you are convicted. There are also sentencing enhancements that apply that, depending on the facts in your case, dramatically increase the sentencing exposure.
In order to calculate someone's possible prison sentence, Florida uses the Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet. This scoresheet is used to assign a point value to every possible criminal charge. Those points, along with points for sentencing enhancements or prior record, are fed into an equation. That equation results in a number that is the minimum number of months you must serve in prison if convicted.
The equation is the number of points minus 28 and then multiplied by 0.75. We've dedicated an entire page of our website to explaining this complex formula. Here are a few examples.
Sexual Battery With No Force
Sexual battery is a Level 8 offense that scores 74 points and has a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. There are also additional points added for sexual contact (40 points) or sexual penetration (80 points). Determining whether there is a minimum prison sentence is calculated as follows:
- Sexual contact points added: 74 points + 40 contact points = 114 points. 114 – 28 = 86. 86 x 0.75 = 64.5 months in prison
- Sexual penetration points added: 74 points + 80 penetration points = 154. 154 – 28 = 126. 126 x 0.75 = 94.5 months in prison
Lewd or Lascivious Molestation
Lewd and lascivious molestation is a Level 7 offense, which scores 56 points. An additional 40 points can be added for sexual contact.
- 56 points + 40 contact points = 96. 96 – 28 = 68. 68 x 0.75 = 51 months in prison
Potential Sex Crime Penalties by Charge
A table outlining various Florida sex crimes and their penalties:
|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|
Defending Clients Against Damaging Sex Crimes Accusations and Charges
Even though you're scared and stressed out, remember that you are still entitled to a defense and to have your day in court. Nothing is over yet. Don't give up hope.
Start taking steps now, before it is too late, to protect yourself. The first and most important thing you should consider doing is hiring the best criminal defense lawyer you can find. Your decisions on this issue could make all the difference in whether you go to prison or you go free.
We believe that we are the right team to defend a sex crime accusation in the Fort Walton Beach area, but we don't expect you to just take our word for it. Take a look at our testimonials and client reviews on Google. You will see that we know what we are doing. You will also see that our team knows how to treat people with compassion as they go through this distressing ordeal.
Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Your Case With Our Knowledgeable Legal Team
If you want to see for yourself whether we are the right team to defend you, give us a call. We offer a free consultation to talk about your case. We will make sure you get all of your questions answered, and we will give you some peace of mind. Don't wait! Call Flaherty & Merrifield today at 850-374-6273 or complete the contact form on this page to get started.