In Clearwater and the state of Florida, in general, Statutes Chapter 800 refers to the crime of lewd and lascivious conduct. According to Florida’s criminal jury instruction 11.8, “lewd” refers to wicked, lustful or sensual intent. Lewd conduct is considered a sex crime. It’s important to understand what is considered lewd and lascivious conduct and how you can be charged and convicted of this crime in Clearwater, Florida.
What is Lewd and Lascivious Conduct?
Lewd conduct is a crime that is generally defined by two distinct things. One is that the individual has intentionally touched a person younger than the age of 16 in a vulgar manner. The other component of lewd and lascivious conduct involves soliciting a person who is 16 years old or younger to commit a sexual act.
This particular crime can also involve a person exposing their genitals in public in an indecent manner. No matter what the specifics of the case, a person who is arrested and charged with lewd conduct in Clearwater, Florida and elsewhere should get in touch with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Lewd Conduct is Considered a Strict Liability Crime
It’s important to note that lewd and lascivious conduct is considered a strict liability crime. This means that there are certain common defenses that cannot be raised in a case. Those commonly used defenses include the following:
• The defendant did not know the child’s actual age, so as a result, the sexual conduct with the child was not intentional.
• The child consented to the sexual conduct, which attempts to place the responsibility to decline such advances on the child.
Possible Defenses to Lewd and Lascivious Conduct
While there are some defenses that are commonly used but not valid in Clearwater and the rest of Florida, there are others that can be used. Defenses that can be used to counter the charge of lewd conduct include the following:
• The criminal act itself did not occur and the alleged victim is making false statements against the defendant. The defense attorney can argue that the “victim” is making false allegations against the defendant because they are angry at them and want them to suffer.
• The defendant and the victim are involved in a child custody battle and the victim has made false allegations against the defendant to prevent them from getting custody or visitation of the child.
• The defendant has a new love interest and the victim has made false allegations against them out of jealousy, spite or revenge.
• The defendant suffers from a mental illness and is not responsible for their actions as a result.
Penalties for Lewd and Lascivious Conduct
There are a number of possible penalties a person can receive if they are convicted of the crime of lewd and lascivious conduct. The exact penalty someone receives depends on a number of factors, including the age of the defendant. If the person is 18 or older and is convicted, the charge is considered a felony in the second degree in Clearwater and Florida, in general. As a result, the individual could receive a prison sentence of up to 15 years, probation for 15 years and a fine of a maximum of $10,000. A person who is convicted of the crime would also be required to register as a sex offender.
If the defendant was under 18 during the commission of the crime, they would receive five years of probation and a maximum fine of $5,000. In addition, they would also be required to register as a sex offender.
The state of Florida hands down mandatory minimum sentences as well. If a person is under 18 years old, the minimum mandatory sentence is 24.5 months, but the court can make that longer in certain circumstances.
Lewd conduct is a serious charge in Florida. If you are arrested on such charges, contact William Hanlon Criminal Lawyer in Clearwater FL, immediately. It is your best chance at getting the charges reduced or even dropped.