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In response to highly publicized cases of inappropriate relationships between students and teachers, Florida enacted a strict provision that prohibits an authority figure from engaging in any kind of romantic relationship with a student. A violation of this this law is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and the possibility of being labeled as convicted felon for life. The statute is broad, and may include seemingly innocent behavior, so it is essential for anyone who thinks they may be under investigation to consult with a lawyer. Law enforcement may try to elicit statements from an unknowing suspect, and these statements could be essential to the state’s case. Never speak to law enforcement or anyone else about a situation involving a student without the presence of a lawyer. Benjamin Herbst is a skilled and experienced South Florida criminal defense lawyer who specializes in representing teachers, coaches and other authority figures accused of misconduct with a student. He has successfully defended clients in all types of sex offenses including sexual battery and lewdness in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County. He is available 7 days a week at (954) 543-0305 and is willing to meet at any location if traveling to his Fort Lauderdale or West Palm locations is not convenient. Benjamin also represents teachers or other school employees in Martin County and St. Lucie County, and is standing by to offer a free consultation.
Under the Florida teacher student lewdness law, an authority figure is defined as any person 18 years of age or older who is employed, volunteering or under contract at a public or private school. This includes teachers, administrators, coaches, school resources officers and virtually any other adult that works at a school. There is no limitation on how many hours a person must work in order to be considered an authority figure, which means the law is extremely broad and can affect individuals who do not view themselves as school employees. A school is defined as any organization of students for instructional purposes, and includes public and private pre-schools, and elementary, middle and high schools. It does not include colleges or other institutions designed to educate adults. Under the law a student is defined as any person enrolled at a school. The law prohibits an authority figure from soliciting or engaging in sexual contact, lewd conduct or a romantic relationship with a student.
There are two key concepts to understand that make the law especially harsh. The first is that a relationship does not actually have to exist, and the second is the relationship does not actually have to reach the point where the two parties are engaging in sexual activity. All the state needs to prove is that the authority figure attempted to form a prohibited relationship with the student. Playful communication and flirting may seem innocent, but could be all the police need to initiate felony criminal charges. The authority figure and the student do not actually have to engage in sex or sexual activity under the provision that includes relationships of a romantic nature. Romantic relationships could include anything from kissing to exchanging endearing text messages. An experienced criminal defense lawyer should be able to have charges based on mere flirting dismissed, but in most cases a great deal of harm is done as soon as an investigation is opened. Benjamin is a South Florida lawyer who specializes in defending teachers and school employees who have been accused of engaging in a sexual or romantic relationship with a student. He does whatever it takes to keep his clients out of jail and also to restore their name and reputation. Benjamin knows that false accusations are commonly made against school authority figures, and he will fight to make sure charges are never filed in these situations. If you have been charged or are being investigated for committing an offense against a student anywhere in the Tri-County area or along the Treasure Coast call Benjamin at (954) 543-0305 and start preparing your defense. The odds are stacked against any adult who is charged with a sexually related offense, especially if that adult has supervisory responsibility over students. Retaining the right criminal defense lawyer can even the odds, and give you the best chance at prevailing in court.