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Florida has one of the harshest statutory rape laws in the country, and many of the defendants charged with this offense had no knowledge they were committing a crime. Under Florida law the crime commonly known as statutory rape is defined as unlawful sexual activity with a minor. If the minor was 16 or 17 the crime is classified as a second-degree felony with the potential for a 15-year prison sentence, supervised sex offender probation and mandatory registry as a sexual offender. Anyone who has been charged or is being investigated for unlawful sexual activity with a minor in Florida should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately, as law enforcement often uncovers the most damaging evidence directly from the suspect. Never discuss the case with police, and do not discuss any events with the alleged victim on the phone or in person. Detectives are permitted to conduct controlled recorded phone calls with a suspect, and these calls can be used to charge and convict a defendant. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida criminal lawyer who specializes in defending charges of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. He has extensive experience representing clients accused of all types of sexual offenses in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties, and also takes on cases in Martin County and St. Lucie County. Benjamin is available 7 days a week to offer a free consultation about your case, and provides all clients with his cell phone for access on nights and weekends. If you feel you may be under investigation contact South Florida statutory rape lawyer Benjamin Herbst at (954) 543-0305 to start protecting your rights immediately.
Statutory rape basically means any nonforcible sexual activity with a person who is under the age of consent. Some states specifically allow a minor under the age of 18 to legally consent to sexual activity with an adult, but minor must be at least 16 or 17. For example, in Maryland the age of consent is 16. Florida one the other hand is not one of the states that allows a 16 or 17-year old minor to consent to sexual activity with an adult, unless the adult is under the age of 24. Therefore, an adult 24 years of age and older is not permitted to engage in consensual sexual activity with a anyone under the age of 18. Sexual activity does not necessarily mean sexual intercourse, as any type of penetration counts under this statute. The Florida statutory rape law is a strict liability law, which means there is no element of knowledge required. The state does not need to prove that the defendant knew or should have known the alleged victim was under the age of 18 in prosecutions for unlawful sexual activity with a minor. In fact, Florida law specifically states that ignorance of age and even misrepresentation of age by the victim is not a defense even if the defendant had a good faith belief the victim was an adult. This provision of the law is extremely harsh, and is the reason why these charges are so common. Benjamin understands that many defendants had no intention of engaging in any type of criminal or morally wrong act, yet sometimes face life altering charges. He is committed to doing everything possible for his statutory rape clients in order to achieve the best possible outcome. Avoiding jail is always a main concern, but Benjamin will not be satisfied with this alone. He fights to preserve his client’s records and their reputations so they can move on with their lives.
The best advice for anyone who thinks they may be accused of statutory rape is to contact a lawyer immediately and not talk about the case in any form or fashion. We have seen totally innocent defendants charged based on evidence that they apologized, when law enforcement could not say for certain what the apology was about. Do not communicate at all with a person you may feel will accuse you of a crime, and do not speak to their friends or family. Contact a South Florida lawyer who specializes in defending charges of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, and start protecting your future. Benjamin is available to meet at his Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach offices, or any convenient location from South Miami to Port St. Lucie. Call (954) 543-0305 to speak with Ben today.