Knowing what is considered statutory rape is paramount if you are facing criminal charges in the state of Florida. As statutory rape charges can result in felony charges, and a conviction can land you in prison for many years, you need the best possible statutory rape lawyer fighting for you in court.
Attorney Matt Shafran at Weinstein Legal is the statutory rape defense lawyer you need on your side. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Shafran has seen these charges time and time again and knows what strategies will be used in court in an attempt to prove your guilt. Mr. Shafran will use all of his knowledge and legal skill to form an aggressive defense to help you avoid the severe consequences a judge can impose.
What Is Considered Statutory Rape?
If you find yourself facing charges, you must hire a statutory rape defense lawyer immediately. One who is well-versed in the law, as there are stipulations that outline what may and may not be prosecuted as statutory rape.
Age of Consent
According to Florida law, a minor under the age of 16 years old is considered unable to provide consent for sexual activity of any kind. If the minor is 16 or older, they can legally consent to have sexual relations with an individual under the age of 24. In Florida, this is known as the Romeo and Juliet law.
However, do not assume that the Romeo and Juliet law will automatically get your charges dismissed. Do not assume that you do not need a lawyer. Often, accusing parties will go to great lengths to see you prosecuted. Hire a statutory rape lawyer as soon as possible, as they will know how to prove that the Romeo and Juliet law applies to your situation in court.
If the defendant is older than 24 years old and engaging in sex with a minor it is considered statutory rape. Additionally, if a defendant is 18 and participating in a sexual relationship with an individual under the age of 16, it is also deemed to be statutory rape. The Romeo and Juliet law does not apply to either of these scenarios.
Penalties for Statutory Rape in Florida
The penalties for a statutory rape conviction in Florida are steep, making it essential that you hire a statutory rape lawyer to represent you and form the best possible defense. If the Romeo and Juliet law does not apply to you, you may be convicted on felony charges and face up to 15 years in prison in addition to paying thousands of dollars in fines. You may have to register as a sex offender.
These consequences can follow you for the rest of your life. Many employers do not hire individuals with felony convictions, and sexual crimes are considered especially serious. Landlords may deny your application for residence, and if you must register as a sex offender, you will not be able to live within a certain distance of schools. If you have children, you will likely lose custody, and your reputation will be permanently damaged.
If this is not your first statutory rape offense, you can face up to 40 years in prison. Do not take the chance of facing prosecutors alone. Do not answer any questions from law enforcement, investigators, or a prosecutor without a statutory rape lawyer present.
Who Can Press Charges for Statutory Rape?
Several parties may press charges for what is considered statutory rape in the state of Florida. Even if a minor consents to sexual relations and they are considered illegal, another individual or entity may press charges on behalf of the minor.
Parents of a minor have the right to press charges for statutory rape if they become aware that their child has a sexual relationship with an adult (a person who is over the age of 18). These charges are considered criminal, meaning that you may face trial before a judge and jury. Parents can press charges against their child's wishes, making these cases particularly tense.
However, parents may not be aware of the nuances of Florida state law, which outlines that teens 16 and older are legally permitted to have a relationship with a person under the age of 24. If this is the case and you are facing charges, contact a statutory rape lawyer as soon as possible. Your charges will likely be dropped.
The State of Florida
You may face statutory rape charges even if a minor's parents have not contacted law enforcement. In this case, it is the state filing criminal charges against you. The state does not need permission or consent from either the minor or their parents to bring you to court.
Situations where this may happen include a school guidance counselor, teacher, or a social worker alerting authorities after learning of a sexual relationship between the two parties. Individuals working in such professions are legally obligated to report statutory rape. If law enforcement finds you engaging in a sexual act with a minor, you may be arrested on the spot.
Contact a lawyer immediately to begin forming a statutory rape defense.
What If Your Partner Consented to Sexual Relations?
Many individuals find themselves surprised when facing statutory rape charges when their partner willingly consented and they were involved in a romantic relationship. In Florida, unless the Romeo and Juliet law applies, consent of the minor does not matter.
If the minor is under the age of 16, you will face criminal charges regardless of consent. Legally, an individual under the age of 16 is considered unable to provide consent. If you over the age of 24, a 17-year-old is also regarded as unable to provide consent.
You may assume that you are safe from criminal charges if you are in a relationship with a minor. However, this is not the case. You will need a strong statutory rape defense to fight for you in court.
Hiring a Statutory Rape Lawyer
Due to the severity of consequences that come with a conviction, you must hire a statutory rape defense lawyer immediately. Do not assume that because of the Romeo and Juliet law that your charges will be dismissed. You need aggressive legal representation to fight for your rights.
You have too much at stake to face a statutory rape charge in court alone. Your freedom, your chances of employment, your place of living, and so much more. If you are facing charges, contact attorney Matt Shafran at Weinstein Legal today for criminal defense for statutory rape charges.