Child Sex Crimes
Few crimes will be as damaging to a person’s reputation, freedom and future as that of a sex offense involving a child.
Heavily laden with emotion, these are often high-profile cases and both police and prosecutors pursue them aggressively. Unfortunately, the constitutional right to a presumption of innocence is often discarded, and the accused is presumed guilty even before trial.
At The Ansara Law Firm, our team of accomplished criminal defense lawyers is not afraid to aggressively fight such accusations. We recognize not only are our clients facing extensive prison sentences and civil sanctions, but also the lifelong branding and social stigma such allegations carry.
What’s important to understand is that children are generally eager to please and extremely susceptible to suggestion. They may be persuaded something awful occurred when in fact it did not. All it takes is one person to misinterpret an adult-child relationship, and a seed of perceived misconduct is planted in the child’s head. We see it most often play out in:
- Child custody cases
- Babysitting scenarios
- Daycare situations
- Teacher-student or Coach-athlete relationships
- Familial relationships
- Among friends and neighbors
Some situations do involve individuals who are complete strangers to the child, but those are the exception. There are also cases where children may have been abused, but fails to correctly identify the offender.
Certainly, as a society we have a duty to protect children from harm. But unfortunately, we now have a culture that emphasizes blind belief in such accusations. This is a grave injustice to everyone.
Even in cases where there may have been actual wrongdoing, the prosecution and penalties tend to be driven by emotion rather than fact and law. Our goal is to ensure our clients’ rights and interests are protected at each stage of this difficult process.
All sex crime offenses are serious. But sexual abuse or molestation of a child or juvenile results in drastically enhanced penalties that are often inherently unfair.What Are Child Sex Crimes?
There are a number of statutes under which an individual could be charged with a child sex crime. It will depend on the exact nature of the alleged offense.
Some examples are:
- Sexual battery: F.S. 794.011. This is the oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by or union with the sexual organ of another or an object. When a person over 18 commits sexual battery on a person under the age of 12, it is considered a capital felony. A person who commits sexual battery on a person over 12 using a weapon or the threat of one commits a life felony. A person who commits sexual battery on a person older than 12 but younger than 18 commits a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
- Lewd or lascivious offenses committed on someone younger than 16: F.S. 800.04. This involves not only sexual battery, but also the intentional touching in a lewd or lascivious touching of a child – under or over clothing. In cases involving children under 12 and offenders over 18, it’s a life felony. In cases where the child was over 12, it’s a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
- Child pornography: F.S. 847.0137. This involves sending, receiving or possessing images or videos of minors (under 18) engaged in sexual conduct via electronic device. It’s a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. However, where multiple images are involved (as is often the case), separate charges may be filed, leading to much longer sentences.
These are just a few examples of the potential crimes that may be charged.Statute of Limitations on Child Rape Cases
Legislative changes in 2015 doubled the time that rape victims have to report such assaults from four years to eight.
However, where the victims are children under the age of 16, there is no statute of limitations. That means accusations stemming from decades-old events could be dredged up and dragged into court. This could be problematic for both prosecutors and defendants for a number of reasons. DNA samples may be compromised. Memories fade and witnesses die. Digital archives may be deleted. Exculpatory evidence that may have proven beneficial to defendant may be forever lost.
It will be up to your defense lawyer to raise doubt wherever possible. One can’t assume that simply because the case is old it won’t be prosecuted aggressively. You must avoid speaking to law enforcement before consulting with an attorney who can prepare an adequate defense.
Contact the experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (877)-ARREST-0 (277-3780).