Can I Be Charged With Rape Involving a Minor If I Didn’t Know Their Age?

If you have been charged with statutory rape by an individual who you weren’t aware was a minor, you are likely feeling confused and scared. Sex crimes involving minors are taken very seriously in the Florida courts. With the protection and counsel of the Tampa sexual assault defense attorneys at The Rickman Law Firm, you will have a better chance of getting the justice you deserve.

Being accused of rape involving a minor is a serious allegation that can have severe consequences. If you find yourself in this difficult situation, it’s important to understand the legal implications and potential defense strategies available to you.

Understanding Consent and the Age of Consent in Florida

When it comes to sexual activity involving minors, there is a difference in the capability of the minor having the ability to give consent. Consent refers to an individual’s voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. However, in the case of minors, the law recognizes their limited ability to provide legal consent.

In Florida, the age of consent is 18 years old. This means that any sexual activity with a person under the age of 18 is generally considered non-consensual, regardless of the minor’s actual willingness or ability to provide consent.

Florida Statutes and Penalties

The penalties for rape and sexual battery involving minors can be severe. In Florida, these crimes are classified as felonies, and the severity of the offense determines the potential penalties. The applicable statutes and penalties for rape and sexual battery include:

Rape of a Minor Under the Age of 12

Under Florida law, rape refers to the act of engaging in sexual intercourse with another person without their consent. In the case of a minor, as mentioned earlier, the ability to legally provide consent is generally absent.

This charge, which is raised to a statutory rape charge when a minor is involved, falls under Florida Statute 794.011(2) and is considered a life felony, punishable by life imprisonment and mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring upon release, if applicable.

Sexual Battery on a Minor Between the Ages of 12 and 17

Sexual battery encompasses a broader range of sexual offenses, including non-consensual sexual acts, such as oral or anal intercourse, penetration with an object, or digital penetration. Sexual battery charges can also be elevated if there is a degree of aggression determined by the court.

This offense is addressed by Florida Statute 794.011(8) and is generally a second-degree felony. It carries a potential penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Lewd or Lascivious Molestation

Section 800.04(5)(a) of the Florida Statutes outlines the offense of lewd or lascivious molestation, which involves a person who intentionally touches in a lewd or lascivious manner the breasts, genitals, genital area, or buttocks, or the clothing covering them, of a person less than 16 years of age, or forces or entices a person under 16 years of age to touch the perpetrator, commits lewd or lascivious molestation.

An offender 18 years of age or older who commits lewd or lascivious molestation against a victim less than 12 years of age commits a life felony, as punishable by a life sentence.

An offender 18 years of age or older who commits lewd or lascivious molestation against a victim 12 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age commits a felony of the second degree, which potentially involves a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The Role of The Rickman Law Firm in Building a Strong Defense For You

Facing charges of rape involving a minor is an overwhelming experience that requires the expertise of a seasoned Tampa rape defense attorney with The Rickman Law Firm. We have a proven track record in defending clients accused of sex crimes, and our legal team understands the intricacies of Florida law, specifically related to rape and sexual battery involving minors.

Our attorneys will thoroughly examine your case to identify potential defense strategies. We will explore all aspects of the situation, including the circumstances surrounding the alleged crime, the evidence, and the specific charges filed against you. With our in-depth knowledge and experience, we will build a robust defense tailored to your unique circumstances.

Potential Arguments Used by Our Attorneys

At The Rickman Law Firm, we utilize various defense strategies to protect the rights and interests of our clients. While every case is unique, some common arguments that our attorneys may employ in cases where the defendant did not know the minor’s age include:

Lack of Knowledge

If you genuinely had no knowledge or reasonable way of knowing that the alleged victim was a minor, this can be a viable defense strategy. Our attorneys will thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident to determine if there were any indicators or misrepresentations that could have reasonably led you to believe the alleged victim was of legal age.

Age Misrepresentation

In some cases, the alleged victim may have lied about their age or presented themselves in a way that suggested they were of legal age. If your Tampa sexual assault defense attorney with The Rickman Law Firm can establish that you reasonably relied on the minor’s misrepresentation, this can be a turning-point argument to challenge the charges.

Lack of Evidence 

The burden of proof lies with the prosecution, and they must establish your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We will meticulously review the evidence against you, searching for weaknesses, inconsistencies, or gaps in the prosecution’s case. We will work tirelessly to challenge the credibility and reliability of the evidence presented against you.

Protect Yourself With The Best Legal Defense Attorney

Facing charges of rape involving a minor is incredibly distressing and complex. It is essential to seek legal representation from a knowledgeable and experienced Tampa rape defense attorney with The Rickman Law Firm. 

To contact one of our attorneys today, fill out our consultation form or call us any time at 813-999-0502.

 

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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