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It’s an age-old question that comes around every few years: If two lovestruck teens engage in sexual activity, is it statutory rape? What about if one party is just a few years older than the other and over the course of dating, one party is over 18 while the other is under 18?
A federal defense lawyer in Tampa with our team at The Rickman Law Firm shares in this brief article the answers to the questions posed above and has advice on what to do if you’re arrested, accused, or charged with statutory rape.
Before we can answer the question of whether or not statutory rape was committed, we must first take a look at the legal definiion of statutory rape. Florida Statute Chapter 794 defines statutory rape as:
“Unlawful sexual activity with certain minors.—
(1) A person 24 years of age or older who engages in sexual activity with a person 16 or 17 years of age commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. As used in this section, “sexual activity” means oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object; however, sexual activity does not include an act done for a bona fide medical purpose.
(2) The provisions of this section do not apply to a person 16 or 17 years of age who has had the disabilities of nonage removed under chapter 743.
(3) The victim’s prior sexual conduct is not a relevant issue in a prosecution under this section.
(4) If an offense under this section directly results in the victim giving birth to a child, paternity of that child shall be established as described in chapter 742. If it is determined that the offender is the father of the child, the offender must pay child support pursuant to the child support guidelines described in chapter 61.”
You’ll notice, the definition of statutory rape isn’t necessarily prohibiting any two people under 18 to engage in sexual activity. It is often, incorrectly, thought that any act with anyone under 18 is statutory rape, but there are certain allowances if the parties are both minors, or if they’re close in age.
In Florida, the age of consent for any sex act is 18, which means that technically, two minors can’t legally consent to sex with each other. But, because of so-called “Romeo and Juliet” laws, two minors can engage in sexual acts without the requirement of registry as a sex offender or sexual predator, primarily when the victim and perpetrator are close in age.
If you’ve been accused of statutory rape, regardless of your age, you may be facing both state and federal charges. It’s important to contact an attorney who specializes in cases like yours in order to protect yourself and your future.
If you’re being accused of a sex crime of any type, you need the best federal criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, with The Rickman Law Firm. Call us today.
For a free consultation with a federal defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.
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.