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Statutory Rape: When Consensual Sex Becomes Illegal in Destin

When people think of the word “rape,” they assume it only applies to situations in which an individual is forced into a sexual act against his or her will. However, the state of Florida also criminalizes other sexual acts that do not involve a lack of consent. Did you know that you can be arrested and convicted of rape for having consensual intercourse with someone you with whom are in a loving, committed relationship?

Statutory Rape

Statutory rape is not rape in the typical sense. It involves consensual sex between two voluntary and willing individuals. However, one of the individuals in the relationship is a minor under the age of 18. The Florida legislature labeled consensual intercourse between an adult and a minor as rape because it has dictated that individuals under a certain age (18) are legally unable to consent to sex.

Teenagers, especially in this day and age with unlimited access to the Internet, mature at young ages and pursue adult experiences like drinking, smoking, drugs, and sex. Even though they intentionally seek these activities out, the law has determined that they are not mentally developed enough to make fully reasoned decisions regarding these endeavors. Science shows that the brain does not fully mature until the late teen years. As such, individuals under the age of 18 are considered to be minors.

The Florida legislature recognized that teens were having sex, including with other teens or individuals slightly older than them. As such, consensual sex between two teenagers is usually not criminalized. However, it becomes criminalized as the age difference grows.

If you are under the age of 24, you are legally able to have consensual intercourse with a partner aged 16 or older.

However, if you are aged 24 or older and have sex with someone who is under the age of 18, even if the sex is consensual, you have committed statutory rape.

In addition, if you are under the age of 24 but have consensual sex with someone who is younger than 16, you have also committed statutory rape.

Statutory rape is differentiated from sexual battery because it involves consent. Any non-consensual intercourse with a minor complainant is sexual battery, not statutory rape.

Defenses

Statutory rape is notoriously difficult to defend against. Many accused individuals had no idea how old the complainant was or believed that the complainant was older. In addition, many complainants outright lie about their ages. Logically speaking, an accused individual should be able to raise a mistake of fact defense at trial, arguing that he or she was unaware of the complainant’s status as a minor. However, Florida Statute 800.04 does not permit a defendant to raise this as a defense.

Other available defenses include:

Penalties for Statutory Rape

If you are convicted of statutory rape, you face up to 15 years in Florida state prison. This penalty can be increased if other aggravating factors exist. For example, if you have prior statutory rape convictions, you face up to 30 years of incarceration.

In addition, you will have difficulty finding employment, maintaining parenting rights, obtaining housing, seeking government benefits, and protecting your reputation.

Destin Criminal Defense Attorney Specializing In Felony Sex Offenses

If you were arrested for statutory rape, you may feel helpless in defending against the charges. However, Stephen G. Cobb, a Destin Board Certified Specialist in Florida Criminal Law, can guide you through the process, explain your options, and work with you to craft a defense strategy. To schedule a consultation with our Destin criminal defense law firm, call us today at (850) 466-1522.

Cobb Law Firm
5 Clifford Dr
Shalimar, FL 32579
(850) 466-1522

References:

http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/statutory-rape-the-age-of-consent.html

http://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/resources/florida-statutory-rape-laws.htm