Definition of Lewd or Lascivious Conduct
According to Florida Statute § 800.04, a person commits lewd or lascivious conduct when they:
- solicit a person under 16 years old to commit a lewd or lascivious act, or
- touches a person under 16 years old intentionally and in a lewd or lascivious manner.
The words lewd and lascivious are synonymous and can mean lustful, wicked, or sensual. A person could be accused of committing lewd or lascivious conduct for a playful tap on the butt during a sports game or for touching a minor’s leg if it is believed it was done with sexual or lewd intent. If you are accused of this crime, you must investigate the allegations and the incident itself; a conviction under this statute has serious, life-changing consequences.
Potential Penalties for Lewd or Lascivious Conduct
The consequences of a conviction differ based on whether the alleged offender was a minor or an adult when the supposed act was committed. An adult can be charged with a second-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. If the alleged offender was under 18 years of age, they can be charged with a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 5 years of imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.
It is important to note that a minimum sentence may be imposed based on Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code (Florida Statute § 921.002). If convicted, offenders also face:
- Being placed on sex offender probation and declared a sexual offender. As a sex offender, they must adhere to Florida sexual offender registration laws as well as laws and restrictions imposed throughout the United States.
- Ineligibility for gain time. Gain time is the time that eligible offenders can be awarded to reduce their court-imposed sentence. However, a violation of Florida Statute § 800.04 makes you ineligible for gain time.
- Social consequences. A felony conviction stays on your record forever, which can impact your ability to get a loan, qualify for a job or rental opportunity, and college or professional license applications.
Sex Offender Probation Restrictions
If you are on probation for a lewd or lascivious conduct offense, there are additional terms and conditions concerning your probation. Under Florida Statute § 948.30, those additional conditions include:
- A mandatory curfew. The curfew is typically from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. However, the court may allow for a different 8-hour curfew period if it interferes with your job
- Living restrictions. In cases where the victim was under 18 years old, you can be prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of a school, park, playground, child care facility, or other location frequently occupied by children.
- Treatment program. You may be required to participate in and complete a sex offender treatment program with a qualified practitioner or at your own expense.
- No contact with the victim. Unless the victim and the court allow for it, you will not be allowed to contact the victim directly, indirectly, or via a third party.
- No contact with children. In cases where the victim was under 18 years old, you can be prohibited from having any contact with any child under 18 years of age unless the court approves supervised visits.
Romeo and Juliet Eligibility
Offenders who qualify for the Romeo and Juliet law exception can petition for exclusion from the sexual offender registration requirements. According to Florida Statute § 943.04354, the eligibility requirements are as follows.
- The conviction was for sexual battery or a lewd or lascivious offense.
- The crime involved a consensual sexual encounter with a minor who was 14 to 17 years old.
- The minor was no more than 4 years younger than the defendant at the time of the sexual encounter or act.
- Required registration as a sexual offender is solely because of a conviction related to the aforementioned offenses and no other offenses.
- The offender does not have other convictions for a lewd or lascivious offense, sexual battery, or lewd or lascivious exhibition using a computer.
Prohibited Defenses to Lewd or Lascivious Conduct
Certain defenses are prohibited from being raised. Under Florida Statute § 800.04, the following defenses are prohibited.
- The alleged victim’s lack of chastity. It is not an allowed defense to argue that the supposed victim was sexually active before the alleged incident.
- Consent. Even if the supposed victim consented to the act, you could still face conviction and cannot use their consent as justification or defense.
- Ignorance of the alleged victim’s real age. Even if the purported victim lied about their age or the alleged offender was unaware of their age, or the alleged offender believed the supposed victim was older than 16 years, ignorance of the child’s age is a prohibited defense and cannot be used to justify the crime at trial.
Consult with Our Defense Attorneys
At Hubbs Law Firm, we have handled thousands of cases successfully. Known for being honest, reliable, and detail-oriented, our attorneys can help you or your loved one fight to protect your rights and develop a strategy to mitigate or dismiss the charges. Possible defenses against these charges include but are not limited to:
- Lack of intent. Since intent is a key element of the crime, we can argue that there was no lewd or lascivious intent behind the alleged conduct.
- False allegations. Sometimes allegations are made because of an angry or mentally ill parent manipulating a child, the accuser’s own mental illness, or jealousy. We can investigate the accuser and their motives to discredit the accusation itself.
If you have been charged with a sex crime, our attorneys are here to help you develop a strong legal defense. To schedule a free consultation, call (305) 570-4802 or reach out online today.