Can Minors Legally Consent to Sex in Florida?
The age of consent is a critical legal matter when it comes to criminal defense in Florida. In legal terms, consent refers to an individual's voluntary and willful agreement to engage in sexual activity with another person. It requires both parties to willingly participate without any coercion or force. Minors, however, cannot legally consent to sexual relations.
In this blog, we'll review the legal age of consent in Florida and the potential penalties for age of consent violations in criminal courts.
What Is the Age of Consent in Florida?
In the United States, each state sets its own age of consent, which typically ranges from 16 to 18 years old. Violating age of consent laws can result in serious criminal charges, including statutory rape, sexual assault, and other sex crimes.
In the state of Florida, the age of consent for sexual activity is 18 years old. This means that anyone under the age of 18 is legally unable to give legally effective consent to sexual activity. This means that engaging in sexual activity with a minor, even if consensual, can lead to serious criminal charges.
Romeo & Juliet Laws in Florida
Romeo and Juliet laws refer to statutory exceptions to age of consent laws in certain situations. These laws provide a potential defense for minors who engage in consensual sexual activity with another minor within a certain age range. Typically, Romeo and Juliet laws provide an exception to age of consent laws when both parties are close in age and engage in consensual sexual activity.
While not every U.S. state honors Romeo and Juliet laws, Florida does have a Romeo and Juliet statute. Enacted in 2007, it provides a limited exemption from prosecution for minors who engage in sexual activity with another minor aged 16 or 17. However, if the age gap between the two minors exceeds four years, the older minor can still face criminal charges.
Sex Crimes & Age of Consent Violations in Florida
Violating Florida's age of consent laws can result in serious criminal penalties, including imprisonment, fines, and mandatory registration as a sex offender. It’s imperative to secure a strong defense from an experienced Florida defense attorney when facing sex crime accusations, as they can help fortify your case with relevant evidence and determine an effective legal strategy to employ on your behalf.
Some common criminal cases stemming from age of consent violations include:
- Statutory rape – Under Florida Statutes (FS) §794.05, statutory rape occurs when an adult engages in sexual activity with a minor below the age of consent, even if the minor willingly participates. The adult can be charged with statutory rape due to the inability of the minor to legally consent.
- Sexting –Cases involving adults sending sexually explicit messages, images, or videos to minors can lead to charges if the minor is below the age of consent. These cases generally fall under child pornography laws.
- Online solicitation of minors –Adults who engage in sexual conversations or attempt to meet with minors for sexual purposes online can face charges, even if the actual meeting does not occur. This is a form of online enticement of minors.
- Child molestation –Child molestation charges may be brought against individuals who engage in sexual contact or inappropriate behavior with minors, irrespective of the minor's consent.
- Child sexual abuse –Cases involving adults in positions of trust, such as teachers, coaches, or caregivers, who engage in sexual activity with minors may result in charges of child sexual abuse, as minors are unable to legally consent in these situations.
Aggressive Defense for the Accused in Miami
At Hubbs Law, P.A., our seasoned criminal defense lawyers have successfully represented defendants throughout Miami. From DUI defense to crimmigration offenses, our skilled Florida attorneys have the in-depth knowledge and diverse skills to advocate aggressively on your behalf while fighting to drop or reduce the charges against you. Reach out to our office to learn how we can fight to restore your freedom.
If you’re facing criminal charges in Florida, a strong defense is crucial to protect your freedom. Contact us online to discuss your case.