Teachers exercise an important role in supervising and mentoring our children. It is a position of trust. And when that trust is violated, the legal consequences can be quite severe.
We have all heard sensationalized stories in the news about teachers having sex with their underage students. Sometimes people write this off as a “victimless” crime. After all, if the student consented, what’s the harm?
Florida law does not see it that way. The age of consent in Florida is 18. This is not a mere suggestion or guideline. Even if your teenager is “very mature for his or her age,” the law states that a person age 17 or younger cannot legally consent to participate in sexual activity.
Florida Sex Crimes Involving a Teacher
When a teacher has sexual intercourse (i.e. there is penetration) with a 16- or 17-year-old student, it is a felony. Specifically, if the teacher is at least 24 at the time, he or she faces up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Even sexual activity short of penetration is a crime. If a teacher fools around with a student over the age of 12 by engaging in “sexual touching,” that is considered “lewd and lascivious molestation.” This can be charged up to a first-degree felony–punishable by 25 years to life in prison–if the student is younger than 12.
Additionally, if a male teacher impregnates a female student as a result of sexual intercourse, he can be charged with “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.” This carries a potential prison sentence of 2 to 6 years.
Keep in mind, any type of sex crimes conviction requires the defendant to register as a “sex offender” even after completing any prison sentence. Again, the fact the student agreed to have sex with a teacher is not a defense or a mitigating factor. Any sexual intercourse between a person over the age of 24 and a person under the age of 18 is illegal.
Physical Abuse & Excessive Discipline
In addition to sex crimes, Florida teachers may also face criminal charges if they physically abuse a student. This often comes up in the cases involving student discipline. For instance, in 2013 a fired Jacksonville teacher faced criminal charges after “allegedly punching a female middle-schooler in the face.” The teacher apparently had been trying to remove the unruly student from gym when the alleged punching occurred.
And in 2014, a teacher in Coral Springs was charged with battery on a child after she allegedly made a 10-year-old student “clean a dirty urinal she thought the student had clogged.”
Are You a Florida Teacher Charged With a Serious Crime?
Especially in our social media-driven frenzy, there is often a rush to judgment against teachers accused of crimes against students. This is why if you are a Florida teacher charged, or even under investigation for, an illegal act involving a student, you need to speak with an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Call the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at 407-377-0150 to speak with a lawyer right away.