If you have been charged with a sexual crime, you may wonder, Is sexual assault a felony in Florida? Sexual assault, also known as sexual battery in Florida, is a very serious criminal offense. Sexual battery is also synonymous with rape. The severity of the penalties for sexual assault varies depending on the alleged victim’s age and the circumstances of the assault. All of Florida’s sexual assault penalties are felonies.
Facing sexual assault charges can be utterly frightening. A tough, dependable, and aggressive Florida criminal defense lawyer by your side fighting for your freedom can give you the edge you need. With nearly 40 years of combined experience as prosecutors and defense lawyers, the criminal defense attorneys with Moses & Rooth have the skill and experience you can rely on to help you through this difficult time. Contact us today.
Florida Sexual Battery Laws
Sexual battery in Florida has a specific meaning. Under Florida Statutes 794.011, sexual battery means oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the vaginal or anal penetration by any other object. The law does not include the element of physical force. The only force required under the Florida sexual battery law is the amount of force required to complete the act of penetration or union. However, medical examinations are exempt from this definition.
The term consent has a specific meaning as well. Consent under this statute means intelligent, knowing, and voluntary consent. Submission by coercion is not lawful consent. Additionally, the law says that the failure of the victim to physically resist does not mean the victim consented.
Some sexual assault charges in Florida require the prosecution to prove the victim’s age to convict the accused. The law holds the accused liable for any criminal act, regardless of any claims of ignorance or mistake regarding their knowledge of the victim’s age. The accused does not have a valid defense even if the victim misrepresented their age or the accused held a genuine belief that the victim was old enough to consent.
There may be other defenses available to you. Having a knowledgeable sexual battery defense lawyer from Moses & Rooth review your case can give you the best opportunity to avoid harsh penalties under Florida’s sexual battery laws.
What Are the Penalties for Sexual Assault in Florida?
All sexual battery crimes in Florida are felonies. However, the degree of felony depends on factors like the victim’s:
- Mental state;
- Physical frailty;
- Belief that the accused would inflict injury to the victim’s sex organs;
- Involuntary intoxication due to the accused administering an intoxicating substance that renders the victim physically or mentally incapacitated;
- Submission due to the threat of force or violence that could cause serious bodily injury or death; and
- Belief the accused would retaliate if they did not comply.
The age of the accused is another relevant factor under Florida’s sexual battery law. Proof of some crimes depends on whether the accused was 18 at the time of the offense. A person holding governmental authority could face significant penalties. This includes law enforcement officers, corrections officers, and parole officers, among others.
Sexual Battery Penalties
The penalties for sexual battery offenses range from second-degree felonies to capital crimes that could involve the death penalty. For instance, the penalty for a person 18 or older committing a sexual battery on a person 18 years or older is a second-degree felony. The punishment for a second-degree felony is a term of incarceration not to exceed 15 years. There is no minimum prison sentence, so a person convicted of this crime could possibly receive probation.
A conviction for a first-degree felony carries a punishment of incarceration for any term of years up to life in prison. However, certain offenders ask a court to review the sentence in limited circumstances.
A person who commits a sexual battery when they are under 18—but who injures the sex organs of a victim under 12—faces a life felony. A person 18 or older who injures the sex organs of a child under 12 years of age commits a capital offense. A capital offense carries the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Under Florida’s sexual battery law, a person sentenced to prison is not eligible for basic gain-time if the conviction was entered after October 1, 1992. This provision is widely known as the “Junny Rios-Martinez, Jr. Act of 1992.”
Start Building Your Defense Today
You might have several options for your defense under Florida law. However, the more time you wait to speak with a qualified attorney, the harder it will be to build a winning defense. At Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law, we get to work right away on creating a successful defense strategy for you. As former prosecutors, we learned how the court system in Florida works. We also know how prosecutors think. Our experience keeps us one step ahead of the lawyers prosecuting your case. Our focus and determination helped us create a documented track record of success. Don’t wait. Call today for a free case review or contact us online.