Miami Sex Crimes Attorneys
Miami law prohibits a variety of different sex crimes ranging from the solicitation of prostitution and possession of child pornography to sexual assault and rape. Defendants who are convicted of these crimes may face jail time and in some cases, mandatory inclusion on the state’s sex offender registry.
Solicitation of Prostitution
While most people know that being a sex worker is illegal in Miami, few realize that those who solicit sex workers can also be prosecuted in court. However, before a person can be convicted of this offense, prosecutors must be able to establish that the defendant induced, bribed, or solicited someone to engage in any of the following kinds of activities:
Defendants who are found to have engaged in one of these activities can be charged with soliciting prostitution, even when:
- Lewdness, which includes any indecent or obscene act
- Assignation, which occurs when someone makes an appointment with another person to engage in sex for hire.
For these reasons, law enforcement officers often use sting operations, in which a female police officer poses as a sex worker in order to detain individuals for solicitation. Resulting charges are often categorized as first degree misdemeanors, which are punishable by up to a year in prison. Subsequent violations, on the other hand, are punished more severely as second and third-degree felonies. Those who are convicted of soliciting a sex worker are also required to perform mandatory community service, attend an educational program about the effects of prostitution, pay a civil penalty of $5,000, and undergo STD testing.
- The person being solicited was not a sex worker
- The individual being solicited is not willing to commit to the sexual act
- The parties never exchanged money
Solicitation of a Minor
Unlike standard solicitation accusations, defendants who are accused of soliciting a minor are automatically charged with a second-degree felony. Using the internet to solicit a minor is also unlawful in Miami. In fact, under Florida Statute 847.0135 a person can be found guilty of soliciting a child over the internet even if the other party was not actually a child. Generally, soliciting a minor over the internet is charged as third-degree felony, which could mean up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Miami law also prohibits sexual battery, which is defined as the oral, vaginal, or anal penetration by the sexual organ of another or by any object. The severity of a sexual battery charge depends on a number of factors, including the ages of the victim and the accused. For example, a defendant who is over the age of 18 years old and is accused of committing a sexual battery against a child under the age of 12 years old can be charged with a capital felony, which is punishable by life in prison, while defendants who are over 18 years old, but whose victim was over the age of 12 years old will be charged with a first degree felony. During sentencing, judges will also take the following factors into consideration:
When some or all of these factors exist in a case, the defendant’s charges could be increased to 30 years in prison. If, on the other hand, the defendant did not use violence during the battery, the offense could be downgraded to a second-degree felony.
- Whether the victim was physically incapacitated
- Whether the offender coerced the victim by threat or force
- Whether the defendant administered a drug to the victim
- Whether the victim had a mental defect
- Whether the defendant was an elected official or a law enforcement officer
Formulating a Defense
Because sex offenses are considered so serious in Miami, creating a solid defense is critical in these types of cases. However, the type of defense formulated by a defendant will depend on a number of factors, including the specific crime involved. For example, those who are accused of soliciting prostitution or soliciting a minor are often arrested after being targeted during a sting operation. In these situations, the accused may be able to raise the defense of entrapment, which occurs when defendants are enticed by a police officer to commit a crime that they ordinarily would not have committed. Introducing evidence of investigative mistakes can also help establish that a defendant’s rights were undermined and can lead to the charges being dismissed or reduced.
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