The term “rape” generally implies the commission of a forceful act of non-consensual intercourse involving violence or the threat of physical harm to the victim. By contrast, a charge of statutory rape – sometimes also referred to as sexual assault on a minor – requires only a showing that sexual activity occurred between a person who was over the legal age of consent and one who, at the time, was not. Sexual activity is defined as “oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another.”

The age of consent varies by state. In Florida, there are actual several limits. First, anyone 18 or over (with some exceptions for mentally incapacitated persons over 18, as noted below) is presumed to be capable of consensual sex. By contrast, the law presumes that a male or female under the age of 16 is incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse under any circumstances. A 16 or 17 year old may consent, provided the adult is younger than 24. The defendant’s mistaken belief that his or her victim was over the age of consent is generally not a defense, even if the victim himself or herself misled the defendant, although such facts can be taken into consideration in sentencing.

Florida recognizes some exceptions to these general rules, primarily in the case of persons 18 or over who, due to a mental disability, have the faculties of a younger person.

An accusation of statutory rape – a felony under Florida law – is very serious. Sex crimes involving minors as victims are prosecuted very aggressively in Florida. A conviction for unlawful sexual activity with a minor can lead to some or all of the following life-altering consequences:

Incarceration for a term of between 7 1/2 and 15 years; a repeat offender faces up to 30 years; Difficulty finding or keeping a job; Required lifelong registration as a sex offender, even if the defendant received only probation or a suspended sentence; Statute of Limitations; Florida’s statute of limitations for statutory rape is three years. This means that charges must be filed within three years of the most recent instance of intercourse.

The Importance of Experienced Legal Representation

A statutory rape conviction can have lifelong negative consequences.  A successful defense requires the assistance of legal counsel with experience and devotion to your case.  The dedicated legal team at Orner Law, LLC will fight for you every step of the way. With offices in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, Orner Law, LLC represents defendants in serious criminal matters throughout South Florida. Contact our offices today to schedule a free consultation.