Much of our world has changed this year since quarantines resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic went into effect this spring. Just as our way of life has been greatly altered this year, so too has the pattern of criminal behavior. Among the crimes that have increased over the past year are crimes of a sexual nature.
A sexual crime that has become much more common during the coronavirus pandemic is the crime of online child sexual abuse. Data shows that livestreaming sexual abuse has skyrocketed, often emanating from the Philippines, Thailand, or Cambodia. Many western countries, including the United States, are among the most prolific consumers of online sexual abuse, and investigators say the platforms used by those engaging in online sexual abuse are usually the same platforms that are now popular with other online meetings. As this type of crime involves the Internet, it is almost always prosecuted under Federal statutes.
Another sexual crime on the rise during the coronavirus quarantine is that of sexual extortion. Perpetrators of this crime gain the trust of their victims, who are most often female, and begin asking them for intimate photos of themselves. With such photos in hand, the perpetrator then threatens to release the pictures publicly or to send them to a specific person if the victim does not give them cash. Per investigators, most perpetrators of sexual extortion commit the act for pecuniary reasons, and most also have a history of such crimes. Sexual extortion is a Federal crime when it is done online, but investigators say that using social media makes prosecuting those crimes significantly more difficult.
Florida has several statutes under which it prosecutes sexual crimes. If a person is younger than the age of consent in Florida (which is seventeen) and the other person is older than the age of 24, sexual contact between them is illegal. Ignorance of the victim’s age is not a permitted defense to the crime, and penalties upon conviction can be as much as ten years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Sexual battery and rape are prosecuted in Florida, and they are frequently prosecuted together against defendants in the commission of the same act. The use of force or coercion to obtain sex from another person, conducting sexual acts without the consent of the victim, or committing sexual acts on an incapacitated person are covered by Florida statutes on sexual battery and rape, and a conviction on such charges often leads to the defendant being required to register as a sexual predator for the rest of his or her life.
Committing a sexual act with an individual aged 16 or younger is considered lewd conduct or lascivious behavior in Florida. The same prohibition against pleading ignorance of the victim’s age is in place for lewd conduct and lascivious behavior, and penalties for a conviction on these charges also include many years in prison and several thousands of dollars in fines.
As the penalties for convictions on sexual crimes are severe and the repercussions are lifelong, having a skilled litigator on your side is of the utmost importance. Contact our offices today if you are facing sexual crimes charges.