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Sex Offenses – An Overview

by | Sep 29, 2022 | Criminal Law

Sex offenses come in a variety of flavors and carry many different penalties. Both Florida and federal laws have several sex offenses on the books that take into account a variety of factors. Following is a discussion of sex offenses in Florida and what the various state and federal laws say about sex offenses.

State Laws

Sex offenses are typically punished at the state level, and most states divide sex offenses up into five broad categories

Sex crimes against other adults, sex crimes against children, sex crimes against nature, sex crimes against relatives, and sex crimes for sale.

Sex crimes against other adults are typically the most prosecuted and include crimes like rape, sexual assault, and marital rape

Sex crimes against children include abduction, exploitation, molestation, and child pornography.

Sex crimes against nature include bestiality, indecent exposure, and sodomy.

Sex crimes against relatives are typically limited to crimes involving incest.

Sex crimes for sale are usually crimes related to prostitution.

Federal Laws

On the federal level, most sex crimes are found in Title 18 of the United States Code. The jurisdiction for federal sex crimes is twofold:

  • Sex crimes committed within the US’s territorial jurisdiction or within federal prisons, and
  • sex crimes committed in multiple states or in the United States and another country.

Some of the more common federal sex crimes include

  • Transporting an individual across state lines with the intent that that individual engage in sex for pay,
  • sexual exploitation of minors by way of visual depiction in print or on film,
  • child trafficking,
  • crossing state or international boundaries with the intent of having sex with a child, and
  • enticing an individual under the age of 16 to cross state lines for the purpose of having sex.


The penalties for a conviction on a sex crime vary just as widely as the laws defining the crime do. For instance, Florida’s penalty for rape (called “sexual battery” by the statute) of an individual over the age of 12 is a prison sentence of up to 15 years. However, if the victim was under 12 and the perpetrator was over the age of 18, the crime is a capital felony, which is punishable by either the death penalty or life in prison.

If the defendant used a deadly weapon or force likely to cause serious bodily injury, the crime is a life felony, punishable by between 30 years and life in prison. If the defendant used threats or coercive acts, if the victim was physically incapacitated, or the victim was physically unable to resist, a conviction is a first degree felony and may be punished by up to 30 years in prison.

Sex Offender Registry

Both the state of Florida and the federal government maintain sex offender registries, and a conviction of a sexual offense by either jurisdiction is likely to lead to placement on that jurisdiction’s sex offender registry. If a defendant is placed on either registry, the law requires that the defendant keep his or her address up to date on the database to allow others in the neighborhood to be aware of their presence.


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