Three different parties can press charges for statutory rape in Florida:
- The state of Florida
- The minor’s parents or guardians
- The minor (once s/he reaches age of majority)
The State of Florida
If the Florida State’s Attorney becomes aware of a legally non-consensual relationship between a minor and an adult, the State can press criminal charges against the older party, if it has enough evidence.
The State can bring charges even if the minor and parents of the minor do not want to bring charges against him. If the court convicts the perpetrator, he will likely face significant prison time and will have to register a sexual offender.
The Parents of the Minor
Parents of the minor can file both criminal and civil charges against the perpetrator. Criminal charges can lead to conviction on sex crimes charges.
A civil claim holds the perpetrator civilly (often financially liable) for the effects of the statutory rape. Parents can file on behalf of their child against the person who committed the rape as long as they file their claim within Florida’s statute of limitations, which is seven years from the victim’s 18th birthday.
When the minor turns 18, she may be able to file her own civil claim for the physical and emotional distress she experienced because of the rape. She must file a civil suit within seven years of her 18th birthday.
What Are the Statutory Rape Laws in Florida?
Generally, Florida law prohibits adults age 18 and older from engaging in sexual activity with someone under the age of 18, even if it is consensual. This is because minors cannot legally consent to sexual activity with adults.
However, there are “close age” exceptions to this rule. These exceptions are known as the “Romeo and Juliet” laws. Under Florida Statute § 794.05, if a person is under the age of 24, he may legally engage in consensual sex with someone who is 16 or 17. No one who is 24 years old or older, may engage in sexual activity with someone who is 16 or 17. No one over 18 can engage in sexual activity with anyone under 16.
How Can We Prove Statutory Rape?
Much like with other rape cases, we will have to establish both sexual contact and consent.
To establish sexual contact, we may require evidence such as:
- Medical reports indicating that sexual contact has occurred
- Rape kit results, including DNA test results, if available
- Testimony from the victim as to the nature of the sexual contact
- Medical expert testimony as to the causation and extent of the victim’s injuries
- Medical expert and counselor testimony as to the likely long-term effects of statutory rape on the victim
- Testimony from friends and family regarding the relationship between the minor and the alleged perpetrator
Other rape cases rest on the issue of consent. However, in cases involving a minor, the only thing we must prove is the ages of the parties involved, when the sexual contact occurred, and whether the minor was legally able to consent under the law. As stated above, minors under the age of 16 are never able to consent to sexual activity with someone over the age of 18.
Note: You can expect the accused to claim he did not know you or your child was under 18. Lack of knowledge is not a viable defense against statutory rape charges.
What Can I Recover?
While some people might think statutory rape is not a “big deal,” it can have long-term repercussions, especially if your child regrets, was coerced into, or becomes pregnant from the sexual contact. Statutory rape victims and their parents may recover compensation for these repercussions. Damages may include:
- Medical expenses to cover treatments, prescriptions, surgeries, testing, psychological treatment, and other costs.
- Compensation for emotional trauma, mental anguish, and other mental and emotional issues resulting from the incident.
Victims of statutory rape may have suffered physical and emotional injuries. The long-term effects of rape on a child can be devastating and impact many areas of her life. That is why it is so important that those who are guilty of statutory rape face the consequences.
These Cases Are Often Difficult to Handle. We Can Help.
In addition to facing criminal penalties, perpetrators who have taken advantage of younger girls and boys may be civilly liable for the harm they caused. If you or a loved one wants to file a statutory rape claim for damages, contact Edwards Pottinger LLC at 954-524-2820. We will investigate your claim and let you know your legal options.