Earlier last month, an 18-year old high school student entered a plea of no contest to misdemeanor battery and felony interference with child custody to avoid the possibility of a 15 year prison sentence and mandatory lifetime sex-offender registration. She was originally charged with lewd and lascivious assault on a minor but was offered a deal by the county prosecutor. According to a Reuter’s report, the high-school student was involved in a sexual relationship with a 14-year old teammate.
The 18-year old—who was charged as any other adult would be—would have faced felony sex offender charges had she elected to reject the plea offer and proceed to trial. Such charges would have potentially exposed her to a maximum term of 15 years in prison and mandatory sex offender registration for the rest of her life. Instead, she will remain in jail until December 20, at which point she will be released and be placed on felony supervision for three years.
Sex-Related Offenses Are Some of the Most Serious Crimes in Florida
Aside from homicide crimes, sex offenses are the most serious crimes in Florida. Most sex offenses are punished as felonies, which means that—at a minimum—a convicted defendant is looking at a sentence of:
- Up to 5 years in prison, and
- A fine of up to $5,000.
However, some offenders feel that the collateral consequences of being convicted of a sex offense are worse than the fines and prison time. In Florida, most convicted sex offenders must register for the rest of their lives. The conviction can also follow them from state to state, meaning they must register every time they move. Failure to register can result in a new felony offense.
In addition, depending on the nature and seriousness of the crime, many employers may choose not to employ those convicted of sex offenses; even if the conviction was years in the past.
Keeping Sex Offenses Off a Criminal Record
Whether it be through an acquittal or a favorable plea bargain, the best thing to do when charged with a sex offense in Florida is to try and keep the conviction off your criminal record. One option is to plead guilty or no contest to a less serious offense, as the high-school student did in the case above. However, not all defendants charged with a sex-related offense will be offered an opportunity to plead guilty or no contest to a less serious offense, as the prosecutor and judge must agree to such a bargain. But all defendants can ensure that they have a strong defense by hiring an experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorney to represent them.
Have You Been Charged with a Sex Offense in Florida?
If you have been charged with a sex offense in Florida, you need to make sure that you prepare for what is to come. A sex-offense conviction can change the rest of your life. Be sure to enlist the assistance of an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney early in the process. The longer your attorney has to prepare your case, the better the chance he can secure a favorable plea deal, saving you the trouble and stress of going to trial and potentially keeping the offense off your record. Click here to contact the Forbess Law Firm online, or call 904-634-0900 today to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
See More Blog Posts:
Sunrise Police Officer Resigns After Being Charged With Marijuana Distribution, Jacksonville Criminal Attorney Blog, October 7, 2013.
Convicted Murderer Possibly Suffers From New Lethal Injection Concoction, Jacksonville Criminal Attorney Blog, October 24, 2013.