Florida sex crimes are covered under multiple statutes and under different names than what we may expect. While most people understand what sexual assault or statutory rape is, what is meant by lewd and lascivious behavior is a bit unclear because of its name. Here’s what you need to know about lewd and lascivious acts and the crimes that fall under it.
What is Lewd and Lascivious Behavior?
Lewd and lascivious behavior, at its most basic, is inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature where the victim is someone under 16 years old.
Florida Statute 800.04 divides lewd and lascivious behavior into four categories:
- Lewd and Lascivious Battery (sexual activity with a child under 16 or forcing a child under 16 into prostitution)
- Lewd and Lascivious Molestation (inappropriate touching of a child under 16 on their genitals, breasts, or buttocks or over the clothing covering such areas)
- Lewd and Lascivious Conduct (inappropriate touching of a sexual nature of a child under 16)
- Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition (masturbating in front of someone under 16 or other exposure in front of a child under 16 years of age)
These crimes vary in severity, though they are all felonies. You can learn more about these four offenses on our Florida Sex Crimes: Lewd and Lascivious page.
Does There Need to Be Penetration?
Sexual acts in general can be considered lewd or lascivious conduct, regardless whether there was penetration. Anal or vaginal penetration is not required for the act to be considered a sexual.
Physical penetration is likely to turn lewd conduct into a more serious crime such as rape, sexual assault, or sexual battery.
Is Lewd and Lascivious Behavior a Crime?
Lewd and lascivious behavior is considered a very serious offense, and the penalties for those convicted of any of the four crimes under the Lewd and Lascivious statute are severe.
If you’re being investigated on a lewd and lascivious charge or if you’ve already been charged, seek legal counsel immediately!
What is the Punishment for Lewd and Lascivious Behavior?
The punishment for lewd and lascivious behavior will depend on the charges themselves, any previous convictions the alleged perpetrator has on their record, the age of the alleged victim when the act occurred, and the age of the alleged perpetrator at the time of the purported crime.
Depending on these factors, a defendant may be charged with a first, second, or third degree felony.
A first degree felony is the most severe and is punishable by up to 30 years of prison time and a fine of up to $10,000.
A second degree felony may result in prison time of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Conviction on a third degree felony charge can lead to five years of prison time and a fine of up to $5,000.
For an individual who is a repeat offender, a conviction means a more severe sentence. According to FL Statute 775.082, an individual who is a repeat offender may be sentenced to the max— that means prison for 30 years for a first degree felony and 15 years for a second degree felony.
Individuals with a felony conviction may find it difficult to secure future employment, housing, or loans—it remains legal to discriminate against felons. Therefore, in order to protect your future, you must secure representation.
If You’re Charged with Lewd and Lascivious Behavior, Do You Have to Be on the Sex Offender Registry?
Because of the severity of lewd and lascivious charges, if you’re convicted, you may be required to register as a sexual offender with the state of Florida. This means that you will need to regularly report to authorities and keep them up to date on everything from your employment and address to your social media accounts. In addition, your housing options may be limited. The sex offender registry can be searched by your friends, family, future neighbors, employers, and coworkers, making it much harder to rebuild your life.
If you move, you will need to register with your new local authority as quickly as possible.
To learn more about the Sex Offender registry, visit our page on the topic.
How Do You Defend Against Lewd and Lascivious Behavior Charges?
There are two defenses that cannot be used when it comes to lewd and lascivious charges:
- A defendant cannot use the chastity or promiscuity of the alleged victim as part of a defense
- A defendant cannot claim ignorance of the alleged victim’s age as a defense
This makes defending against such charges a bit harder. A skilled defense lawyer will need to challenge the evidence against his client, the manner in which the evidence was collected, the testimony of the alleged victim, and other procedural and legal aspects of the state’s case. This can be an arduous task—one that requires a lot of time that a public defender may not have.
It is crucial that you secure a talented Tampa sex crimes lawyer if you’re facing lewd and lascivious behavior charges. Otherwise, you may find yourself being pushed into taking a plea deal so that your case is resolved quickly.
Why Does the Law Use Two Words That Mean the Same Thing?
Both the words lewd and lascivious mean an offensive sexual desire. This word is originally from England during the 1500s, where the phrase was initially ““laughable and lascivious,” another recurring synonym. Back then, lawyers were fluent in both English and French. The redundancy in the similar words made their relationship easier and more understandable. The word “lewd” refers to something that is sexually unchaste or lustful, while the word “lascivious” means something sexually arousing or lustful. It is pronounced “luh-SIV-ee-us.” This is why there are two words used in the law that essentially mean the same thing.
Charged? Call Mike G Law Immediately!
If you’ve been charged with a crime or if you’re being investigated from a crime, it’s crucial that you get Mike G on your side as soon as possible. Lewd and lascivious crimes have severe consequences—don’t be taken advantage of. Seek representation as soon as possible.
If you don’t have a lawyer, you may be pressured to take a plea deal that’s in the best interest of the prosecution or tricked into telling the police things you shouldn’t. Make sure you’re protected—call Mike G Law to have an advocate on your side that’s committed to protecting your rights and fighting for the best possible outcome.
As a former sex crimes prosecutor, Mike G has a wealth of experience when it comes to lewd and lascivious crimes. He’s seen what prosecutors will do to make their case and knows how to protect his clients from an overreaching legal system intent on a high conviction rate. He’s also seen how law enforcement will use a lewd and lascivious charge inappropriately in order to appease parents or punish alleged perpetrators. Don’t let this happen to you—call Mike G today.