Florida Sex Crimes: Lewd and Lascivious


Effective Defense from an AV Preeminent* Rated Former Prosecutor with more than 25 Years of Experience

Florida Sex Crimes: Lewd and Lascivious


Effective Defense from an AV Preeminent* Rated Former Prosecutor with more than 25 Years of Experience

Mike G Law Attorney Tampa

Why You Should Hire Mike G Law as Your Lewd and Lascivious Acts Attorney in Tampa 

When facing criminal charges for lewd and lascivious crimes or behavior, there’s a near-definite probability you’ll need to register as a sex offender should the State convict you of a crime. Being a registered sexual offender is disastrous for your life. It dictates where you can live, where you can work, and who you can interact with. 

Should the police charge you for a lewd and lascivious act, the first step is to hire a criminal defense lawyer. Mike G is a highly reputable attorney who serves the greater Tampa Bay area, including St. Petersburg and Clearwater, as well as those living in the following counties: 

Mike G has over two decades of experience working on both sides of the law. His experience as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney puts his knowledge of the law and the legal system above most other sex crime lawyers. 

He’s fought many cases involving sex offenses and has a history of winning, which proves his reputation as a dependable lewd and lascivious acts lawyer in Tampa. 

While Mike G will fight diligently to ensure you receive a fair trial, he will be honest about your situation and work toward the best possible outcome based on the circumstances. 

As a disclaimer, our law office cannot promise any specific outcome of your case. If any lawyer promises you won’t receive jail time or a prison sentence, you shouldn’t trust them. 

What Are Lewd and Lascivious Acts in Florida? 

Section 800.04 of Florida Statutes defines the crime(s) of lewd and lascivious behaviors and divides them into four categories: 

Section 800.04 defines certain legal terms as follows: 

(a) “Sexual activity” means the oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object; however, sexual activity does not include an act done for a bona fide medical purpose. 

(b) “Consent” means intelligent, knowing, and voluntary consent and does not include submission by coercion. 

(c) “Coercion” means the use of exploitation, bribes, threats of force, or intimidation to gain cooperation or compliance. 

(d) “Victim” means a person upon whom an offense described in this section was committed or attempted or a person who has reported a violation of this section to a law enforcement officer. 

There are certain facts and arguments which are prohibited from being used as a defense to the charges. The “victim’s” lack of chastity and consent is inadmissible, as is the lack of knowledge regarding the “victim’s” age. 

Lewd and Lascivious Battery 

Under Florida law, a person commits lewd or lascivious battery, a Second Degree Felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, by: 

  • Having sex with someone 12 to 15 years of age, or 
  • Encouraging, forcing, or enticing any person less than 16 years of age to engage in sadomasochistic abuse, sexual bestiality, prostitution, or any other act involving sexual activity. 

Lewd and Lascivious Molestation 

Florida law creates a separate crime when a person touches someone 15 years of age or younger in a sexual way on certain areas of the body or on the clothing covering those parts of the body. As anyone can imagine, this area of the law is subject to a great deal of interpretation. 

Florida Statute s. 800.04 defines the crime of Lewd and Lascivious Molestation as follows: 

A person who intentionally touches in a lewd or lascivious manner the breasts, genitals, genital area, or buttocks, or the clothing covering them, of a person less than 16 years of age or forces or entices a person under 16 years of age to so touch the perpetrator, commits lewd or lascivious molestation. 

If the accused is over 18 years of age and the accuser is under 12, they can go to prison for the rest of their lives. If the accused is under 18 and the victim is under 12, or if the accused is over 18 but the victim is between the ages of 12 and 15, they are looking at 15 years in prison. 

An accused under 18 with a victim who is 12-15 years of age is looking at five years in prison. 

Lewd and Lascivious Conduct  

This part of the statute criminalizes the touching of any part of a minor’s body that is not a sex organ if it’s done in a sexual manner. So if someone touches someone’s shoulder and the person touched interprets it as being offensive and of sexual nature, a crime has been committed. As you can imagine, this puts a lot of power in the hands of often inexperienced and malicious children to ruin innocent people’s lives. 

At Mike G Law, we have seen cases where individuals who touched a young girl in a certain way were charged with a sex crime, while other individuals the girl considered desirable avoided prosecution and were encouraged to continue their behavior. 

Florida Statute s. 800.04 defines the crime of lewd and lascivious conduct as follows: 

A person who: 

  • Intentionally touches a person under 16 years of age in a lewd or lascivious manner; 
  • Solicits a person under 16 years of age to commit a lewd or lascivious act; or 
  • Commits lewd or lascivious conduct 

An adult who commits Lewd and Lascivious Conduct is looking at 15 years in prison, while someone under 18 faces five years in the Florida Department of Corrections Prison System for this lascivious offense. 

Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition  

Although this section of s. 800.04 is a bit more explicit, it is still subject to a great deal of interpretation. 

Florida Statute s. 800.04 states, in part, the following: 

Anyone who: 

  • Intentionally masturbates; 
  • Intentionally exposes the genitals in a lewd or lascivious manner; or 
  • Intentionally commits any other sexual act that does not involve actual physical or sexual contact with the victim, including, but not limited to, sadomasochistic abuse, sexual bestiality, or the simulation of any act involving sexual activity in the presence of a victim who is less than 16 years of age, commits lewd or lascivious exhibitions. 

What Qualifies as Masturbation Under Florida Law? 

There is a dictionary definition that has legal validity, and then there is a cop on a call from someone who thinks they saw an act they considered to be masturbation. For example, at Mike G Law, we successfully represented a client who was simply adjusting themselves or scratching their crotch area when some helicopter mom freaked out and called the police “just to be on the safe side.”  

On countless occasions, we have successfully represented people attending a festival, could not wait in line for the porta potty, and just had to relieve themselves behind a tree charged with this sex crime. I have even seen people charged under Section 3 because they were dancing in a sexually suggestive or lewd manner somewhere. 

What’s a Good Defense for a Lewd & Lascivious Acts Charge? 

An experienced Tampa sex crime attorney can use one of several defenses in your case. Let’s review two common sex crime defenses. 

False Allegation 

There are many reasons why an alleged victim would make a false allegation against someone for inappropriate sexual behavior, but some include: 

  • Jealousy 
  • Manipulation 
  • Mental illness 

In any case, but especially in lewd and lascivious cases, it’s critical to investigate the accuser and uncover any motive for constructing a false accusation. 

Unfortunately, false accusations are widespread regarding sex crimes, so we must prepare to reveal and fight them aggressively. 

Lack of Lewd and Lascivious Intent 

To prove any lewd and lascivious crime, the State must prove several legal elements beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s the State’s responsibility to uncover the evidence that shows the jury lewd or lascivious behavior. 

The exact elements the State must prove for inappropriate sexual conduct varies depending on the criminal act. But if the State cannot prove lewd or sexual intent, your lawyer can state as such in court. Saying that the prosecution doesn’t have sufficient evidence is a valid legal defense and often a winning strategy to pursue.

Our Process: What to Expect During Your Case 

When you come into our law firm for a free consultation, you can expect Mike G to thoroughly examine your case, including the charges against you and any known evidence. He will offer legal advice about a realistic outcome for your situation. 

Should both parties agree to continue with the attorney-client relationship, we will discuss the fee arrangement. We accept credit cards and offer payment plans. 

Next, Mike G can begin collecting evidence and building a defense for your case. He will keep open lines of communication with you so you understand the charges you face and the possible penalties for any lewd and lascivious charges. 

FAQs About Lewd and Lascivious Acts Charges in Florida 

Even though all the laws regarding lewdness and indecent exposure are in Chapter 800 of Title XLVI, it can be difficult to understand if you don’t have a background in legalese. Below we answer some of the most questions and scenarios regarding lewd and lascivious acts. 

What is the sentence for lewd and lascivious behavior in Florida? 

Statute 800.04 discusses the various penalties for lewd and lascivious charges. The following crimes are usually second-degree felonies (see exceptions below): 

  • Lewd or lascivious battery 
  • Lewd or lascivious conduct by an adult (over 18 years old) 
  • Lewd or lascivious exhibition 
  • Lewd or lascivious molestation 

The penalties for a second-degree felony are as follows: 

  • A maximum fine of $10,000 
  • Up to 15 years in prison 
  • 15 years of sex offender probation 
  • Sex offender registration 

It’s important to note that those accused of lewd and lascivious battery could argue for a first-degree felony instead if the defendant is over 18 and engaged in one of the following activities: 

  • Committed sexual battery upon the victim 
  • Created child pornography with the victim 
  • Kidnapped or wrongfully imprisoned the victim 

The penalties for a first-degree felony are similar to those of a second-degree felony, but the prison sentence is up to 30 years. 

Additionally, the State can try lewd or lascivious molestation as a life felony if the defendant is over 18 years old and they molest a minor under 12 years old. A life felony means the prison sentence is for the rest of one’s natural life. 

Lewd and lascivious conduct by a minor (a person younger than 18) on another minor ages 12-16 is a third-degree felony. The punishment is a prison sentence of up to five years and a maximum fine of $5,000. 

Those convicted of lewd and lascivious offenses must also enter their information on the sex offender registry. Sex offender registry is for life. Only after 25 years from the date probation ended can you petition the State to remove your name. To be successful, you must not have any additional convictions. 

What about online lewd and lascivious conduct? 

Concerning the penalties listed, in the Spring of 2023, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law, CS/HB 379 — Technology in K-12 Public Schools, that places new regulations on all Florida schools. Legislators originally crafted the law to protect children from dangerous online sexual predators, but its scope grew substantially as it moved through both chambers of Congress. 

According to this law, administrators and teachers must enforce the following at school: 

  • Ban phone use during instructional time (although students can still bring phones to school) 
  • Ban the use of social media unless a teacher is directing students to use it for educational purposes 
  • Ban the use of TikTok 
  • Create and implement Internet safety policies to limit access by students to age-appropriate subject materials and protect students when using electronic devices 
  • Teach students in grades six through 12 about the emotional, physical, and social effects of social media 

If a Florida school district does not follow this law, it could face consequences. The district could lose funding, and/or administrators could lose their jobs. However, because the law is new, the State hasn’t tried anyone for breaking it yet. 

Regardless of the crime you’re facing related to lewd and lascivious behavior, you need a criminal defense attorney like Mike G on your side. 

What is the statute of limitations for lewd and lascivious acts in Florida? 

In Florida, for all crimes that carry the death penalty or a life felony charge, there is no statute of limitations. 

However, Florida law makes exceptions for sex crimes. Thus, many serious sex crimes do not have a statute of limitations. This means the State can bring sex crime charges against an offender at any time.  

Examples of sex crimes with no statute of limitations include: 

  • Lewd or lascivious molestation against a child under 12 years of age by a person 18 years of age or older 
  • Sexual battery involving minors older than 12 years of age 
  • Sexual battery with the use of force 
  • Sexual battery with the use or threat to use a deadly weapon 

Kidnapping a child under the age of 13 and engaging in one of the following activities is also a crime without a statute of limitations: 

  • Aggravated child abuse 
  • Exploiting the minor or allowing their exploitation by someone else 
  • Lewd or lascivious battery, conduct, exhibition, or molestation 
  • Human trafficking 
  • Prostitution of the child 
  • Sexual battery 

Lesser lewd and lascivious act chargers have a statute of limitations. 

There is a one-year limit for the “Unnatural and Lascivious Act” charge under Florida Statute 800.02 and a two-year limit for a first-degree misdemeanor charge of “Exposure of Sexual Organs” under Florida Statute 800.03

What is the difference between lascivious and lewdness? 

What is the difference between a lewd act and lascivious behavior? Are they the same? Let’s look at the definitions of these words to decide. 

The word lewd refers to something that is sexually lustful or unchaste. Similarly, the term lascivious relates to something lustful or sexually arousing. Both words reference an offensive sexual desire. 

Since the definitions of these terms are nearly identical, we can conclude they mean the same thing. 

The “lewd and lascivious acts” meaning dates back to the mid-15th century. Lascivious comes from the following sources: 

  • The Medieval Latin word lasciviosus 
  • The Latin word lascivia (lewdness, playfulness, frolicsomeness) 
  • The Latin word lascivus (lewd, playful, frolicsome) 

During this time, many lawyers spoke English and French, so the redundancy of using both words together made it easier for them to understand each other. 

Today, in addition to using the term lewd and lascivious, you also hear the term statutory rape. 

If my 12-year-old’s coach pats him on the butt for making a good play on the football field, is that against the law? 

It depends. If it is done in a sexual way, then yes, that is against the law. But who decides whether it was sexual conduct was inappropriate or not? The police? 

Sex crime investigators are often no more than a complaint department for adolescents and their parents. In today’s society, where people are just looking to get offended, perfectly innocent behavior can be re-classified as inappropriate depending on the sensitivity level of the person complaining. 

At Mike G Law, we investigate not just the allegedly inappropriate act but we look into the motives behind the claim. We have often been able to avoid criminal prosecution for our clients when we demonstrate that there were improper motives at play – for example, the jilted girlfriend or the bipolar child who will use the criminal justice system to manipulate their parents and get what they want. 

One of the most frightening things about the prosecution of sex crimes in Florida is the power that the law enforcement agencies have and how little power a judge has to stop overly aggressive prosecutions and have any significant input on sentencing for alleged lewd and lascivious behavior. 

If a 15-year-old boy grabs a girl’s breast or pats her on the butt, could he go to prison for 5 years? 

Yes. And not only that, it does not matter legally if the girl consented or even if she asked him to do it. It is still a crime. 

At Mike G Law, we have had a mom call on a Sunday in tears because a sex crime detective told her that her 13-year-old son was going to get charged with ten separate sex crimes because he touched his 13-year-old girlfriend’s boob, and it did not matter that she wanted him to do it. We immediately contacted all witnesses, memorialized their statements, and convinced the State not to file any charges, avoiding an arrest entirely. 


We have had clients in their twenties who had sex with a 15-year-old who had far more sexual experience than my client, yet they were charged with a sex crime. We have spoken to prosecutors and made them listen to the injustice of charging someone with a sex crime when the minor consented and had been sexually active. We have successfully defended clients who were charged after they had sex with an underage prostitute who tried to financially exploit my client with a threat of criminal prosecution. 

Even if a minor lies about their age, has a fake ID, and has had others lie on their behalf, saying they are 18 when they are not, this is not a defense. This is one of the provisions of Florida law that makes no sense whatsoever. 

If my girlfriend is 15, and her parents are OK with me sleeping over, how can they charge me with a sexual conduct crime? 

Because the law says they can. And not only that, you cannot introduce her and her parent’s consent to defend against the charges. What you can do is hire former sex crimes prosecutor Mike Gonzalez who understands how these charges impact your life and knows how to best deal with issues of mitigation in persuading the State to either drop or reduce charges so that you can avoid a criminal conviction and designation as a sexual predator or offender. 

Mike G Law Will Defend You Against Lewd and Lascivious Charges 

At Mike G Law, we are not afraid of going to trial. In fact, we have challenged the State’s case and seen their resolve crumble when they see we are prepared to fight. The State Attorney’s office very often relies on a bluff because they think a criminal defense lawyer or defendant does not have the will to take a case to trial. When they deal with Mike G Law, they know they will get a fight, and fear is not part of the equation. 

Mike G Law has either won outright at trial or gotten charges reduced, dropped, or “No Filed” after investigation many times on severe sex crimes like Capital Sexual Battery and Lewd and Lascivious Molestation.  

As a former sex crimes prosecutor, Mike G knows when and how to fight the State and the best way to make a case. The first step? Getting Mike G on your side. Contact Mike G Law now to schedule a consultation. 

Let Mike G Help Protect Your Rights

The decisions you make after you have been arrested can determine the outcome of your case — and possibly your life. Call Mike G Law at 813-221-4303, or contact me online.

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I would do more than 5 stars if it was available. Mr. Gonzalez was outstanding. Told everything how it was, very responsive to call and email. Fought very hard to get my husband the outcome he received. If We were to ever need a attorney in Florida again, We would use him as many times as We needed. We highly recommend to anyone looking for an awesome attorney to go with Mike G Law!!! He gets to the point!!!

Ashley F.

I cannot recommend Mr Gonzalez enough. He is extremely professional as is his entire firm. Mr Gonzalez has been very knowledgeable and forthcoming throughout the entire legal process. I highly recommend him and a definite five star!

Bonnie B.

Mike G. is a great attorney. Very professional, very punctual, easy to talk to. Thanks to him my case was dismissed charges dropped.

Eric G.

I was able to text or call Mike anytime I needed to. He worked with me, on a real level and communicated realistic expectations for my situation. Thanks again guys.

Nicole S.

I wish I could give Mr. González 10 stars out of 5. He is a stellar and highly competent criminal justice attorney. Mr. González has effectively given me a second chance at life thanks to his deep and professional knowledge of criminal law. I was facing a very serious crime that carried a considerable period of imprisonment. But thanks to his incredible talent, sheer strength of intelligence, and a strong heart to fight for an individual’s values, I can now rest easy knowing that I will not have to suffer through the penal system. If you ever have a problem with the criminal justice system, I highly recommend that you hire this remarkable gentleman to fight for you in your case. I owe you a tremendous debt for your services. He gave me back my life and I will always be grateful. Thank you Mr. Gonzalez!

Shaler B.

Mike took care of my legal and civil case and was very helpful and Professional. He was responsive to all my questions and gave me updates as I asked for them. He helped get me in a position to see my son again which I am extremely grateful for. Thank you and God bless!

William W.