The terms sexual battery and sexual assault are often used interchangeably. While it’s true that they are considered the same thing in some jurisdictions, the same isn’t true in Florida.
These important differences are critical if you’re charged with a sex crime.
In Florida, sexual assault occurs when an attacker engages in unwanted sexual conduct with a victim. It can be as simple as touching or using another object for penetration.
Sexual battery happens when you force the victim to engage in sexual intercourse. It’s a more narrow definition of sexual assault and has clearly defined statutes in Florida law.
Let’s get into the details on the differences and similarities between sexual battery and assault.
Sexual Assault Defined
Sexual assault is an umbrella term that defines various sexual crimes. It is a one-time event where the perpetrator engages in non-consensual or unwanted sexual activity.
Sexual assault can include many activities:
- Forcing the victim to perform sexual acts
In addition, sexual assault also occurs whenever an attacker attempts an assault and fails. You can face the same charges regardless of the outcome.
Aggravated Sexual Assault
Aggravated sexual assault happens when there is an additional force in the attack. That can mean using a weapon or the attacker threatening violence. Aggravated assault also occurs when the attacker causes bodily harm to the victim.
Sexual Assault Laws in Florida
Sexual assault laws in Florida cover the wide array of sexual misconduct acts that can be committed. There is no specific statute in Florida law that defines sexual assault. Instead, the laws for sexual assault exist in various statutes for other crimes.
Take Title IX sexual assault, for instance. Sexual assault, in this case, pertains to crimes involving the victim’s education rights. Title IX is a civil rights law that protects students from sex-based discrimination. If a sexual assault occurs due to discrimination, it will fall under Title IX.
You can find other definitions of sexual assault in statutes related to assault, sexual battery, and child abuse.
Sexual Battery Defined
Sexual battery sounds similar to sexual assault, but there are a few differences.
Sexual battery is a more specific charge than assault. Someone accused of sexual battery is suspected of performing sexual acts without a person’s consent. This act includes penetration of the victim’s sexual organs. In Florida, this is the same as the crime of rape.
Aggravated Sexual Battery
Aggravated sexual battery occurs when an element of force elevates the seriousness of a sexual battery case. Many factors upgrade the offense:
- Threat of personal harm
- Violence that resulted in an injury
- Physical or mental incapacitation
- Age of victim is under 18
- Perpetrator holds a position of power
Sexual Battery Laws in Florida
The Title XLVI statutes in Florida govern sexual battery laws. These statutes define sexual battery as occurring when the victim says no, can’t consent, or is restrained. It also describes an attacker’s actions to force unwanted sexual contact without the victim’s consent.
Similarities Between Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse
Sexual assault and sexual abuse are both the result of sexual misconduct. But there is one significant difference.
Sexual abuse is often described as unwanted sexual contact with a minor. This abuse is considered sexual battery and can come from several actions:
- Unwanted touching
- Sexual messages
- Unwanted exposure
How Is Sexual Assault Punished?
Florida law enforcement officers pursue sexual assault cases as felonies. That means you can face severe fines and jail time if convicted. You can expect the following criminal charges if convicted:
- $10,000 in fines and up to 15 years in prison for felony charges
- $15,000 in fines and up to life in prison for aggravated sexual assault
- Between 25 years and life in prison for capital charges for victims between the ages of 12 and 18
- Sex offender registration
How Is Sexual Battery Punished?
Florida law enforcement officers also pursue sexual battery cases as felonies with severe fines and a prison sentence if you’re convicted. The following sexual battery charges apply if convicted:
- $10,000 in fines, between 34.5 months to 30 years in prison, and up to 30 years probation with felony charges
- $10,000 in fines, between 34.5 months to life in prison, and up to a life of parole with aggravated felony charges
- $10,000 in fines, between 108 months to life in prison, and up to life of parole with life felony charges if the victim is between the ages of 12 and 18
- Lifetime in prison with no possibility for early release for a capital felony for victims under the age of 12
- Registration as a sex offender
Are All Sexual Battery & Assaults a Felony?
The severity of sexual battery and sexual assault varies based on where you live. But in Florida, both sexual assault and battery are considered felonies.
The degree of felony charge you receive will depend on the nature of the assault. For more minor sexual assault charges, you’ll receive a second-degree felony. If there are aggravating factors, you can receive a first-degree felony.
You can receive more severe felony charges if the victim is a minor. The charge can upgrade to life and capital felony charges in these situations.
Do All Sexual Battery & Assault Charges Result in Conviction?
Being accused of sexual battery or assault in Florida doesn’t mean you’ll get convicted. You’ll get your day in court to prove your case against your alleged victim.
The prosecution needs to prove the factors below to get a successful conviction:
- The victim was held against their will
- The victim was incapacitated
- Physical contact occurred
- The defendant touched the victim’s private parts
Get Legal Representation
Facing charges for a sexual offense isn’t a problem you should take on alone. You can face severe consequences because of these charges, so getting help from a criminal defense attorney is your smartest choice.
You can get help now by contacting Mike G Law. Reach out today for a free consultation and legal advice that will help.