Hundreds of years ago, it was common for people to get married young. It was also common for girls as young as fourteen (if not younger) to marry a man much older than them. Even in the United States, it’s not unusual for couples 10 or 20 years apart to meet, fall in love, and get married.
Such relationships are acceptable if the younger party is 18 or older, but when someone is a minor and they have a romantic encounter or relationship with a legal adult, it’s taboo and downright illegal according to society’s standards and Florida’s statutory rape laws. But the law doesn’t always keep minors from dating adults, now do they?
If you’re in trouble with the law because you had a sexual relationship with a minor (someone under the age of 18), we urge you to familiarize yourself with Florida’s “age of consent” and statutory rape laws.
What Is the Age of Consent in Florida?
Each state has enacted its own “age of consent” law, which is the age someone can legally consent to sexual activity. Depending on the state, the age of consent is either 16, 17, or 18. In Florida, the age of consent is 18 years old, but in Georgia and Alabama; for example, it’s only 16 years old.
Under Section 794.05(1) of the Florida Statutes, it reads: “A person 24 years of age or older who engages in sexual activity with a person 16 or 17 years of age commits a felony of the second degree.” If you’re 24 or older, you don’t have to have actual sexual intercourse to violate this law because “sexual activity” refers to vaginal or anal penetration and oral sex.
Suppose a man were to get a teenage girl pregnant. Under Sec. 794.05, a Florida court can order the presumed father to take a paternity test after the child is born and if the DNA test confirms he is in fact the child’s biological father, the court will order him to pay child support under Florida’s Child Support Guidelines.
Could I Face Sexual Battery Charges?
If you are accused of engaging in sexual activity with a minor and you’re an adult, you could be charged under Sec. 794.05 of the Florida Statutes, or instead the state can charge you with sexual battery under Section 794.011 of the Florida Statutes.
Now remember, in Florida the age of consent is 18 years old. We know, this can be confusing because often the minor is the one who made the romantic advances or the minor is the one who “came on to” the older person. But because Florida’s age of consent is 18 years old, a minor cannot legally consent to sex under any circumstances.
Under Sec. 794.011(5)(a) it reads: “A person 18 years of age or older who commits sexual battery upon a person 12 years of age or older but younger than 18 years of age, without that person’s consent, and in the process does not use physical force and violence likely to cause serious personal injury commits a felony of the first degree.” A felony of the first degree in Florida is punishable by a maximum $10,000 fine and by up to 30 years in prison.
Bottom line: If you’re 18 or older and you had sex with a minor, you could be facing first or second degree felony charges depending on your age, the victim’s age and the facts of the case – even if the minor verbally consented to the sex. Since minors cannot legally consent to sex, adults who have sex with teenagers can face ruinous felony charges in Florida.
In trouble with the law after having a romantic encounter with a teenager? If so, contact us immediately to speak with a Tampa criminal attorney.