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Unlawful Sexual Activity with Minors

Under Florida law, the victim’s lack of chastity is not a defense to the crime of unlawful sexual activity with a minor child who is 16 or 17 years old. In many of these cases, the prosecution will attempt to prevent the defense from showing evidence that the alleged victim has previously engaged in sexual activities with others. In fact, the statute specifies that the "victim’s prior sexual conduct is not a relevant issue in a prosecution under this section."

Nevertheless, in some cases, this evidence of the alleged victim's prior acts is admissible if it goes to the bias or motive of the alleged victim to make false accusations. Keep in mind that under Florida law, the defendant's ignorance of the victim's age, the victim's misrepresentation of his or her age, or the defendant's bona fide belief of the victim's age is not a defense to the crime of engaging in unlawful sexual activity with a 16 or 17-year-old child.

If you were charged with unlawful sexual activity with certain minors under Florida Statute § 794.05, then contact a criminal defense attorney in Tampa, FL, at Sammis Law Firm. This criminal charge applies when a defendant who is 24 years old or older engages in sexual contact with a child who is only 16 or 17 years old. 

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm represent clients charged with sexually motivated crimes throughout the Tampa Bay area including the courtrooms in Tampa in Hillsborough County, Brooksville in Hernando County, New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, Bartow and Lakeland in Polk County and Bradenton in Manatee County.

Call 813-250-0500 for a free consultation. 


Elements of Unlawful Sexual Activity with Minors under § 794.05

The elements that must be proven at trial, beyond a reasonable doubt, for a prosecution of Unlawful Sexual Activity with Minors under Florida Statute § 794.05 include: 

  • At the time, the defendant was 24 years of age or older;
  • The victim was 16 or 17 years of age;
  • The defendant committed an act with the victim in which either:
    • the sexual organ of the defendant penetrated or had union with the mouth, vagina or anus of the victim; or
    • the sexual organ of the victim penetrated or had union with the mouth, vagina or anus of the defendant.
  • The committed an act with the victim in which the vagina or anus of the victim or defendant was penetrated by an object.

If the prosecution alleges that the vagina or anus of the victim or defendant was penetrated with an object, then Florida law provides that the definition of “an object” includes a finger. In fact, digital penetration is one of the most common accusations made under this section. 

Under § 794.05(1), Fla. Stat., sexual activity does not include an act done for a bona fide medical purpose.

The standard jury instruction in Florida for unlawful sexual activity with a minor was first adopted in 1998 [723 So.2d 123] and last amended in 2015.


Penalties for Sex Acts with a Child Who is 16 or 17 Years Old

Crimes under Florida Statute § 794.05, are charged as a felony of the second degree, punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison.

The penalties for engaging in a sexual act with a minor child under Florida Statute § 794.05 is subject to enhanced penalties if the sexual offense was committed by a school authority figure against a student at the same school.


Definitions in Florida's Sex Crimes Statutes

The term “student” is defined to mean a person younger than 18 years of age who is enrolled at a school.

The term “authority figure” is defined to means a person 18 years of age or older who is employed by, volunteering at, or under contract with a school.

The term “school” means an organization of students for instructional purposes on an elementary, middle or junior high school, secondary or high school, or other public school level authorized under the rules of the State Board of Education. The term “school” does not include facilities dedicated exclusively to the education of adults. 

The definitions for the terms “private school” or “voluntary prekindergarten education program” or “early learning program” or “public school as described in s. 402.3025(1)” or “the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind” or the “Florida Virtual School” or the “K–8 Virtual School” can be found at § 775.0862(1)(b), Fla. Stat.

Florida law does not currently recognize any necessary lesser included offenses for the crime of engaging in sexual activities with certain minors under Florida Statute Section 794.05, except the “attempt” to commit the crime as explains in Florida Statute Section 777.04(1). 


Removal of the Disabilities of Nonage

If removal of the disabilities of nonage is raised as an issue pursuant to § 794.05(2), Fla.—Stat., the jury should be instructed with respect to § 743.01 et seq. Florida Statute Section 794(2) provides: (2) The provisions of this section do not apply to a person 16 or 17 years of age who has had the disabilities of nonage removed under chapter 743.

Florida Statute Section 743.01 provides: “Removal of disabilities of married minors.—The disability of nonage of a minor who is married or has been married or subsequently becomes married, including one whose marriage is dissolved, or who is widowed, or widowered, is removed. The minor may assume the management of his or her estate, contract and be contracted with, sue and be sued, and perform all acts that he or she could do if not a minor.”


Additional Resources

794.05 Unlawful sexual activity with minor children - Visit the website of the Florida Senate to find the statutory language under Chapter 794 for sexual battery and section 05 for unlawful sexual contact with a minor child who has yet to reach his or her 18th birthday. Find Florida’s statutes definitions index and table tracking session laws.


Attorney in Hillsborough County for Sex Acts with a 16 or 17-Year-Old Child

Many of these offenses come to light because the 16 or 17-year-old child gets pregnant. The statute provides that if an offense under this section directly results in the victim giving birth to a child, paternity of that child shall be established as described in chapter 742. If the court determines that the offender is the father of the child, the offender must pay child support pursuant to the child support guidelines described in chapter 61.

If you are charged with having unlawful sexual contact with a child who under the age of 18 years old by older than 15 years old, then contact an attorney in Tampa, FL, at the Sammis Law Firm. Related offense including lewd and lascivious conduct, statutory rape and sexual battery.  

We represent clients charged with serious sexual offenses in the greater Tampa Bay areas including throughout Hillsborough County, FL. Let us put our experience to work for you.

Call 813-250-0500 to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney about the facts of your case.


This article was last updated on Thursday, February 16, 2017.

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