Three local young men are not going to be considered sex offenders or even felons after the State Attorney’s Office reduced their Duval County sex charges to misdemeanors. According to an article in The Florida Times Union, the three were arrested in early April on charges of lewd and lascivious battery, a second degree felony, and computer pornography, which is a third degree felony. In addition to looking at many years in prison, the men were facing being sex offenders for the rest of their lives. The alleged victim, a minor, originally told police she was forced to engaging in sexual contact, but later changed her story. The article also reports that video of the incident shows that the contact was consensual. All three will enter pleas to contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida. They will be sentenced to probation to perform community service hours, have no contact with the girl, and have no unsupervised contact with minors.
When someone is even accused of a sex crime in Jacksonville, there is a stigma that automatically attaches. Even if the accusation is a complete lie. In sex cases, there is often no physical or eyewitness evidence, just someone’s word. Despite the lack of evidence which so often accompanies sex charges, they are punishable as if you had murdered someone. Many Jacksonville sex crimes are punishable by fifteen years, thirty years or life in prison. There are all kinds of reasons people lie, but when someone says they have been sexually assaulted, there is usually going to be an arrest.
If you are arrested for any type of sex crime in northeast Florida or anywhere, you should first contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your area. Just because you have been arrested does not mean that the State Attorney’s Office will file the charges you were arrested for. As in the above mentioned case, prosecutors have wide discretion in what charges they pursue. In this case, the State’s alleged victim lied up front, claiming she had sex against her will. It turned out she was lying, for whatever reason. Even if the sex was consensual, a minor cannot consent to any sexual contact and the State could have pursued the sex charges. Instead, they chose to drop all of the sex felony charges and let the men enter pleas to a misdemeanor. They will be able to go on with their lives and hopefully avoid any of these type of issues in the future.