Age of Consent laws in the United States often come under attack for a number of reasons. Most states’ age of consent falls between the age of 16 and 18. Some believe the age of 16 is too young, while others believe the age of 18 is too old. Many believe that judges aren’t given enough flexibility for cases in which teens are charged and tried for having consensual sex with other teens. Even worse, age of consent laws often justify prosecution of teens under the age of consent, many of whom cannot engage in legal sexual activity.
In Florida, breaking the age of consent laws because you did not know a person’s age cannot be used as a legal defense, regardless of physical or emotional maturity. If the person under the age of consent lied about his or her age, it does not make a difference in the eyes of the law.
Florida’s age of consent is currently set at the age of 18. Anyone engaged in sex with a minor can be charged with statutory rape. Florida’s “Romeo & Juliet Law” was devised as a way to reduce the number of charges levied toward close-in-age individuals or underage individuals, so long as there is less than a four year gap between the underage individual and the underage person with whom he or she had sexual activity.
If a person over the age of 18 engages in sexual activity with a person under the age of 16, then the older individual may be charged with felony lewd and lascivious conduct. If the accused is found guilty, he or she may spend up to 15 years in prison.
The same 15-year sentence may be imposed if an individual travels across state lines in order to meet up with a minor who may be over the age of consent in another state. In other words, you cannot travel outside of Florida to have sex with a 17-year-old in a state whose age of consent law takes effect at age 16 without breaking Florida law.
If an individual violates age of consent laws by engaging in sexual activity with a child under the age of 12, he or she may be charged with felony sexual battery in the first degree. In some cases this may be charged as a capital offense. If charged as a capital offense, the death penalty may be imposed. Otherwise the offender is looking a prison sentence not to exceed life.