Brad Post, Host, Create the Movement: All right. Welcome to our podcast.
We are speaking to criminal defense attorneys at Bauer, Crider Kenny and
Parry, Mike Kenny. Mike, how are you doing today?
Mike Kenny, Attorney, Bauer, Crider, Kenny and Parry: I’m doing very
well. How are you doing?
B: Good. We are in the juvenile crimes, and today we’re going to
be talking about juvenile sex crimes in Tampa. Previously, in our podcast,
we did one on sexting. So, you guys can go back and listen to that. I
think it was our number three podcast. But Mike, can you kind of give
us an overview of juvenile sex crimes?
M: Well, sure. There’s a couple of major concerns in juvenile sex
crimes. Sex crimes, in and of themselves, have that very daunting perspective
from a person who’s accused. Nobody wants to be accused of something
like that. It’s kind of one of those things that once that bell
is rung, it’s really hard to escape that type of accusation in your
normal life. Even if you’re successful in being acquitted. It has
a very significant impact on a person’s life.
And the sex crimes in juvenile court are going to be the same types of
sex crimes that are prosecuted in adult court. You have crimes like sexual
battery. Which is essentially what some people might commonly understand
is what’s called a rape. You have lewd or lascivious molestation
which is the touching of a person, under the age of 16, over their clothing,
on their chest, buttocks or crotch. You know? The sexual organ area. You
have lewd or lascivious battery which is the penetration of the genital
area by another person, and the victim is under the age of 16-years-old.
They’re all the same types of crimes. What’s unique is that
in juvenile cases age of the offender is very significant. And I can tell
you the biggest reason why it’s significant is the registration
requirement. A lot of people out there might realize that people who were
convicted of sex crimes may have to register as sexual offenders. That’s
the case in the state of Florida. Anybody who’s convicted of a sex
crime has to at least register as a sexual offender.
Well, when you’re a juvenile, depending on how old you are, if you’re
convicted of a sex crime you’re going to have to register as a sexual
offender. And that’s something that your lawyer is going to want
to know. Because, he’d better know, I should say, what the age is,
and what the age requirements are. And in Florida, the age is 14. A person
is accused of committing a crime at the age of 14, and is convicted of
committing a sex crime, he or she is going to have to register with the
state of Florida as a sexual offender.
That means this 14-year-old, going on 15, 16, is going to register. And
it’s going to be public record, this person is convicted of committing
a sex offense. Now, just imagine what kind of impact that has on a 14
or 15-year-old. And just imagine how difficult that’s going to be
for a person of that age to ever start life off on the right foot. Now,
if the person was just a few months younger, 13-years old, and is convicted
the same exact act, that person is not going to have to register.
So, it’s very important for the lawyer fighting this type of sex
crime case to know what it is he or she is dealing with. And a lot of
times, your battle isn’t always with the facts, but your battle
is with the state attorney’s office trying to get them to maybe
agree to negotiate this charge as something that does not require a sex
offender registration. There have been plenty cases that I’ve been
involved in, that were juvenile cases, where someone 14 years of age may
have been accused of committing a sex act, and I have been able to get
the prosecutor either to not to make a filing decision. That means is
no charge at all. Or, sometimes agree to amend the charge to something,
like I said, would not be necessarily a sex crime, but maybe addresses
some elements the prosecutor was concerned about. And you have the juvenile
getting whatever attention that he needs as far as counseling is concerned.
And you also have a second chance. A second chance meaning this juvenile
isn’t going to have the rest of his life marred by this conviction.
The unique thing is, in the state of Florida, the age of the victim is
really “the one that drives a bus”. So, if you have two consenting
15-year-olds, theoretically they have both committed a sexual crime if
they both engage in either lewd or lascivious molestation or battery,
or something of that nature. So, it’s not necessarily the consent
of a party. And because you really aren’t at liberty to consent
at the age of 15 in the state of Florida. So, it’s the age that
kind of “drives the bus” in all these crimes.
My experience has been one that would, really, I think the most important
thing to do is when you get a call from a family member who says, “Hey,
I got a son or daughter is accused of this type a sex offense,”
my experience has been that the best the do is, you know, depending on
the facts, obviously, talk about getting the child an evaluation. You
know? When you hire a lawyer, and a lawyer who knows what he or she’s
doing, they’re going to have some experience knowing, you know,
who’s out there in the community who might be appropriate to handle
certain types of cases like this as far as sexual evaluations.
There are plenty of psychologists out there, and psychiatrists out there,
who deal in sex-type crimes. And a lot of times, these evaluations can
sometimes give a message to the prosecutor that this kid is just a kid,
and this criminal act isn’t necessarily an indication of some deep-rooted
sexual deviancy. But sometimes, it’s just, you know, a period that
this kid is a little confused and doing some exploration. My experience
has been that when prosecutors realize that it’s more of a confused
child, as opposed to somebody who’s got a prolific problem, the
prosecutor may be more willing to work with you as far as what the outcome of
criminal case is.
And it really is something that is so crucial, that when a lawyer’s
handling a juvenile accused of a sex crime, that you hire somebody who
knows what he’s doing. Because every step along the way is going
to have an impact on the rest of this child’s life.
B: And it’s important again, and we say this always, but early in
the process, Because, like you said, it could affect them for the rest
of their lives.
M: Absolutely. There are cases that I’ve had, and not even that long
ago, that you usually get a sign pretty quickly that there’s a criminal
case coming. When I say “you”, the family member. A lot of
times the cases that that you get involved in are that there’s some
conversation between two juveniles, and maybe a parent of one of the juveniles
gets wind of it, and they call the police. The police come out, and they
start asking questions. It’s usually around that time that mom and
dad of the juvenile accused realize that there’s something that’s
happening. And at that moment, is probably when you want to get a lawyer involved.
Having a child answer questions from law enforcement, while maybe seems
in everybody’s mind is a good idea to be cooperative, sometimes
can have a very negative impact on the future of that case and how it’s
handled. So, my advice obviously is don’t talk to the police until
you talk to a lawyer. And that lawyer will be able to give you some advice
as far as whether it’s a good idea to cooperate, or not. In a lot
of cases, if not most cases, it’s probably not a good idea to have
a conversation with law enforcement.
But if you get involved early, sometimes, you can address whatever issues
might be out there. You can get this sexual evaluation that might be helpful
for the prosecutor to make the appropriate assessment. And there have
been plenty cases where the prosecution has decided not to file charges
based upon those facts and circumstances. And that’s huge, because
if they don’t file charges everything is over. There isn’t
any criminal history. There isn’t any registration that this juvenile
has to deal with. It’s a lot easier for me to have a conversation
about a prosecutor maybe not filing charges, that it is for me to have
a conversation after charges are filed and ask the prosecutor to change
his or her mind. I mean, I can tell you it’s, I know it’s
impossible for me to get my wife to change her mind, let alone a prosecutor.
M: You always want start in the beginning before they make that decision.
B: All right. If you’ve been charged with a sex crime, a juvenile
sex crime, it is important to hire experienced juvenile sex crime lawyers
in Tampa like about Bauer, Crider, Kenny and Parry. And join us for our
next edition of our podcast.