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.