Florida law defines sexual battery and sexual assault as separate crimes, but the two terms are frequently used interchangeably and often incorrectly, leading to confusion and uncertainty for individuals who may be facing criminal charges. Every sexual battery is also a sexual assault, but not every assault is a battery.

Sexual assault means any form of unwanted sexual contact with another person. It can occur when one person attempts to engage in a sexual act with another, with or without penetration. But the crime can also include other kinds of behavior, such kissing, hugging, fondling or groping, depending on the circumstances. Sexual assault in Florida is a felony, even if the offender attempts assault but is unsuccessful. Punishments include substantial fines and up to 15 years in prison.

Sexual battery, by contrast, is oral, anal or female genital penetration of another person by any means without that person’s consent. Lack of consent includes situations where the victim is coerced, drugged, physically helpless, mentally defective or incapacitated.

Sexual battery is a felony, with penalties depending on the ages of the parties involved. If both parties are over 18 years of age, a defendant may face up to 25 years in prison. If the victim is under the age of 18, or the sexual battery is accomplished through use of physical force that could cause injury or involves threatening the victim with a deadly weapon, a defendant can face the possibility of life in prison. If the victim is under 12 and the defendant is over 18, the crime is charged as a capital felony and could potentially draw the death penalty.

Sexual assault and sexual battery charges sometimes overlap, which can expose defendants to the possibility of heightened sentencing. For all of these reasons, it is important that anyone charged with a sex crime consult immediately with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can gather the facts and evidence necessary to prepare the strongest possible response.

The Law Offices of Tad A. Yates, P.C. in Orlando represents Florida residents who are facing sexual assault or sexual battery charges. If you have questions or need representation, please call us at 407-608-7777 or contact us online anytime.

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