The crime of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child involves more than the simple exposure of one’s genitalia; it tends to fall short of full sexual assault of a child. Prior to the passing of lewd and lascivious conduct statutes, perpetrators of this crime were charged with attempted sexual assault. Thus, to protect minors, more and more states, over the years, started passing laws that prohibit any form of sexual contact between adults and children. In Florida, Idaho and some other states, lewd and lascivious conduct is also used to refer to sexual contact charges. In other states this same offense is used interchangeably with indecency with a child or indecent contact with a child.
For a person to be charged with lewd conduct with a child, the following elements should be present:
- The victim is a minor. State statutes differ with regard to who may be considered a minor and who is no longer considered as a minor. In some states, like Idaho, for one, a minor or a child is any person under the age of 16; in other states, like Texas, a minor is person who is under the age of 17.
- There is sexual contact. Again, states differ when it comes to defining what sexual contact is, besides some type of touching, which may be done through the use of instruments (like sex toys), genital-to-genital contact, or mere rubbing of genitals with a victim’s hand. Most state laws also do not differentiate between sexual contact over the clothing and under the clothing – this is to thwart any attempt down play the sexual contact component of the crime.
- Intent of the contact. Lewd and lascivious conduct is said to be committed for the purpose of arousing or gratifying one’s sexual desires (or the sexual desires of a third party). This intent definitely rules out any likelihood of accidental contact, especially contact over clothing.
According to the Flaherty Defense Firm, “When it comes to sex crimes, most people tend to think you are guilty until proven innocent instead of the other way around. Just being accused of such a terrible crime is enough to ruin your reputation, your career, and your family. And that is only the beginning. If you are convicted of a sex crime in Destin or anywhere in Florida, you will likely go to prison for a very long time and be forced to register as a sexual offender for the rest of your life.
One problem is, when faced with such a terrifying ordeal, it would be easy to decide that there is no hope. That there is no way to get around the fact that your life is over and you are going to prison.
Do NOT make this mistake. Just because you have been accused does not mean it is a sure thing that you will get convicted. What is necessary, rather, is that you answer with the right response, which is to fight back and do everything you can to save yourself. Hiring an experienced sex crime defense lawyer on your side may be a good start.