Sex offense allegations in Florida are extremely serious because of the severity of the potential penalties. When someone is convicted of a sex offense, they might face years in prison followed by mandatory sex offender registration. One type of sex offense that can result in a harsh prison sentence followed by mandatory registration as a sex offender is unlawful sexual activity with a minor. Recently, Fort Pierce criminal lawyer Jonathan Jay Kirschner, Esq. won a not guilty verdict at trial on behalf of a man who was accused of unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
Man Arrested for Sexual Activity With a Minor
In Sept. 2019, deputies with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 56-year-old Stuart man and charged him with engaging in unlawful sexual activity with a teenage girl for approximately seven months. The 17-year-old girl reportedly told a school resource officer that the man had been touching her inappropriately. According to the girl, she met the man at Publix in June 2018, and the man then allegedly began acting inappropriately toward her.
She showed the deputies text messages between her and the man that were inappropriate and included discussions about sexual activity. The man allegedly sent a message stating that he was looking for a wife instead of asking for sex. When deputies initially questioned the man, he told the officers that the two had met online and that the girl was aggressive and a predator.
Sexual Activity With a Minor Charge
Unlawful sexual activity with a minor is found at § 794.05, Fla. Stat. (2021). Under this statute, you can be charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor if you are at least 24 years old and engage in sexual activity with a teen who is 16 or 17. The statute defines sexual activity as including orally, vaginally, or anally penetrating the victim with an object or with the defendant’s sexual organ. A conviction for this offense is a class 2 felony carrying the potential of up to 15 years in prison, a fine of $15,000, and sex offender probation for up to 15 years. People who are convicted of this offense are also required to register as sex offenders, which can result in other collateral consequences.
Defense and Trial
The man retained Jonathan Jay Kirschner, Esq. to defend him against the allegations. Attorney Kirschner recognized the serious penalties the man was facing and worked with a team of investigators and experts, including a jury selection and behavioral psychologist expert and an investigator who was previously employed as a law enforcement sex crimes investigator. Attorney Kirschner was assisted at trial by attorney Stephanie McEnery, Esq., who served as his second chair.
The case took a couple of years to go to trial because of the pandemic. When the trial happened, attorney Kirschner presented evidence showing that the alleged victim preyed on middle-aged men to secure gifts and money. His legal team had mined the girl’s phone using Cellebrite technology and recovered text messages that showed she engaged in similar conversations via text with multiple men. Attorney Kirschner also argued that while the text messages between the defendant and the alleged victim appeared to be sexual in nature, they didn’t prove that sexual activity as defined by the statute had actually occurred. After a three-day trial, both sides rested. The jury then spent just three hours in deliberations before returning a verdict of not guilty. The not-guilty verdict means that Attorney Kirschner’s client does not have to worry about any penalties and can move forward with his life.
Defending Against Charges of Sexual Activity with a Minor
While a charge of unlawful sexual activity with a minor is serious, it is possible to defend against it with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Jonathan Jay Kirschner, Esq., & Associates. We thoroughly investigate our clients’ cases and work closely with investigators and experts to identify the best defense strategies to use. Our hard work helps us to hold the prosecutors to their burden of proof, and we aggressively litigate on our clients’ behalf to protect their rights. If you are facing a similar legal situation, contact a sexual activity with a minor defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Jonathan Jay Kirshner, Esq., & Associates at (772) 489-8501 to request a consultation.