Any and every allegation of sexual misconduct involving a child is taken very seriously by state and federal law enforcement agencies and can result in severe consequences for the adult or adults involved.
An allegation of sexual assault or abuse on its own can be bad enough; but there are circumstances and factors that can exacerbate this situation and result in even worse charges and increased penalties. For instance, people in certain roles who are accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with a child will find that they will face escalated charges.
In accordance with Florida statutes regarding criminal penalties for sex offenses, authority figures are charged differently than people who are not in a position of power over of a child.
If a person is a teacher, volunteer or contract worker at a school, he or she is considered to be an authority figure if over the age of 18. If this person engages in prohibited behaviors with a person under 18 who is enrolled at the school, he or she will be charged more seriously as a reflection of the abuse and imbalance of power in the relationship.
What this means is that a teacher or similar figure accused of an offense classified as a third degree felony will generally be charged with a second degree felony; a second degree felony offense will result in first degree felony charges if an authority figure is involved, and so on.
It is important to add that people in this situation aren’t just facing criminal penalties. They can also lose their jobs, career opportunities and relationship with those around them.
Considering how much damage can be done when a teacher or other authority figure stands accused of sexual misconduct involving a minor, the efforts to defend against the allegations must be aggressive. Discussing the options for building a defense or working toward a plea bargain can be crucial for anyone in this particularly difficult situation.