On behalf of Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. posted in sex crimes on Friday, February 19, 2016.
Any time a child or an adult is the victim of a sexually-related crime, the media, law enforcement officers and the public can immediately turn against the person who is accused of committing the offense. Even though every person in the U.S. is innocent until proven guilty, it can be hard to remember this when everyone seems to have turned against you.
This can be especially true if you are in a position of authority in regard to the alleged victim. If you are in this situation, you need to appreciate the gravity of your situation. As an authority figure, you could be facing harsher penalties and consequences than other people if you are convicted of a sexual offense.
As specified in Florida sex offense statutes, a person who is in a position of authority over a student will face escalated charges for offenses.
This means that if the offense of which you stand accused is typically classified as a third degree felony, it will be reclassified as a second degree felony if you are an authority figure.
To be considered an authority figure, you will need to be a person who has some amount of power or control over a student. For instance, if you are a teacher, coach, school counselor or even a volunteer over the age of 18 at a facility meant for specifically for the education of children, then you could be considered an authority figure should one of the students accuse you of sexual misconduct.
Besides the criminal consequences of these allegations, you can also experience a devastating blow to your career and reputation if you are accused of a sex crime. You may not ever be able to find a job in your line of work again, whether you are convicted or not. If you are convicted, the restrictions on where you can and can’t work (and live) get even tighter.
Considering all that is at stake in these situations, it can be crucial that you consult an attorney if you have been accused of sexual misconduct involving a student. While it may not necessarily seem like it, you do have the right to defend yourself and you are innocent until proven guilty.