Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

What Are Jury Instructions During Trial For Unlawful Sexual Activity With Minors?


Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

The jury instructions during trial for unlawful sexual activity with minors involve 794.05 of the Florida Statutes. The state has to prove three elements, and if one were to ever look for unfair age discrimination, they will find it here. This is the government telling people who they can and cannot date. First of all, the state has to prove that the alleged victim was 16 or 17 years of age. In other words, the state has to prove that the alleged victim was old enough to give consent. However, this applies only if the defendant was less than 24 years of age, which is the second element that must be proven. The third element that the state must prove is that the defendant engaged in sexual activity with a minor whereby the sexual organ of the defendant or the victim penetrated or had union with the anus, vagina, or mouth of the other party. There is a problem with this. If a person were to ask 100 people to explain the law regarding having sex with a 17-year old, I bet that not a single person would be able to do so accurately. This takes us into another area beyond the scope of jury instructions, yet I think it is an important issue that must be addressed.

Our government legislators are out of control, and we do not have governance with consent of the governed, we have governance with the consent of the special, well-funded interests. One person with one dollar and one vote is no match for one person with $100 million and one vote; it is an unleveled playing field. This is a classic example of the government making arbitrary decisions. This is the only area of law in which there is a restriction that exists between the ages of 23 and 24. Our legal system is out of control, and this is one of the most unfair laws imaginable.

A person who is 23 years old can have sex with their girlfriend who is 16 years old, but that same person who turns 24 years old cannot have sex with that same person who turns 17 years old. If they did, it would be considered a crime. This makes no logical sense and is absolutely proof that we elect the dumbest bulbs we can possibly find to light up state government. There is only one lesser-included offense for this and none under category one. Under category two there is attempt. This instruction was adopted in 1998, and I call it the “Bible babblers in the bedroom” statute because instead of focusing on real problems in our great state, our legislature is concerned about people engaging in consensual sex.

Solving real problems requires time, effort, and money, and the hardest thing of all for politicians is logical thinking. It is likely quite clear that I am displeased with this particular set of jury instructions and this statute, and that’s because I think it is unconstitutionally discriminatory based on age. If I were the king of Florida, I would throw it out. If someone is charged with this, we will move heaven and earth to defend them, because in my view, they never should have been charged in the first place.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

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Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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