When is Sexual Harassment a Crime in Florida?
Thanks to the media and multiple movements across the country, sexual harassment has garnered a lot of attention and awareness in recent years. Sexual harassment is largely misunderstood though, as it is usually a civil matter, particularly when it happens in the workplace. So, when is sexual harassment a crime in Florida?
What is Sexual Harassment in Florida?
Currently, the Florida Statutes do not outline any criminal offense known as ‘sexual harassment.’ That may change in coming years, as legislators continue to raise the issue, but these bills often die in committees or subcommittees, or they are withdrawn. Sexual harassment involves unwelcome sexual attention, which can include unwanted comments of a sexual nature, or physical touching.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on a person’s gender and clearly refers to sex discrimination as unwelcome sexual advances, whether they are physical or verbal. The federal law does not, however, make sexual harassment in the workplace a crime. Instead, it allows for a civil action when an employer has been told about the sexual harassment and has not prevented it from happening.
Sexual Harassment, Battery, and Assault
While sexual harassment is often a case for the civil courts, particularly when it occurs in the workplace, there are times a person may face criminal charges. For example, if the harassment involved unwanted touching of a person’s breasts or buttocks, that could constitute sexual battery. Depending on the facts of the case, sexual battery can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony.
A person may also be charged with the criminal offense of stalking if they continually use verbal sexual innuendo, including comments on social media. Under this Florida Statute, it is against the law to willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follow or harass another person. In most cases, stalking is considered a misdemeanor but if physical threats are made, the charge may be elevated to a felony offense.
Defending Against the Offense of Harassment, Battery, and Assault
The fact that so much awareness has been raised regarding sexual harassment, assault, and battery over recent years is good news for the brave victims that come forward. Unfortunately, people sometimes maliciously accuse others of these offenses, even when no crime has taken place. For this reason, it is crucial that you speak to a criminal defense lawyer any time someone accuses you of these types of crimes. The sooner you can get started on your defense, the better you can protect your reputation, your job, and your freedom.
Call Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Orlando Today
If you have been accused of any sexual offense, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer at O’Mara Law Group can help. Our skilled attorney has a proven track record of aggressively defending the rights of those accused of misdemeanor and felony charges, and we want to put our experience to work for you. Call us today at 407-634-6604 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and to learn more about your legal options.