The Un-romantic Side of Teacher-Student Relationships and the Recent Investigation that Will Affect Scrutiny of Them in the Future
Teacher-student relationships are often romanticized as a forbidden love story in books and movies. In reality, however, these relationships are usually illegal as the student has not yet reached an age where he or she can legally consent to the relationship. There is nothing romantic about the potential consequences as even a mere accusation of one can have lasting implications for both parties. And, as with any other type of over-enforcement, sometimes innocent people get caught in the process and have to fight false accusations.
What Recently Occurred that Will Probably Affect These Claims in the Future?
In light of recent developments, these kinds of crimes will probably face heightened scrutiny in the near future. The South Florida Sun Sentinel recently reported that following an investigation, it concluded that many serious crimes that take place on Florida school campuses – including those where teachers have sexual relations with students – are never reported to the state as required by law. The investigators found that schools have withheld information regarding incidents where teachers sexually abused students simply because they weren’t committed by students, an omission that violates state law. As investigators reported that a whopping one in five Florida schools, or 600 overall, have failed to report such incidents, there is no question that teacher-student relationships are about to be even more closely examined.
What Are the Potential Consequences Under Florida Law?
This type of relationship is legally considered to be statutory rape, which is prosecuted under Florida’s sexual battery and lewd and lascivious conduct laws. Penalties depend on the ages of the defendant and victim as well as the circumstances of the crime, but all carry the potential for felony charges, prison sentences, and/or fines. And in addition to prison sentences and fines, other consequences can include the loss of a teaching license and the requirement of registering as a sex offender.
Defending a Charge
Reasonable mistake is your best bet. While a sincere belief that an underaged student was eighteen may be supported by evidence, this cannot ordinarily be used to dispense a statutory rape charge. If in fact the student was at least eighteen and you reasonably believed he or she was no longer a student, a case involving a former biology teacher reported by the Miami Herald earlier this year indicates you may be able to continue teaching.
Are You Concerned That You May Face Charges for a Teacher-Student Relationship? Allow Us to Help.
An accusation of an inappropriate teacher-student relationship can have such substantial implications that you need to ensure you have the right sex crimes attorney on your side to help you do what it takes to successfully defend yourself and your reputation. It is critical that you reach out for help from a sex crimes attorney who can take control of your case as soon as possible. As a former prosecutor with extensive criminal experience on both sides of the legal system, Donald C. Barrett is the Tampa sex crimes attorney you need to help you clear your name. Schedule a consultation today.