The famous case of Florida teacher, Debra LaFave, is back in the news these days as she appeals to the court to be released from probation. In 2005, LaFave was sentenced to ten years in prison for having sex with a 14-year-old student. In August of this year, the case once again drew nationwide attention to the issue of relationships between adults and teenagers. Soon, this scandalous saga could be ending for Ms. LaFave, but the need to protect children from predatory adults continues.

Teachers are not always culpable for having relationships with students, as Floridians saw this past May when a 29-year-old teacher’s affair with an 18-year-old student was publicly exposed.  In this case, the student was not a minor and the teacher faced no charges. Had Ms. LaFave’s victim been just two years older, even she could have walked away scot-free since she was only 23 when the affair took place.

One of the issues that parents may face occurs when their teen brings home an older boyfriend or girlfriend. Florida’s age of consent laws are complicated, and parents should be aware of their options in protecting their children. The first thing to know is that in Florida, the age of consent is 16 unless the other party is over the age of 24.  This means that an affair between a 25-year-old and a 16-year-old is against the law. But sexual activity between a 23-year-old and a 16-year-old may be lawful. Consequentially, if your 17-year-old becomes involved with a 20-year-old there is no crime being committed if they are having consensual sex.

It can be distressing to see your child involved with an older individual. Gaining an understanding of these laws by speaking with an experienced sex crimes lawyer can help you decide the best way to address such a situation.  Conversely, if your child is having relations with a younger person, it is important to know whether it is legal or not.

An easy rule of thumb is that no one under 16 is deemed to have consented to any sexual conduct.

However, 16 or 17 year olds can consent to anyone under 24.