A sex crime is typically defined as a statutory offense of forcing, threatening, or somehow knowingly causing another person to engage in an unwanted sexual act. Sexual misconduct is another term associated with sex crimes. Certain sexual acts, though consensual in intention, are not considered consensual by the law; for example, if one of the persons consenting to the act is under the age of consent.
Sex crimes are most often state crimes, as opposed to federal crimes or violations of city or county ordinances. The legal penalties for being convicted of a sex crime are severe, and can include:
- Mandatory, lifelong sex offender registration
- Monetary fines
- Court-ordered rehabilitation
- Loss of the right to vote
- Loss of the right to own a deadly weapon
Even if you’re not convicted of a sex crime, the arrest for a sex-related matter and the mere allegation that you did something can damage your life forever. Family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers may forever see you as a sex offender.
Misdemeanors and Felonies
The spectrum of sex crimes ranges from minor misdemeanor offenses to violent felonies. Some sex crimes involve a specific individual, whereas others involve Internet use. Most states have laws against:
- Lewd acts in a public place
- Lewd/lascivious acts with a minor
- Indecent exposure
- Prostitution, solicitation
- Possession or distribution of child pornography or Internet child pornography
- Sexual battery
- Rape including forcible rape, statutory rape, date rape, and spousal rape
If you have been charged with a sex crime, your freedom, reputation, and livelihood may be in jeopardy. Police and prosecutors are very serious about sex crimes, and you’ll need someone on your side – a criminal defense attorney who is experienced in the specialized area of sex crimes.
Sex Felony Crimes
In general, a person convicted of a repeat federal sex offense in which the victim was a minor, will receive life in prison — unless the death penalty is applied. Many statutes, including Florida, state that the death penalty can apply if the sex crime is considered capital sexual battery: when a person over the age of 18 years damages the sexual organs of a minor below the age of 12 through sexual battery.
A person convicted of a sex crime may be listed as a sexual offender, sexual predator, or sexually violent predator — depending on the nature of the violation. There can be serious consequences for those with a sexual offense on their records with regard to employment, registering of new addresses, and tracking. Expect life-long monitoring if found guilty of a sex crime.
Penalties for sex felony crimes can be severe. A felony charge in the first degree can mean life imprisonment; a second-degree felony can mean 15 years in prison; and a third-degree felony can mean five years in prison. Sex Offender Treatment programs can require therapy, and even pharmacological interventions to reduce sexual response.
Some examples of sex crimes:
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Battery
- Sexual Battery on a Minor
- Sexual Exploitation
- Sadomasochistic Abuse
- Online Sexual Exploitation
- Lewd and Lascivious Conduct
- Date Rape
- Child Molestation
- Child Pornography
- Child Sexual Abuse
- Child Sex Trafficking
- Coercion of a Minor into Prostitution
- Aggravated Sexual Abuse
- Sexual Abuse Resulting in Death
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Indecency with a Child
- Failure to Register as a Sexual Predator
- Internet Solicitation
A Sex Crimes Attorney Can Make All the Difference
Your lawyer will scrutinize the statements and evidence from an accuser and witnesses if any. Your lawyer can re-interview the people involved and can arrange to have medical professionals, including a psychiatrist, contribute their expertise.
Sex crimes investigators and police are highly skilled at encouraging the accused person to talk – but don’t talk to the police without an attorney at your side. The police are not a neutral party. Don’t answer questions on the phone from police; sometimes they make “pretext calls” to ask you about “your side of the story” when someone has accused you of a sex crime. Police and prosecutors will use anything they can to implicate you.
Therapists & Law Enforcement
The same rule applies to talking to a therapist. Oftentimes, therapists are required by law to contact the police when they’ve heard something related to a sex crime from their client. Don’t make an admission to a therapist without consulting a criminal defense attorney first – avoid the serious repercussions, including sex offender registry, that can result from what you assumed would be a private consultation.
Law enforcement officers often overextend their authority in efforts to trap individuals that the police suspect of sex crimes. Your lawyer may be able to make a motion to dismiss your case based on entrapment or outrageous government behavior, whether you’ve been accused of soliciting an undercover prostitute, possessing Internet child pornography, or a multitude of other sex crimes.
Sex Crime Defense
Some of the most serious charges that a person can face are those for sex crimes. In addition to frequently carrying serious prison sentences, sex crimes carry an enormous social stigma that can permanently change the lives of those convicted (even wrongfully) of committing sex crimes. The sad truth is that, while sex crimes are an extremely serious matter, many people are falsely accused or are convicted of sex crimes that are archaic and prejudicial in nature. For these reasons, it is crucial that those accused of sex crimes take the charges very seriously and retain proper counsel as soon as possible.
The types of acts that are classified can vary by state, as can the likelihood that some of them will be prosecuted, and the potential sentence should persons be found guilty of sex crimes. Some people might be surprised by the acts that are or are not categorized under sex crimes. For instance rape, generally considered a crime against the person, is not always classified with other sex crimes. At the same time, fornication and adultery are considered misdemeanor sex crimes in some states, although they may not actually be prosecuted. Sodomy, incest, and bigamy are all typically considered sex crimes, although most states do not prosecute persons for sodomy if it occurs between two consenting adults in the privacy of a home. Laws concerning sex crimes such as bigamy and incest are often rife with technicalities that are specific to the state. One of the few sex crimes that is fairly universal in definition and punishment is prostitution.
Sentences for the commission of sex crimes may include a provision for registration on a list of known sex offenders after release from prison. Persons who are registered due to sex crimes are generally subjected to some form of monitoring and must verify their address. In some states, persons convicted of sex crimes must have the people in the surrounding area sign an acknowledgment that they are aware that a known sex offender is living in their neighborhood. A criminal history including sex crimes can also prevent individuals from getting work in certain sectors, such as child care or education.
The consequences of a sex crime conviction can be serious and far-reaching. If you or someone you love has been accused of sex crimes, you must take the charges very seriously. Attorneys who do not have experience representing sex crimes defendants may not have the background to appropriately structure the best possible defense while lawyers who concentrate on sex crimes defense may be able to help you understand how best to fight these charges.
Contact a Sex Crimes Attorney for Help
If you’re under investigation for a sex crime, or you’ve been arrested for or charged with a sex crime, or if you’re dealing with the long-term consequences of a sex crime, get the legal assistance you need by contacting a sex crimes attorney today.