The mere allegation of committing a sex crime can turn your life upside down. Not only will you face potential criminal punishment, you must also endure intense public scrutiny and condemnation. These are serious charges that are prosecuted aggressively at the state and federal level. If convicted, you face a lengthy prison sentence, fines, and mandatory registration as a sex offender.
If you have been arrested or are under an investigation for any type of sex-related offense, it is critical that you immediately seek the legal counsel of a sex crimes defense attorney. A sex crime defense lawyer will conduct a thorough evaluation of the charges filed against you and craft an effective defense strategy on your behalf.
Don’t let feelings of shame or embarrassment prevent you from acquiring the defense you are entitled to. Strong legal representation can help you not only avoid incarceration and other harsh penalties but give you a fighting chance to preserve your reputation and clear your name.
Protect Your Rights
- Do not attempt to contact the alleged victim
- Do not provide a statement to the police or a prosecutor, or Child Protective Services without having an attorney present
- Do not submit to any form of testing (including DNA testing), without first consulting with an attorney
- Do not agree to any searches of your home or vehicle unless there is a search warrant
Types of Sex Crimes
Sex crimes encompass a wide range of sexual activities that rise to the level of illegal, improper sexual conduct.
Some of the most common types of sexual crimes include:
Indecent Exposure: purposefully exposing parts of the body in public or under inappropriate circumstances, including genital areas, the buttocks, and/or female breasts
Prostitution/Solicitation: exchanging sexual acts for money or other goods or services; soliciting sexual services from a prostitute
Sexual Battery/Assault: The act of forcing an unwanted sexual act upon another through coercion, physical force, and/or verbal threats
Rape: forcing sexual intercourse upon another without their consent and/or despite objection, through coercion or physical force
Statutory Rape: act of forcing sexual intercourse or engaging in sexual act with a person who is not of age, even with their consent
Internet sex crimes
- Online solicitation of a minor through the Internet
- Web cam offenses
- Luring a child through a chat room
- Attempted sexual contact with a child
- Internet stalking
Possession/Distribution of Child Pornography: possessing or distributing any images and/or videos involving a child engaging in sexually explicit acts
Evidence Collected in Sex Crime Cases
Even if evidence exists proving that a sexual act occurred, it still may be difficult for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the sexual conduct was not consensual at the time of the alleged offense.
Common types of evidence in sex cases includes
- DNA evidence, including bodily fluids such as blood, semen, or saliva;
- Hair follicles;
- Photographs of bruises, bleeding, or other injuries;
- Bite marks; or
- Clothing fibers.
Legal Consequences of a Sex Crime
A sex crime allegation or conviction can wreak havoc on every aspect of your life. More so than other crimes, the stigma of committing a sex crime can follow you forever. In the court of public opinion, you may be subject to the stereotypical view of “once a sex offender, always a sex offender”
Direct Criminal Consequences
- Time spent in state prison or county jail
- Fines and restitution
- Probation or parole supervision
- Ineligibility for certain occupations or jobs
- Protective order/ restraining order
- Sex offender counseling or treatment
- Sex offender registration
Indirect or “Collateral” Consequences
- Reputation damage
- Loss of employment or inability to find a respectable job
- Inability to find housing
- Destroyed relationships with family members and friends
Registration as a Sex Offender
Perhaps the most devastating and damaging consequence of a sex crime conviction is having to register as a sex offender. Every state has its own sex offender registry that includes the mug shots, home addresses, and registered vehicles of convicted sex offenders. Potential neighbors, employers, family and friends will all have access to this database.
Failure to register will result in additional criminal charges
How long you have to register for, and steps you need to take to get off the registry, varies by state. Some states such as California and South Carolina require registration for life.
Sex Crime Defense Strategies
There are a number of defense strategies a sex crimes attorney may employ to fight an allegation of sexual misconduct. Every case is different, and your attorney will devise a defense strategy that best fits the details of your situation.
Here are a few common defense strategies
False Accusations: The majority of sex crime allegations are based on hearsay or the word or testimony of the alleged victim. There are rarely eyewitnesses to corroborate the account of the incident. This sets up a he said/she said dynamic.
In many cases, the alleged victim is someone you know personally, a spouse/ex-spouse, friend, family member, or co-worker. An accusation of sexual misconduct may arise during a divorce or custody dispute in which your accuser wants to gain the upper hand or seek revenge. There are also instances in which the alleged victim may have lied about a consensual act to protect their own reputation.
A sex crime lawyer can uncover the true motives of the person accusing you of misconduct whether it be for money, vengeance, jealousy, or to deflect blame for something that they are in fact guilty or responsible for.
Mistaken Identity: if someone has mistaken you as a perpetrator in a sex crime, a sex crime attorney can present sufficient credible evidence to show that you were not with the victim when the crime occurred. This may involve testimony from an alibi.
Tainted Evidence/Coercion — In sexual cases involving children, such as molestation or statutory rape, the alleged victim may have been coerced into accusing you of wrongdoing. A parent, therapist, police officer, or teacher may ask a question in a suggestive manner such as, “He touched you here, didn’t he?” Many children just want to please the questioner while others build a false memory about an event that never happened.
Improper Police Conduct: Police must follow very specific protocols when conducting a sex crimes investigation and/or arrest. If there was “shoddy” police work or failure to adhere to proper procedures, any incriminating evidence intended to be used against you can be “suppressed” or thrown out.
For example, in child pornography cases, law enforcement will most likely attempt to confiscate all of your electronic devices, files, photos, hard drives, etc. to use as evidence. If these items were collected in violation of your 4th amendment rights — the right to be free from illegal search and seizures, the evidence would be inadmissible in court.
There was consent: If you have an honest and reasonable belief that your sexual encounter was consensual, your attorney may attempt to present evidence to show that the victim agreed to sexual contact. Consent is a defense often used when the accused and accuser have a history of previous sexual relations. Evidence such as sexual emails, phone calls, or text messages may be used.
Entrapment: if you were involved in a “sting” operation in which an undercover officer induced you to commit an illegal sexual act that you would never have committed otherwise, you may be a victim of entrapment. This defense often applies in prostitution and solicitation cases.