Sex offenses carry some of the most severe and potentially damaging penalties of any crime – including possible life imprisonment. These cases are highly driven by facts and too often there are no available witnesses other than the alleged victim and the defendant. If you are facing charges for a sex offense, including inappropriate touching, sexual battery or rape, you should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can help you better understand not only the procedural aspects of a sex offense case, but the legal ramifications of a guilty plea versus a not-guilty plea and subsequent trial.
Distinguishing Between the Various Sex Crimes
When it comes to sex crimes, there are highly specific factors that differentiate one offense from another. These may include: the age of the victim, use of force or weapon and the relationship between the parties. The most common sex crimes are described below:
- Offensive Touching: This crime involves intentionally touching another person either with a body part or instrument, knowing the touch would likely alarm or cause offense to the person. This crime does not involve penetration and is generally considered a misdemeanor.
- Unlawful Sexual Contact: This crime is usually divided into degrees or by a felony and misdemeanor designation. It is similar to offensive touching, but specifically addresses touches of a sexual nature. Aggravating factors include the age difference between the victim and perpetrator, whether force was involved or use of a deadly weapon;
- Rape: Rape differs from sexual contact in that the act must involve sexual intercourse or penetration between the victim and the perpetrator. Similar to unlawful sexual contact, rape is often classified according to degrees, which differ depending on the presence of certain aggravating factors. Statutory rape occurs when the victim is younger than the lawful age to consent to sexual intercourse. Other factors include whether the perpetrator was in a position of trust over or significantly older than the victim. Rape which carries the highest penalty often involves extreme violence, deadly weapons, severe bodily injury or an exceptionally young victim.
Defenses to Sex Crimes
By working with a criminal defense attorney, you can introduce certain defenses to sex crimes to either lessen your culpability or avoid prosecution altogether. The defense of consent is often invoked and requires a showing that, with regard to the particular sex act in question, the alleged victim actually consented to the sexual interaction. If the prosecution is alleging certain aggravating factors to enhance your potential penalties, you may be able to introduce evidence to rebut the presence of these factors, which could result in a successful guilty plea to a lesser crime.
If you are facing a sex crime, you could potentially endure serious, life-changing consequences. To protect your rights and ensure your continued freedom, you need a compassionate, confidential, and aggressive advocate in your corner to combat the prosecutor’s allegations and help protect you from incarceration, penalties, and mandatory registration as a sex offender. Contact our knowledgeable criminal defense law firm today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case and learn more about your options.