Sex crimes are extremely serious allegations. A conviction for a sex crime can lead to lifelong penalties and other consequences. The potential penalties for a conviction may include incarceration, high monetary fines, and mandatory registration on a state or federal sex offender registry. In addition, the court may preclude you from having any contact with your children.
In addition to these potential legal penalties upon conviction, an individual who is facing sex crime charges may have difficulty finding a place to live, getting a job, or going to the educational institution of their choice.
If you’re currently pending a sex crime charge, you must always seek a knowledgeable Sex Crimes Lawyer in Los Angeles immediately. A lawyer can safeguard your constitutional rights while your criminal case is pending and raise one or more legal defenses on your behalf when your case goes to court. Moreover, if you ultimately sustain a conviction, your lawyer can represent you before a sentencing judge at a hearing. Your lawyer can then argue for a reasonable and fair penalty on your behalf.
Given the severe nature of sex crime charges and the resulting penalties, you should not wait to seek skilled legal representation. The sooner you involve a criminal defense attorney to help you, the more likely you will achieve a favorable outcome in your case.
- Types of Sex Crimes
- What Are the Potential Penalties for a Sex Crime Conviction?
- Potential Legal Defenses to Sex Crime Charges
- How Can a Lawyer Defend Me Against a Sex Crime Charge?
- What Is a Plea Bargain in a Sex Crime Case, and Is One Available to Me?
- Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer about Your Sex Crime Charge Today
Types of Sex Crimes
Sex crime has a specific definition under California law. Sex crimes are any criminal offenses of a sexual nature. Depending upon the circumstances, some sex crimes are misdemeanors, while others are felonies.
Some of the most common sex crimes include:
- Statutory rape
- Sexual battery
- Oral copulation by force
- Lewd acts with a minor child—or child molestation
- Failing to register as a sex offender when a court has ordered you to do so
- Child sexual abuse
- Soliciting a prostitute
- Sexual assault
- Possessing child pornography
- Engaging in lewd conduct
- Indecent exposure
- Date rape
Convictions of any of these criminal offenses can lead to extremely serious penalties. Therefore, if you are facing charges for any of these crimes, you should never wait to reach out to a criminal defense attorney right away. Your lawyer can start advocating for you as soon as they enter an appearance on your behalf in the court system. Your lawyer can also ensure that all of your legal and constitutional rights remain protected while your case is pending.
What Are the Potential Penalties for a Sex Crime Conviction?
A sex crime charge and a sex crime conviction are two completely different things. Just because a state prosecutor charges an individual with a sex crime does not necessarily mean that the accused individual will ultimately sustain a conviction. A conviction is much more serious and can lead to various penalties.
For a state prosecutor handling your case to obtain a conviction against you on a sex crime charge, they must satisfy their legal burden of proof. This can be extremely difficult to do because state prosecutors must satisfy their legal burden beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest possible legal standard for a prosecutor to meet.
The prosecutor must introduce various types of evidence at trial to satisfy their legal burden. For example, they may introduce witness testimony in court, introduce documentary evidence, and cross-examine witnesses on the stand. If the judge or jury believes that the state prosecutor has satisfied their legal burden of proof, they will enter a guilty finding against the accused individual and/or convict them of the underlying sex offense.
Although the state prosecutor has to satisfy a legal burden of proof in a criminal sex crime case, the defendant—or the individual facing the criminal charge—does not have to prove anything in the case. In fact, because the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects accused individuals against self-incrimination, the accused person does not even need to take the witness stand and testify in their own defense at a criminal court trial. Moreover, if the accused individual is in police custody, they do not have to answer a police officer’s questions until an attorney is available.
If a police officer begins questioning the accused individual after they have already asserted their legal right to counsel, and the accused person says something incriminating in their case, the statement may be subject to suppression. At that point, a judge may legally exclude the statement from evidence.
Fifth Amendment considerations are one possible defense for an individual facing sex crime charges. However, if the prosecutor can satisfy their legal burden in the case, they may obtain a conviction against the accused individual. A sentencing judge can then impose various penalties according to state statutes.
Some of the most common penalties related to sex crime convictions include high monetary fines, jail time, probation, protective orders, bans on possessing firearms, and the inability to contact or spend time with children. A judge might also sentence a sex offender to register on a state or federal registry. The offender might also have to renew the registration every so often or face additional criminal charges.
In addition to the potential legal penalties that a sex offender may face upon conviction, the offender might also be looking at numerous collateral consequences that affect every aspect of their day-to-day life. For example, if the individual is trying to gain admission to an educational program, such as at a trade school, university, or college, they may have difficulty. This difficulty often comes when the school performs a criminal background check on the individual and the sex crime conviction surfaces.
In addition, a convicted sex offender may have trouble finding a decent place to live—or a good job. Again, because prospective landlords and employers perform online background checks on applicants, a sex crime conviction on the individual’s record will likely have negative consequences.
Finally, a convicted sex offender may not have permission to spend time with family members, including children or grandchildren. This is especially true if they are on probation for a sex offense. If the offender violates one or more terms of their probation, they might face a whole new set of criminal charges, convictions, and penalties.
Given the severity of the legal penalties and collateral consequences associated with a sex crime conviction, you do not want to leave the outcome of your case to chance. Therefore, you need legal representation in your case as early on in the process as possible.
A skilled sex crime defense attorney can meet with you to discuss the circumstances of your charge, the potential penalties, and the defenses you can raise in response to your charge. Your lawyer will then do everything possible to help you achieve the best possible case result.
Potential Legal Defenses to Sex Crime Charges
Individuals with a pending sex crime charge can often raise one or more legal defenses. The legal defenses you can raise in response to a serious criminal charge often depend on the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the incident itself.
Although the defendant in a sex crime case does not have to legally prove anything, they may be eligible to raise a legal defense in response to their charge. Legal defenses work to poke holes in the state prosecutor’s case and potentially prevent the prosecutor from satisfying one or more legal elements of the charge—beyond a reasonable doubt.
If the prosecutor cannot satisfy even one legal element of the sex crime charge, they should not obtain a conviction against you, and the judge may dismiss your entire case.
Some potential legal defenses to a sex crime charge include:
- That no sexual contact or conduct of any kind occurred
- That you reasonably and honestly believed that the alleged victim in the sex crime incident consented to sexual activity
- That you were somewhere else at the time of the alleged incident (alibi)
- That the prosecutor did not introduce sufficient evidence to prove the legal elements of the sex crime beyond a reasonable doubt
- That the alleged victim in the case falsely accused you of the sex crime, often out of retaliation or revenge (motive)
Keep in mind that you may not defend against the sex crimes by alleging that you were too intoxicated to understand what was happening at the time.
A knowledgeable sex crime defense attorney will let you know which of these defenses you may raise in response to your particular sex crime charge. They can then argue the appropriate defense on your behalf in court and work to negate one or more legal elements of the prosecution’s case. Your lawyer will do everything they possibly can to help you secure a complete dismissal of your sex crime charge in court.
How Can a Lawyer Defend Me Against a Sex Crime Charge?
A criminal defense lawyer can use several tactics to defend you against a pending sex crime charge. First, a defense lawyer might negotiate with law enforcement on your behalf by telling them your version of events. Sometimes, this step alone is sufficient for the police to drop their case. In addition to negotiating with the police, an attorney might undertake a private investigation into your sex crime charge.
In some instances, alleged victims misinterpret the circumstances surrounding the situation. They might also mistakenly identify you as the person who committed the sex crime against them. A criminal defense attorney can work with an investigator who can speak to witnesses and determine how the event actually occurred.
Next, a criminal defense attorney can file the necessary motions on your behalf before trial. For example, a lawyer might file a motion to suppress certain evidence if the state prosecutor or police officer did not obtain it legally. A skilled lawyer will understand the necessary pretrial motions and tactics that can help you obtain a complete dismissal of your sex crime charge.
What Is a Plea Bargain in a Sex Crime Case, and Is One Available to Me?
Individuals who are facing sex crime charges might negotiate a favorable plea deal with the state prosecutor through their defense lawyer. Defense attorneys often have favorable working relationships with state prosecutors—especially those who handle sex crime charges on a regular basis. Therefore, your defense attorney can secure a much better deal on your behalf than you might obtain on your own.
In essence, a plea deal is an arrangement where the individual facing the sex crime charge agrees to plead guilty to a particular crime in exchange for the state prosecutor making some concession.
For example, the prosecutor might reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor or offer the accused individual a term of supervised probation, which they will need to complete successfully. If the accused then completes their probation successfully, the conviction on their record may go away.
By accepting a plea deal and deciding not to go forward with a criminal jury or bench trial, the accused individual gives up several legal rights. First, they usually cannot appeal the result in their case. Moreover, they lose their constitutional right to a trial by jury. They must also state on the record that they agree to the plea deal willingly, freely, and voluntarily. The judge must then accept the accused individual’s guilty plea.
The right criminal defense attorney can advise you on whether it is a good idea to accept a particular plea deal, given the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. In any event, your lawyer can represent you at all in-court proceedings and help you make both intelligent and informed decisions in your case.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer about Your Sex Crime Charge Today
Without exception, all sex crime charges are extremely serious. If you’re currently facing a criminal charge for a sex offense, you should speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in California as quickly as possible. Your lawyer can review all of your options with you, represent you at all legal proceedings, and advocate for you at all times.