In a sense sex crime charges are fundamentally different from most other types of criminal charges, in that even if unfounded and unproven, they can result in a stigma that follows you for the rest of your life. While there is little that can be done about “courts of public opinion” and “social media juries,” avoiding the harsh legal penalties that often follow a conviction for such charges must be achieved. Below, the potential consequences of a conviction for a sex crime are discussed.
Severe Prison Sentences
In our society, there is no such thing as a “minor” sex crime. We tend to think of crimes in terms of severity. Just as embezzling millions of dollars is worse than shoplifting, some sexual offenses are more severe than others.
Unfortunately, most sex offense convictions carry severe punishments that can be disproportionate to the offense committed. Even a charge based on a romantic encounter between a consenting teen and young adult (depending on the age difference) can result in a jail sentence and lifetime registration.
If convicted for allegedly touching a child in a sexual manner, the maximum sentence can be over a decade of confinement. For acts involving sexual intercourse with a minor or acts involving force, the minimum sentence can be as much as 25 years of confinement depending upon state law. If a defendant is charged with multiple offenses or multiple counts of an offense, his or her sentence can be tantamount to a life sentence.
Mandatory sentences are predefined penalties that are established through legislature. This means that the sentencing judge does not possess the power to grant a lesser sentence than what is prescribed by mandatory sentencing law.
Due to the heinous nature of offenses involving forced sexual acts, or sexual acts involving children, many states have crafted laws that mandate judges to sentence defendants convicted of such crimes to mandatory minimum prison sentences, which can be life in prison.
Here is an example of such a requirement made by Virginia law for the crime of rape (§ 18.2-61(B)(2)):
“For a violation of clause (iii) of subsection A where it is alleged in the indictment that the offender was 18 years of age or older at the time of the offense, the punishment shall include a mandatory minimum term of confinement for life.”
Lifetime Registration as a Sex Offender
The most serious and permanent consequence of a sex crime conviction — even a minor one — can be lifetime registration as a sex offender. Once you are labeled as a “sex offender,” your name is made public for all to see. You will be required to report your whereabouts to authorities for the rest of your life and will impose a brand that you can never remove.
Sex offender registration can limit your ability to find housing and employment. This branding will identify you as a threat to children and adults everywhere and can cause you and your family immense harm. Unlike other crimes where you can start over after “doing your time,” registration stays with you for life.
In the minds of some people any person convicted of a sex crime, regardless of the circumstances, is a dangerous predator. Sexual charges often lead to job losses, inability to find new employment, estranged family relationships, loss of your children and divorce. Clearing your name is not merely a matter of protecting your freedom, but also your reputation.
Loss of the Ability to Appeal
Faced with the possibility of extended prison sentences, defendants can be lured into plea bargains based on the assumption that they will later be able to appeal their case or contest registration. Sometimes new evidence arises — sometimes even an admission by the accuser of a false charge — that would warrant a new trial.
Unfortunately, a plea bargain usually involves an admission of guilt that almost always waives your right for any future appeal. It is often far better to assert your defense at trial rather than to avoid the fight in the first place.
Contact Us Now
The above discussion is not meant to scare you, but instead is meant to make you aware of how much is at stake should you not receive a competent legal defense from the very outset of your case. If you would like a free consultation, call us at (800) 993-0632.