Sex crime charges are fundamentally different from most other types of criminal charges. Sexual charges, even if unfounded and unproven, can result in a stigma that follows you for the rest of your life. Actual penalties vary widely from as little as under a year of jail time and community service to lifelong prison sentences.
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.
The mere allegation of a sex offense can label you as a dangerous predator in the minds of others. 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 Ability to Appeal
Many defendants are lured into plea bargains based on the assumption that they will later be able to appeal their case or contest registration. Often, new evidence arises — sometimes even an admission by the accuser of a false charge — that would warrant a new trial.
Unfortunately, a plea bargain 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. Based on our experience, most competently prepared cases will increase your chance of an acquittal.
Severe, Disproportionate Penalties
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 are simply disproportionate to the offense committed. To make matters worse, sex crime charges are very easy to make and even easier for juries to believe. They often involve little more evidence than the word of the accuser. Even a charge based on a romantic encounter between consenting teens (depending on the age difference) can result in a jail sentence and lifetime registration.
Do not be tricked into accepting a plea bargain for an offense that you are told is “minor” in order to avoid defending yourself against more serious changes. These “minor” convictions usually result in lifelong consequences that you will come to regret.
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If you would like a free consultation, call us at (800) 993-0632.