Defending sex crime charges – Being charged with any crime is stressful and problematic, but not all allegations — and not all criminal consequences — are created equal. One of the worst categories of crimes to be charged with is sex crimes. Sex crimes come in a wide variety of misdemeanor and felony levels, but it is important to have competent and zealous defense no matter what the crime is.
Defending a sex crime is somewhat different than defending some other crimes due to some differences in consequences, and some restrictions regarding what the defendant can enter into evidence. In this blog, we will discuss defending sex crimes. Like all our blogs, this is intended for general informational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney.
Consequences of being charged with or convicted of a sex crime
Like all criminal charges, sex crimes include the legal presumption of innocence that the government can only overcome if you plead guilty or the government can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of every element of the charged crime. Sex crimes, however, are different when it comes to how you will be viewed by society in general. The stigma of being charged with sex crimes even prior to conviction or after an acquittal can have some lasting consequences. Because of this, if you are fortunate enough to get a dismissal or to be found not guilty, it is imperative that you get an expunction if possible.
Convictions of sex crimes are even worse. Most sex crime convictions come with serious collateral consequences, such as sex offender registry. This is separate and apart from the punishment imposed according to the misdemeanor sentencing, felony sentencing, and federal sentencing guidelines.
What defenses are available to me if I am charged with a sex crime?
Hiring a criminal defense attorney for a sex crime is imperative. The strength of your defense is going to depend on how much evidence the government has against you, along with what facts and allegations are present in the discovery. In some cases, a criminal trial is the best option, but sometimes your best hope is for a plea bargain.
Issues that may be litigated in trial include but are not limited to:
- Whether the alleged allegations occurred;
- Whether or not there was consent**; and
- When or in what manner the alleged conduct occurred.
**Please note that some sex crimes are strict liability crimes, where consent or lack of knowledge is not an issue.
Issues that may be resolved through a plea arraignment include but are not limited to:
- Some more serious charges being charged;
- Pleading to something that does not require sex offender registry; and
- Pleading to a crime that is not a sex crime at all.
What defenses are not available to me if I am charged with a sex crime?
If you are in trial for a sex crime, there is very little “victim blaming” that is prudent and or allowed. Specifically, the defendant will typically be prohibited from submitting evidence regarding the victim’s sexual history. Rape shield laws prevent this. Additionally, making any assertions that “the victim was asking for it” is a repugnant strategy that will surely be seen as such by the jury. Victim blaming tends to have a bad outcome for the defendant.
If you have been charged with a sex crime, contact an attorney immediately. At Gilles Law, we handle sex crimes in North Carolina and South Carolina.