Sex offenses include a myriad of criminal sexual behaviors, ranging from prostitution to rape. The penalties for a sex offense conviction can be serious and life-changing, but many defenses are available. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible allows the evidence to be evaluated and witnesses to be questioned soon after the event, providing the best opportunity for a successful defense.
Punishment for a sex offense can vary dramatically depending on the category of crime. A misdemeanor sex crime conviction (such as indecent exposure or patronizing prostitution) is punishable by less than a year of jail time, a fine, community service, counseling, or even probation. A felony, on the other hand, might be punished by a long prison term (up to a life sentence). Released sex felons must register as sex offenders. Multiple convictions typically lead to increasingly greater punishments.
Consent, if it can be proved, is a defense to many sex crimes. However, some people are not considered able to consent to sex under the law. For those individuals, even if they explicitly agree, their agreement is not legally valid. For example, minors, the mentally disabled, and unconscious or intoxicated people (even if they willingly became intoxicated) typically cannot provide valid consent. Statutory rape or date rape charges may result.
Every crime carries a stigma that is difficult to erase, but registration requirements make the sex offender stigma more tenacious than most. The Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act, a federal act, requires released sex offenders to register with law enforcement and further requires offenders convicted of crimes against children to verify their address to law enforcement annually. Offenders deemed to be sexually violent predators must verify their addresses more frequently. States that do not meet the requirements of the Act are subject to reduced federal funding. As a result, all states require some type of registration and most maintain a central registry of resident sex offenders. In most states, sex offenders are required to register their addresses, along with other identifying information, with their resident state's law enforcement agency. Most registration statutes also require offenders to re-register each time they change their residencies and may require verification of the offender's address.
False allegations are fairly common, especially in child sex abuse situations. If a child makes the allegations, an older person with a motive may have influenced them or the child may have based his accusation on an overactive imagination. Public awareness of child abuse has increased, and more reports of possible abuse are being made, but not all reports are substantiated. Also, even good-faith accusations may not be true, and false allegations may be made to harm the accused.
Any and all sex crimes carry serious and significant stigma however beyond the criminal punishment. You need good representation because this is an area of the law in which your freedom and good name are in serious jeopardy.