Being charged with a sex crime can be shocking and devastating to your future. Even if you are innocent, sometimes just the charges alone are enough to leave you feeling shunned from your community, your career could suffer and your family may feel shame and embarrassment. Depending on the severity of the allegations, the prosecuting attorney may charge you with a felony sex crime. Sex crimes based on less serious allegations (for example, indecent exposure) may be charged as a misdemeanor. As sex crimes are extremely serious and harshly punished, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as you are charged.
Types of Sex Crimes
While the specific details of various sex crimes will vary from state to state, here is a general overview of crimes that fall into the sex crimes category.:
- Internet pornography targeting minors: Child pornography is regarded as sexual exploitation of a child and is often severely punished. To be considered a crime, an adult must be aware that he or she is receiving, exchanging, storing or creating data that portrays a minor in a sexual context. The same goes for the distribution or advertisements of sexually explicit content that includes or depicts a minor.
- Rape: Rape occurs when an individual has sexual intercourse with another person against his or her will or without that person’s consent. There are also context-specific rape charges where the general definition might not apply. For example, statutory rape occurs when the victim is a minor, even if the minor consents to sexual intercourse. Spousal rape may be charged in some states where there is forced intercourse between a spouses.
- Lewd or Lascivious Acts: In general terms, lewd conduct occurs when a person commits an unlawful act with the purpose of arousing the sexual interest of another person or himself/herself. A common charge of lewd conduct results when a person exposes his or her genitals in public. Depending on the severity of the circumstances, lewd conduct may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. When children are involved, lewd conduct is likely to be charged as a felony. Lewd conduct charges often result from entrapment or sting operations.
- Prostitution, Pimping and Pandering: If an individual hires a prostitute, runs an establishment for prostitution, or even solicits the services of a prostitute, criminal charges may be brought. As with lewd conduct charges, prostitution-related charges can result from sting operations and entrapment.
Other sex crimes may include bestiality, bigamy and incest, although such charges are not commonly charged.
If you have been charged with a sex crime, it’s important to understand the particular elements of the state must prove beyond reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. It’s also important to understand lesser offenses that might be added later or used by the prosecutor in negotiating a plea agreement. To fully understand the charges, potential penalties and facts that can help you defend your case, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney.