Sex Crime Defenses
In rape cases, consent is the most common defense; that a sexual encounter was consensual. In child molestation cases, the most common defense or theory of defense is that the child is lying, exaggerating or was improperly influenced by adults around the child. Of course anyone accused of any type of sex crime is entitled to the presumption of innocence and to have their case proven to a jury unanimously beyond a reasonable doubt. I’ve been defending people accused of sex crimes for nearly 16 years and never cast judgment on my clients.
How Often Do You See People Retract Sex Crime Allegations During an Ongoing Case?
Ultimately, the district attorney has the ultimate say as to whether or not a case is pursued. It’s not uncommon for the alleged victim of a sex crime to become reluctant to testify or to even change their story. The DA will evaluate those cases one at a time to decide whether or not to press forward, and they may decide to press forward even with an uncooperative alleged victim.
What Are the Potential Penalties for a Sex Crime Conviction?
The penalties depend on the seriousness of the offense and can range widely; you could end up in a local county jail for a misdemeanor, or get sex offender treatment, formal supervised probation, or even state prison for up to life without the possibility of parole. For some serious sex offenses you can be subject to a commitment for life as a sexually violent predator and, of course, for certain sexual offenses, you can be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life.
People convicted of certain sexual offenses are required to register with their local law enforcement agency for the rest of their life. You can be required to register for some misdemeanor sex offenses and for every felony sexual offense. Also, in California, Megan’s Law allows the public to view information on sex offenders who are required to register with local law enforcement.
Juveniles can be required to register if they’re convicted of a sex crime, but it will only be publicly disclosed on the Internet if they were sentenced to the Department of Juvenile Justice; if their case was adjudicated locally, it won’t be publicly disclosed.
Is it Possible to be Removed from the Sex Offender Registry or Have a Conviction Expunged?
Some minor sexual offenses that are in the undisclosed category of the sex offense registry can be relieved from the lifetime duty to register, if they obtain a certificate of rehabilitation. You can apply for a certificate of rehabilitation in seven to ten years after you’re released from custody, depending on the offense.
Expungement is possible if you were not sentenced to prison. However, after you successfully complete probation, you can apply to have the case expunged, which means dismissed and not on your record, although that does not relieve you from the requirement to register as a sex offender.
Can a Public Defender or Self-Representation Help Me in Defending a Sex Crime?
You should never ever represent yourself in any court proceeding, but especially a sex crime. If you can either afford or borrow the money to hire a private attorney, you should do it; otherwise, you should accept the court-appointed attorney or a public defender rather than represent yourself.