Sex crimes are any misdemeanors or felonies that are sexual in nature. Traditional sex crimes include rape, sexual assault, child molestation, sexual battery, lewd acts, indecent exposure, etc. In the recent past, due to the proliferation of the internet, jurisdictions have added possession of child porn in digital form into the mix. Due to the taboo associated with sex crimes, the punishment for breaking them is two-fold, one dealing with the actual punishment by the criminal justice system and the other dealing with the societal judgment associated with it. Indeed, being charged with a sex crime alone is enough to leave you feeling shunned from society and labeled a “sexual predator” by other people, even if you are eventually proven innocent. Being convicted of a sex crime could irreparably damage your reputation, your relationship with your family, your career opportunities and even your ability to live in certain neighborhoods.
Depending on the severity of the allegations, the prosecutor may charge with either a felony or a misdemeanor. If proven guilty, you may face incarceration, fines and mandatory enrollment into the sex-offender’s database. 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.:
- Possession of child pornography: 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. The FBI created an unit that specializes in catching people viewing child pornography.
- 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: Lewd or lascivious 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.
- 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. It’s common practice in police vice units to lunch sting operations to catch people for prostitution.
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 which 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, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.