An arrest for a sex-related criminal offense is never something to take lightly, even if the case surrounding you seems flimsy or weak. The direct consequences for a conviction can include lengthy jail time, steep fines, and counseling. However, it is the long-term stigma and appearance of the conviction on background checks that are often the most worrisome for people accused of these crimes.
A conviction for any one of the following offenses can also force you to register as a sex offender under Megan's law:
This website was created to provide you with important information regarding penalties, sentencing guidelines, and the Pennsylvania criminal justice system. However, it is not intended as legal advice. Only an experienced sex crime defense attorney in Pennsylvania can examine the unique details surrounding your case and provide you with information about your legal options. We do invite you to contact our Chester County, PA law office should you have any concerns or require legal assistance.
West Chester Sex Crime Defense Attorney
As a former Assistant District Attorney in Pennsylvania, Michael J. Skinner has a deep understanding of both the prosecution and defense of a criminal case. This insight is invaluable in anticipating and understanding weaknesses in the prosecution. If you are facing charges of sexual assault, contact Skinner Law Firm, LLC. Regardless of the circumstances of the offense, Michael J. Skinner can help defend your future, fighting for dismissed charges, not guilty verdicts, acquittals, and other favorable outcomes.
Call (267) 388-3476 or send an online message to schedule a free, confidential consultation with Michael J. Skinner. The initial consultation is your opportunity to get a better understanding of the Pennsylvania criminal justice system, defense options, and information for situations involving a false or exaggerated accusation of sexual assault. Skinner Law Firm represents clients throughout Chester County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, and Montgomery County in misdemeanor and felony sexual offenses.
Pennsylvania Sexual Crimes Information Center
Sexual Offenses in Pennsylvania
Rape (Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3121) – Under this statute, rape is a first degree felony offense. This includes situations where rape to the complainant was done through forcible compulsion, threat of forcible compulsion, where the complainant was impaired unable to appraise his or her situation, or if the complainant suffers from a mental disability which renters him or her unable to give consent. The penalties differ in situations of rape of a child and rape of a child resulting in serious bodily injury.
Statutory Sexual Assault (Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3122.1) – A person is guilty of a second degree felony offense when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant who is under the age of 16 and the person is 4 or more years older than the complainant. This does not include situations where the complainant and the accused are married to one another.
Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse (Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3123) – It is a first degree felony offense for a person to engage in deviate sexual intercourse with a complainant. This includes involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child resulting in serious bodily injury.
Sexual Assault (Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3124.1) – Unless otherwise defined in § 3121 or § 3123, a person can be found guilty of a second degree felony offense if he or she engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a complainant without the complainant's consent.
Aggravated Indecent Assault (Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3125) – Unless otherwise defined in § 3121, § 3122.1, § 3123, § 3124, a person is guilty of aggravated indecent assault if he or she engages in penetration of the genitals or anus of the complainant unless the person has a legitimate medical, hygienic, or law enforcement purpose. This is a first or second degree felony offense, depending on the situation and history of previous offenses of the accused.
Indecent Assault (Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3126) – A person is guilty of this offense if he or she engages in contact with the complainant that is indecent, causes the complainant to have indecent contact with the person, or intentionally causes the complainant to come into contact with seminal fluid, urine, or feces for the purpose of arousing sexual desire in the person or complainant. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense and repeat occurrence of the offense, this can be a second degree misdemeanor, first degree misdemeanor, or third degree felony.
Indecent Exposure (Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3126) – If a person reveals his or her genitals in a public setting or in a situation where the person knows that the act is likely to offend or alarm others, he or she can be found guilty of a first or second degree misdemeanor.
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Additional Penalties for Pennsylvania Sex Crimes
A person who engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant in which the accused has substantially reduced or impaired the complainant's power to appraise or control his conduct by administering or employing (without knowledge of the complainant), any substance for the purpose of preventing resistance through the substance's effect (i.e. euphoria, memory loss, etc.) may also face additional sentencing. This includes an added term of up to 10 years in prison and / or up to $100,000 in fines.
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Evidence Used in Cases of an Alleged Sexual Offense
The Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes does not allow the admission of certain types of evidence in cases of sexual offenses. This includes specific instances of the alleged victim's previous sexual conduct, opinion about the alleged victim's previous sexual conduct, and reputation of the alleged victim's past regarding sexual conduct.
However, defense can file a motion that the consent of the alleged victim is an issue and such evidence is relevant. If the court determines that the motion and offer of proof are sufficient, the court will order an on camera hearing and make on-record findings about the relevance and admissibility of said evidence.
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Defenses to Sexual Offenses under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3102
In situations where the criminality of conduct depends on a child being under 14 years old, it is not a valid defense that the defendant did not know the child's age or believed the child was 14 years or older. However, in situations where the criminality of the case depends on the child being older than 14 years, it depends on a preponderance of evidence that the accused reasonably believed the child to be above that age. That is, it means that it must be proved that it is "more than likely" rather than "beyond a reasonable doubt."
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Definitions Related to Sexual Offenses under Pennsylvania Statutes
Chapter 31 of Title 18 in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes clarifies several definitions used in the related statutes. In this chapter "complainant" means an alleged victim of a crime. "Deviate sexual intercourse" refers to penetration of the genitals or anus of another individual with a foreign object, regardless of the severity of the penetration. This does not include situations with a legitimate medical, hygienic or law enforcement purpose.
This chapter further defines "forcible compulsion" to mean compulsion through physical, intellectual, moral, emotional, or psychological force (express or implied). Forcible compulsion can result in the death of another person, regardless if the death occurred before, during, or after the act of sexual intercourse.
"Foreign object" includes any physical object that is not a part of the body of the individual accused.
"Indecent contact" refers to the touching of intimate or sexual parts of another person for the intent of arousing or gratifying sexual desire in either person.
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Megan's Law in Pennsylvania
This law is also known at the federal level as the Sexual Offender Act of 1994. Megan's Law serves by providing community notification and registration for sex offenders. It requires people convicted of sex crimes against children to alert local law enforcement of any changes to address or employment after release from prison or a psychiatric facility. Certain states have made modifications to the requirements, adding additional ones such as requiring the reporting of all sex crimes, not just those against children.
The Adam Walsh Child Protection Safety Act (known formally as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act) further modifies Megan's Law, adding new registration requirements and classification system of sex offenders divided into 3 tiers, based on their danger to the community. It also creates a national sex offender registry and instructs states to use identical criteria for posting information on the internet. Failure for sex offenders to update their information in the pre-designated periods is a felony.
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Sex Offender Registration in Pennsylvania
The details of what information must be provided to local law enforcement also vary by state. In Pennsylvania, this law was applies to individuals convicted of the following offenses or attempts to commit the following offenses:
- aggravated indecent assault;
- involuntary deviate sexual intercourse;
- kidnapping of a minor;
- indecent assault on a victim under 13 years old;
- promotion of prostitution with a victim that is a minor;
- obscene and other sexual materials;
- unlawful contact or communication with a minor; and
- sexual exploitation of children.
This also applies to individuals convicted of an equivalent offense in another state or federal court and the individual is currently a resident, student, or employed in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, or local law enforcement are responsible for administering Megan's Law. The agency collects information including aliases; identifying characteristics such as photo, fingerprints; notates identifying characteristics (i.e. scars and tattoos); social security number; date of birth; address and employment; race, gender, and ethnicity; offense history; and any documentation of treatment received for mental abnormality or personality disorder.
After release or parole from a correctional institution, psychiatric facility, or commencement of probation, the individual has 10 days to register after changing address. He or she must register within 10 days of moving to another state and within 10 days of moving into another state.
Failure to comply with the Megan's Law reporting requirement is a third degree felony offense for individuals subject to a 10 year reporting requirement. This is punishably by up to 7 years in prison and/or a fine up to $15,000, in addition to a new requirement for lifetime registration under Megan's law. For individuals subject to a lifetime registration period, failure to register under Megan's Law is a first degree felony offense, which can be punished by up to life in prison and/or a $50,000 fine, along with mandatory lifetime probation.
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Loss of Property Rights in Sex Crime Cases
There are certain instances in which an individual convicted of a serious sex crime can face the loss of property rights. This applies to crimes of rape, statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated assault and related offenses that resulted in the requirement of sex offender registration. The convicted person may be required to forfeit the rights to any property rights or assets that were used to implement or facilitation the commission of the sexual offense. This property can include computers, telephones, firearms, prescription drugs and controlled substances, motor vehicles, and anything else determined by the court.
Law enforcement officers may seize this property upon process issued by the court determined to have jurisdiction of the person or property. However, property may be seized without process if the seizure is incident to an arrest or search warrant and there is also probable cause to believe that the property is or was related to the charges for which the arrest or search warrant was issues. The property may be returned if it belonged to someone other than the sex offender who did not have knowledge or consent of the owner.
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Sex Crimes Resources in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania: Megan's Law Website – This website, maintained by the Pennsylvania State Police, was created to help law enforcement officers of the state make information available to the public regarding local registered sex offenders. This information includes a name, photo, offender type, nature of the crime, identifying characteristics and registration start date.
Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ASTSA) – The ASTSA was established in the 1970s and has evolved into a multi-national organization dedicated to preventing sexual abuse. This tremendous task is done through promoting dialogue, providing knowledge, affecting public policy, which helps lead to the effective assessment, treatment and management of individuals who have sexually abused or are at risk of sexually abusing another person.
Klaas Kids Foundation – This foundation was established in the memory of the founder's daughter, a victim of a deadly sex crime. The mission of the foundation is to stop sex crimes against children. In an impressive show of public support, the initial $2,000 investment into the foundation has been supplemented substantially. This funding allows the organization to develop partnerships with the community, work with law enforcement officers, and lobby legislators to create initiatives for the safety of the nation's children.
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Skinner Law Firm, LLC | Sex Crime Defense Lawyer in Chester County, PA
If you have been charged with sex crime in West Chester, Coatesville, Chester, Norristown, Phoenixville, Pottstown or the surrounding communities, it's important to seek legal assistance immediately. Call (267) 388-3476 to begin exploring all of your legal defense options with Chester County defense lawyer Michael J. Skinner. With what you stand to potentially lose if convicted, you should not leave yourself unprotected. Contact Skinner Law Firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation.