West Chester

Sex Crimes Attorney

Sex crime allegations in Pennsylvania need to be addressed quickly and properly from the beginning. These charges can destroy lives as accusations can be hard to recover from. The penalties include long prison sentences and possible mandatory registration as a sex offender. Do not wait, hoping an accusation will go away or try to explain things yourself. Consult an experienced sex crime lawyer today.

As a former Assistant District Attorney in Chester County, Michael J. Skinner has a deep understanding of both the prosecution and defense side of a criminal case. This insight is invaluable in anticipating and understanding the weaknesses in sex offense cases. Regardless of the circumstances, criminal defense attorney Michael J. Skinner can help defend your future and fight for a dismissal, a not guilty verdict, and other favorable outcomes to get you past this difficult time.

At Skinner Law Firm, we know what’s at stake in sex crime cases. We’ll do everything in our power to explain your options and how to deal with false or exaggerated accusations. If you’re charged with a sex crime in Chester County, contact us at (610) 436-1410 to set up a free, confidential consultation.

Pennsylvania Sex Crimes & Laws

An arrest for a sex-related offense is never something to take lightly. These charges range in severity from felonies to misdemeanors and the direct, as well as indirect consequences of a conviction, can be life-altering. These cases are also aggressively pursued by law enforcement and prosecutors, so your best option is to seek early intervention from an equally aggressive sex crime defense lawyer.

If you are charged with an offense described below or any other sex crime, contact us today.

Rape


(Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3121) Rape is a first-degree felony. This includes situations where a rape 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 renders 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.

Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse


(Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3123) It is a first-degree felony to perform deviate sexual intercourse on a victim through force; by threatening force; when the victim is unconscious; when you have substantially impaired the victim’s control with alcohol or drugs; when the victim suffers from a mental disability that makes them unable to consent. This includes involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child resulting in serious bodily injury.

Revenge Porn


The Unlawful dissemination of intimate image is defined under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3131. The law prohibits anyone from disseminating a visual depiction of a current or former sexual or intimate partner in a state of nudity or engaged in sexual conduct, without their consent, with the intent to harass, annoy or alarm that person. If the party depicted is a minor, the offense is considered a First-Degree Misdemeanor. If the party is not a minor, then it is a Second-Degree Misdemeanor.

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.

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.

Institutional Sexual Assault


(Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3124.2) – This charge refers to institutional employees or agents engaging in sexual acts or indecent contact with an inmate, resident, patient or detainee of a facility under their supervision or control. This includes school employees, youth volunteers, and juvenile detention and Department of Correction authorities. Institutional Sexual Assault is typically charged as a Third-Degree felony.

Indecent Assault & Aggravated Indecent Assault


(Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3126 and 18 § 3125) – A person is guilty of indecent assault if he or she engages in contact that intentionally causes the complainant to come into contact with seminal fluid, urine, or feces for the purpose of arousing sexual desire. Depending on the circumstances, this can be a second-degree misdemeanor, first-degree misdemeanor, or third-degree felony.

Aggravated indecent assault refers to the 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 Exposure & Public Lewdness


(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.

Prostitution

(Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 §5902) The Commonwealth prohibits sexual activity performed as a business. A person commits the offense of patronizing prostitutes if the individual hires another person to engage in sexual activity. Prostitution-related offenses are typically misdemeanors with the classification and penalties increasing for repeated offenders.

Online Solicitation

(Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 6318) – Also referred to as Unlawful Contact with a Minor, it is illegal to communicate with minors online for the purpose of engaging in sex acts. You do not have to make real-life contact to face third-degree felony charges.

Failure to Register as a Sex Offender


Previously convicted sex offenders are often required to register as a sex offender with local law enforcement. The exact criteria for registration can vary, but failure to comply in Pennsylvania is charged as a new criminal offense with typically felony penalties dependent on the underlying offense.

our awards & memberships

  • A professional non-profit dedicated to the improvement of the criminal defense bar, and to providing valuable information to the public about drunk driving laws. Members of the NCDD are considered the most experienced DUI defense attorneys in the United States and Canada.

  • The preeminent organization in the United States. NACDL serves as a leader in identifying and reforming flaws in the criminal justice system, and addressing systemic racism, and ensuring that the criminal defense bar is fully equipped to serve all accused persons at the highest level.

  • PACDL is the premier network of the best defense attorneys in PA with a mission to educate, advocate, and inspire by providing support for criminal defense lawyers, promoting effective competence, leveling the playing field, and protecting freedoms.

  • The Pennsylvania Bar Association promotes and protects the legal profession, the rights of Pennsylvania citizens and access to justice for all. Membership is open to any lawyer in good standing who is licensed by the Bar of Pennsylvania.

  • The American Bar Association is one of the world’s largest voluntary professional organizations, with over 400,000 members and more than 3,500 entities. Their mission is to serve its members, the legal profession, and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession.

  • The CCBA promotes professionalism, inclusion, and collegiality within the Chester County legal profession, and enhances the quality of life of its members and the practice of law within the community.

  • The NORML Legal Committee (NLC) is composed of attorneys committed to the overall goals of NORML. NLC attorneys meet each year to discuss emerging legal issues related to defense of marijuana consumers and to support each other in the pursuit of justice.

  • The American Institute’s Criminal Law Division is an impartial third-party rating service recognizing the excellence of fellow practitioners. To help clients across the United States make educated decisions, we compile an exclusive list of the “10 Best” Attorneys for each State. Our “10 Best” is a prestigious honor extended only to those who have reached the top of their profession while doing so with the client’s satisfaction being of paramount importance.

  • The American Institute’s DUI/DWI Division recognizes the excellence of practitioners in the field of DUI/DWI defense. We compile an exclusive list of the “10 Best” Attorneys for each State for potential clients to utilize. We look for Attorneys that have achieved unparalleled success but most importantly have done so for the benefit of their client. Very few Attorneys can do so and our organization recognizes this significant achievement.

  • Attorney Michael Skinner has been consistently recognized as among the best lawyers in Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties. Attorneys are nominated via peer balloting, then vetted through our editorial process in various fields of practice.

  • The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state. Membership is extended only to the most qualified attorneys who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile. Each of our distinguished members possesses the knowledge, skill, experience, and success held by only the best and finest lawyers in America.

  • The Super Lawyers list recognizes no more than 5 percent of attorneys in each state. The Rising Stars further distinguishes no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys, and to be eligible, a Rising Stars candidate must be either 40 years old or younger, or in practice for 10 years or less who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Sex Crime Definitions

Chapter 31 of Title 18 in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes clarifies several definitions used in the related statutes.

  • The “complainant” is an alleged victim of a crime.
  • Deviate sexual intercourse” is 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.
  • Forcible compulsion” is 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.
  • A “Foreign object” includes any physical object that is not a part of the body of the individual accused.
  • Indecent contact” is the touching of intimate or sexual parts of another person for the intent of arousing or gratifying sexual desire in either person.

Sex Crime Penalties

Unless the statute specifically allows for enhanced sentences, Pennsylvania sex crimes are generally punished according to their felony or misdemeanor classification:

Third-degree misdemeanor

Up to one year in jail, and fines up to $2,000.

Second-degree misdemeanor

Up to two years in jail, and a max fine of $5,000.

First-degree misdemeanor

Up to five years in jail, and fines reaching $10,000.

Third-degree felony

Up to seven years imprisonment, and a max fine of $15,000.

Second-degree felony

Up to 10 years in prison, and fines reaching $25,000.

First-degree felony

Up to 20 years in prison, and maximum fines of $25,000.

Aggravating Factors in Sex Crimes

When certain factors exist in your case, a sex crime can result in even harsher penalties, like if the alleged act caused serious bodily injury or a weapon was used.

Additionally, a person who engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant and the accused substantially reduced or impaired the complainant’s power to appraise or control their 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.

Lost Property Rights for Sex Offenders

There are also instances in which an individual convicted of a serious sex crime can lose their 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 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 according to 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 issued. 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 Offender Registration

As previously stated, being convicted of certain sex crimes may require registration as a sex offender. In Pennsylvania, sex offenders are classified into tiers based on factors like severity and their criminal history. The tiering of a sex offense into Tier I, II, or III will dictate the duration of mandatory registration and details related to the information you must regularly provide law enforcement.

Pennsylvania requires sex offender registration for individuals convicted of the following offenses or attempts to commit:

  • Rape;
  • Aggravated indecent assault;
  • Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse;
  • Kidnapping of a minor;
  • Indecent assault on a victim under 13 years old;
  • Incest;
  • 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 and collecting information like 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 an address. He or she must register within 10 days of moving to another state and within 10 days of moving into another state.

Evidence in Sex Crime Cases

The Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes does not allow the admission of certain types of evidence in sexual offense cases. 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, an experienced sex crime lawyer can file a motion outlining 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 of the relevance and admissibility of said evidence.

For those facing sex crime cases, an aggressive and well-designed pre-trial motion practice can make the difference in what can and cannot be used in trial. By limiting inappropriate evidence, a defense attorney can apply leverage on the prosecution and negotiate for a reduction in the charges and sometimes a complete dismissal.

Questions Regarding a Victims Age

When the criminality of conduct depends on a child being under 14, 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 the 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.”

Defending Against Sexual Allegations

Being arrested or even accused of a sex crime can be devastating and people often, incorrectly assume that nothing can be done to help. After all, how do you prove something illicit did not occur or reveal a claim to be false.

Your first step should be to contact a skilled and experienced sex crime attorney, who can build an effective defense based on your unique situation.

Some legal defenses to sex crime charges are:

  • Establish Consent
  • Attack the Elements of the Charge
  • Demonstrate Mistaken Identity
  • Challenge the Evidence Against You
  • Reveal Motives & False Claims

Only an experienced attorney can examine the details surrounding your case and provide you with accurate information about your legal options.

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 (ATSA) – The ATSA 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.

Contact a Chester County Sex Crime Lawyer

You likely only have one chance to successfully defend yourself against a sexual allegation and early intervention from the right attorney is essential. This is often the difference in whether formal arrests are made and how cases progress.

With our record of dismissals and acquittals in sex crime cases, if you have been charged in West Chester, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, Oxford, Coatesville, or anywhere in Chester County, PA, contact Skinner Law Firm immediately.

As a former prosecutor, attorney Skinner knows how sex crime cases are built what evidence will be persuasive. Let us defend you and explore every avenue to protect your future.

Call (610) 436-1410 for a free and confidential consultation.