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 defense attorney 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’ve been charged with a sex crime in Chester County, contact us at (610) 436-1410 to set up a free, confidential consultation.
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.
(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.
(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.
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.
(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 for sexual assault if he or she engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a complainant without the complainant’s consent.
(Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 18 § 3122.1) – A person is guilty of a second-degree felony offense for statutory sexual assault 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.
(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.
(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.
(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 for indecent exposure or public lewdness.
(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.
(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.
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.
Chapter 31 of Title 18 in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes clarifies several definitions used in the related statutes.
Unless the statute specifically allows for enhanced sentences, Pennsylvania sex crimes are generally punished according to their felony or misdemeanor classification:
Up to one year in jail, and fines up to $2,000.
Up to two years in jail, and a max fine of $5,000.
Up to five years in jail, and fines reaching $10,000.
Up to seven years imprisonment, and a max fine of $15,000.
Up to 10 years in prison, and fines reaching $25,000.
Up to 20 years in prison, and maximum fines of $25,000.
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.
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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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:
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.
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.
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.”
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:
Only an experienced attorney can examine the details surrounding your case and provide you with accurate information about your legal options.
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 with a sex crime 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.