San Diego Sex Crimes Lawyer
Sex crimes have serious consequences that will effect a person long after the conclusion of the case. Presenting a defense at trial to a sex crime charge requires specialized knowledge of the law and the psychology of these unique cases. Our attorneys have experience with sex crime defense and will promptly investigate all evidence and witnesses involved to reveal weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
What is a Sex Crime?
Sex crimes may include activities that people are not aware of before they get caught. In today’s world, anything but explicit permission could be grounds for filing charges. Although the results of these cases vary widely depending on the location and circumstances, facing the allegations can be scary and overwhelming. At the Law Office of George Gedulin, we handle sex crime cases including:
- Child abuse – including molestation and pornography
- Rape – including date rape and statutory rape
- Statutory Rape
- Lewd conduct – including indecent exposure
- Sexual assault/battery – including deception, restraint, or medical circumstances
- Prostitution and Solicitation
- Pimping and Pandering
- Unlawful Sodomy or Penetration
The charge of sexual battery (often referred to as sexual assault) is brought under California Penal Code (PC) section 243.4 and a misdemeanor or a felony. While any criminal charge has serious consequences, a felony charge can be devastating. Your freedom, livelihood and rights are at stake. Sexual assault is quite different from a rape offense. The crime of sexual assault does not have to involve any sexual act and can come from allegations of sexual touching of any type.
Depending upon the facts and circumstances surrounding the event, the prosecutor can file the charges as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The prosecutor will likely pursue a felony conviction if the victim was fraudulently convinced to engage in the act, was unlawfully restrained, or suffering from a medical or mental disability. Also, if the victim was forced to masturbate or touch another person’s intimate parts then felony charges will likely apply.
What facts must the Prosecutor prove?
PC 243.4 prohibits the touching of another person’s intimate part(s) for sexual purposes for gratification, arousal, or abuse. To be convicted under PC 243.4, the prosecutor must prove the following three elements:
- that you touched the intimate part(s) of another person;
- that there was no consent or the consent was fraudulent; and
- that the touching was done for sexual gratification, arousal, or abuse.
Penalties and Punishments
Because PC 243.4 is a “wobbler” (can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony), the penalties and punishment can be complicated and severe. Depending upon whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony, you could face:
- maximum jail time up to 6 months;
- prison time of 2 to 4 years;
- fines of $2,000, up to $10,000;
- informal/summary probation;
- formal probation;
- order to attend one or more rehabilitation programs;
- registration as a sex offender; and/or
- complete community service.
What is Rape?
The crime of rape brings many emotional attachments that are unique to sex cases. The charge of rape in general refers to non-consensual sexual intercourse. More simply this means that a person forced the victim to have sex by force or threat of force. CA PC 261 gives the general outline of what acts are considered rape.
A police officer who uses their authority to force sex on a woman can be arrested and charged with rape. Similarly other professional’s in position of authority such as doctors or military leaders can be charged with rape if they use their authority to essentially take away the victim’s ability to consent.
Changes in Rape Definition
In 2015, the 80 year old definition of rape was changed to include, “both male and female victims and offenders, and reflects the various forms of sexual penetration understood to be rape, especially nonconsenting acts of sodomy, and sexual crimes with objects.” This has caused a spike in the number of reported rapes in San Diego County, or an increase of approximately 55% from the number that would have been reported from the legacy definition.
Consent is one of the most difficult and contention portions of a rape trial. A victim must often give testimony that they never gave consent to have sex with a defendant. A victim who was drunk or on drugs must make difficult statements in open court about their inability to consent because they were too intoxicated or unaware of their circumstances to understand what was being done to them.
This type of crime involves sexual intercourse with an individual under 18 years of age. Whether the crime is charged as a felony or misdemeanor depends on the difference in age between the victim and defendant. In the case where two teenagers are having sex a prosecutor can charge a 19 year old man with statutory rape for having sex with his 17 year old girlfriend. The more serious cases of statutory rape arise when the difference in age approaches five years. A man who is 21 years old having intercourse with a 16-year-old woman will likely be charged with a felony sex crime.
Defenses to Sex Crime Allegations
The most common defenses to a sex crime charge are:
- Consent: there cannot be sexual assualt or rape if the victim consents to the touching;
- Insufficient Evidence: to establish sexual battery or rape, there must be evidence of what is alleged—many times there simply is not enough evidence to establish the crime;
- False Accusation: the accusations must be true! Because it is difficult to prove, some people bring this accusation out of revenge, jealousy, or anger.
Making statements to police or investigators without an attorney is never a good idea. Especially with cases involving minors even the most innocent statements can be used to implicate a criminal act. It is important in all criminal cases to be proactive and seek experienced and aggressive counsel to represent your rights in court.
Many defendant’s first learn of sex crime allegations from a family member such as a brother or siblings significant other. Feelings of loyalty and wanting to keep the peace can lead to incriminating and extremely damaging statements that cannot be taken back. Taking stock of the accusations and deciding to speak with counsel before making any statements is always a good first step.
A sex crime defense investigation means dissecting the entire case and assembling all of the available evidence with a prompt investigation. Sex crimes involve gathering evidence and reports from multiple sources, witness statements and other evidence require intensive investigation to build a strong defense. It is crucial to investigate and interview every witness at earliest stages of the case. The goal is to reduce the potential penalties and long-term consequences of a sex crime offense. Investigations of sex crimes generally involve a SART (Sexual Abuse Response Team) exam that is done by a team of doctors and/or nurses. In rape cases, the major issue for the prosecution is whether the alleged victim consented to having sex with the accused.
Jury Selection in Sex Crime Cases
Sex crime trials take longer than many other criminal cases for many reasons. Jury selection is critical for any sex crime defense because ultimately the twelve people seated in the Jury box will decide on the issues of fact in the case. Jury selection involves days of questioning about jurors past life experiences, knowledge about the law of sex crimes and if they personally have experienced a sex crime. Understanding how a person’s past can effect their willingness to hear and understand every defense to a case is the difference between a guilty verdict and dismissal.
The possible outcome for your case depends on several factors including: prior criminal conviction, the type of charge, mitigating circumstances, your relationship with the victim, and their age.
A veteran sex crime attorney will spend weeks with experts on Jury selection in any serious sex crime trial. The jurors who will hear evidence and decide a verdict each come with their own prejudices and experiences. The history and past of each juror can be crucial to how a defense is received and understood. Juries in every case involving a sexual crime are going to be told a story by the prosecutor that makes the defendant seem immoral. The prosecution looks to destroy the character, and often good nature, of a defendant by painting them as a deviant and dangerous criminal. Legal counsel needs to create a different story based on truth and the person their defendant truly is.
Sexual Assault and Rape – What are the differences?
Attorney George Gedulin explains the distinction between the sex crimes of sexual assault and rape: “The prosecutor will always charge the most serious offense for which there is significant evidence. Where there is not physical evidence often victim statements or witness accounts are used as evidence that a crime was committed. Rape under the penal code requires actual penetration of the sexual orifice. This penetration can be with a sexual organ or by another foreign object. These are in fact two separate offenses. Sexual assault does not require an penetration of the vagina or anus. Sexual assault charges can be brought when there is any offensive or harmful touching of an intimate part of a persons body.”
Megan’s Law and Sex Offender Registration
California has required sex offenders to register with local law enforcement agencies since 1947. However, their whereabouts were not available to the public until the Child Molester Identification Line in July of 1995. In 1996, the information available was further expanded to the public by Megan’s Law, which came in response to the rape and murder of seven year old Megan Kanka. Since 2004, the public has been able to view all of this information online, but by law, registered sex offenders are not allowed to access the sex offender site. However, being labelled a “sex offender” can make everyday life a hardship, especially if the crime is as innocuous as public urination. Carrying a stigma for life can affect everything from employment opportunities to living arrangements. Being registered as a sex offender can cause irreparable damage and you should consult a sex crimes attorney right away.
Contact a Sex Crimes Lawyer in San Diego
An unfounded or unfair accusation carries a heavy stigma with it. The best way to protect your rights is to proactively address the situation. We conduct independent investigations using the latest technology and a team of expert witnesses to explore every aspect of a case to learning more about the accuser’s history. Let us help you get your life back on track by fighting aggressively on your behalf after sex crime charges. We are ready to begin working as soon as you call, so reach out to our team in San Diego today.
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