For the last year, many of the most sensational headlines in the media have revolved around sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations. From the entertainment industry (e.g., Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein) to politics (e.g., President Donald Trump and Judge Brett Kavanaugh), victims are now feeling more empowered to come forward to tell their stories and to hopefully change how our society views these all too common incidents. Many individuals may realize the errors of their ways, while others are fearful that they might be next -- even if they don't feel they've done anything legally or morally wrong. False accusations do happen, though they comprise only a small percentage of police reports. And what you may have considered a consensual encounter at one time may turn out to be murkier than you realized. In the era of #MeToo, it's important for both men and women to understand what may happen if they are charged with a sex crime.
There are numerous charges that can fall under the sex crimes category.
In California, any misdemeanor or felony criminal incident that's sexual in nature may be considered a sex crime. This means indecent exposure, lewd conduct, rape (including statutory rape and date rape), prostitution and solicitation, sexual battery, sexual abuse of or lewd acts with a child, possession of child pornography, or even the failure to register as a sex offender are all considered sex crimes. Because there's such a wide range, it's essential to contact a sex crimes defense lawyer with experience in the type of crime with which you've been charged.
Possible punishments for convictions (and even mere arrests) can be harsh.
Sex crime charges are taken seriously in California. If you're charged with a sex crime and are subsequently convicted, you may face steep fines, jail or prison time, firearms possession bans, and required sex offender registration. In fact, California was the first state in the nation to require the registration of sex offenders -- a practice which can be traced back to 1947. In many cases, this registration must be maintained for your entire life. You'll also likely have trouble finding a job or housing and may be required to live or work in certain areas.
Keep in mind that even if you are not convicted of such a crime, your arrest could have major ramifications. Your personal and professional reputation may suffer and your family may buckle under the financial and emotional strain. Considering today's political climate, a mere accusation of sexual misconduct could derail your entire future. That's why it's best to contact a sex crime lawyer as soon as you are arrested -- whether you are innocent or not.
There may be several possible defense strategies to use in your case.
Depending on the specifics of your case, your San Francisco sex crime attorney may choose to employ different defenses. False accusation and mistaken identity are common defenses, as is the argument that the sexual contact was consensual or that you believed it to be. Your lawyer could also argue that no sexual contact actually occurred or that there's insufficient evidence to convict you of this crime. Not every defense is an appropriate choice for a given case; it's essential to work with a sex crime lawyer to mount a viable legal strategy and to ensure your rights are protected throughout this process.
No matter what, you need help from a sex crime lawyer.
Trying to defend yourself against sex crime charges is never advisable. With so much at stake, it's imperative that you contact a sex crime lawyer to help you with your case. While they cannot guarantee that the charges will be dropped or that your case will be decided in your favor, their expertise will allow them to fight on your behalf.