There is no turning back from a conviction for a sex offense in Los Angeles. Even after the penalties of a conviction have passed, the stigma associated with the charges that were made against you will live on – most likely forever.
That’s why it’s so important to speak with a skilled defense attorney if you or someone you love has been accused of a sex crime. With a strong, hard-hitting defense attorney called to the scene early on, you stand the best chance of beating the allegations against you.
Especially in the era of #metoo, it has become too common in our society for people to make severe accusations, even when the situation doesn’t warrant it. The consequences of these allegations can be extreme. California has steep penalties for sex crime convictions, and even after you have finished serving your time, you could be faced with the challenges of appearing on the California sex offender registry.
For this reason, defendants who are facing sex offense charges need to act quickly and aggressively.
Sex crime charges in California
The term “sex crime” refers to any felony or misdemeanor that is sexual in nature. This includes charges like indecent exposure, solicitation of a prostitute, child pornography and everything in between.
Every case is different, but below is a general outline of how a typical case might unfold:
- The alleged crime is reported
- The accuser is interviewed
- Forensic investigation
- “Pretext call” – In a pretext call, police have the accuser make a phone call to the suspect in order to secure a confession while the suspect is unaware that police are listening in.
- Investigation of other misconduct
- The suspect is interviewed
If you or someone you love has been accused of a sex crime or has experienced any of the items above, it is important to speak with a defense attorney immediately. These are signs that you could be under investigation, and they mean it is time to begin building your defense.
Penalties for sex crime charges in California
Most sex crimes in California are either felonies or “wobblers.” Wobblers can be either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the facts of the case and your criminal history. Penalties can include, but aren’t limited to:
- Jail time
- Restraining orders
- Mandatory counseling
- Community service
If you are convicted of a sex offense, you might also be required to join the state sex offender registry. Registered sex offenders have to update their information annually and anytime they move.
The California Sex Offender Registry has three tiers:
- Tier 1: You must register for a minimum of 10 years
- Tier 2: You must register for a minimum of 20 years
- Tier 3: You must register for the rest of your life
If you fail to update your registration, you can be charged with failure to register as a sex offender (290 PC). Penalties for failure to register can depend on the original crime you were charged with, but it can range as high as three years for felons.
Defenses against sex crime charges
Sexual misconduct actions are extremely serious. These crimes are generally punished more severely than any other offense except murder.
Sexual misconduct is rarely witnessed by anyone other than the accuser and the accused. Evidence is usually sketchy, if there is any evidence at all. This is how innocent people can get caught up in these cases.
A skilled criminal defense attorney can comb through the details of your case, raising critical pieces of evidence and witness testimony that can see your charges reduced or dropped entirely.
Federal sex crime defense attorney
State governments are usually responsible for prosecuting sex crimes. However, in some cases, the federal government is allowed to get involved.
These are usually cases of an aggravated sex crime or a crime that crosses state borders.
For example, if someone in California produces child pornography in their home, they likely broke the state’s law prohibiting child pornography. If that person sends the pornographic material to someone in another state, they could now find themselves in trouble with the federal government as well.
Federal investigations are very serious. The FBI and US Department of Justice have virtually endless resources to investigate and prosecute crimes, and they will stop at nothing to prosecute sex crimes and crimes against children.
What are federal sex crimes?
The federal government has the responsibility to investigate and prosecute violations of federal law. This can include any case where a sex crime crosses state lines, such as human trafficking or child pornography.
It also includes any case where someone is suspected of breaking a law enacted by congress. Common federal sex crimes can include:
- Purchasing or selling a child for sexual purposes
- Sexual abuse of a child resulting in death
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Cases where the offender has multiple prior convictions
When the federal government believes that you have committed a crime, you likely won’t know about it for some time. The government investigates cases in secret, using tactics like wiretaps, visual surveillance and subpoenas of your computer data to build a case against you before you even know you’re under investigation.
Many people don’t find out that they’re under investigation until an agency like the FBI contacts them for an interview.
What are the penalties for federal sex crimes?
Federal sex crimes usually carry “mandatory minimum” sentences, which means it will be impossible to avoid prison time.
Prison times depend on the specific crimes you are charged with and how many counts of each charge you have received. Generally speaking, however, it’s not uncommon to see defendants face multiple counts of 10+ year charges in federal sex crime cases.
As well, once an inmate is released from federal prison after committing a sex crime, they’ll likely have to register on the national sex offender registry. Even after an extensive prison sentence, appearing on the sex offender registry can be severely disruptive to your life. It can lead to consequences like:
- Limitations on housing
- Job loss
- Strained relationships
- Loss of professional licenses
- Immigration and naturalization restrictions
How do I fight federal sex crimes charges?
As we mentioned above, the federal government takes sex crimes and crimes against children very seriously. If the federal government believes that you have committed a federal sex crime, it will commit as many resources as possible to investigating you and getting a conviction.
“Robert Helfend is one of the best criminal defense attorneys I’ve ever worked with. He was so knowledgeable, and always made sure I understood everything every step of the way. I would definitely recommend him to anyone who wants an understanding, caring, and truly helpful lawyer.” Pat, CA
Federal penalties for sex crimes are very steep, and they can disrupt the rest of your life.
While it might seem like the chips are stacked against you, a skilled federal defense attorney can be your lifeline in this uncertain time. The federal criminal justice system is intimidating and confusing, but your attorney will help make sense of the road ahead and advise you on your options.
As your case unfolds, your attorney will carefully investigate the evidence and the facts of your case. Your attorney will use this information to build your defense and safeguard your constitutionally guaranteed rights every step of the way. This can be an anxious time, but a good attorney will help bring peace of mind.
Robert M. Helfend is a sex crimes specialist, practicing federal law since 1984. He is rated by SuperLawyers, Lead Counsel and the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 and he is prepared to take your case. Call today for your free case evaluation – 800-834-6434.