What Is a “Sex Offense”?
Under Utah law there is no such criminal charge titled “Sex Offense,” but there are several sex-related offenses, which are offenses that involve illegal, improper, or inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature. Sex offenses include crimes such as
- child molestation,
- forcible sexual abuse,
- sexual solicitation, and
- possession of internet pornography
These crimes typically involve a lack of consent by the victim; however, it can be a crime to have contact of a sexual nature with a consenting individual. Crimes such as Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor and Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a 16 or 17 Year Old are crimes simply because of the ages of the persons involved. Most sex offenses are felony offenses punishable by a prison term.
If you or someone you know has been arrested on any type of sex crime, it is critically important to seek knowledgeable legal assistance as soon as possible. The extreme seriousness of a sex crimes conviction cannot be underestimated.
Why are sex offenses different from other serious felony cases?
Sex offenses are some of the most aggressively prosecuted crimes. Likewise, sex offenses are also some of the most severely punished crimes. Sex offenses are unique in the evidence that is brought to trial. Typically the victims in sexual-related offenses are women and children. This makes the case difficult, as jurors may be swayed to convict an individual based solely on the nature of the case and sympathy for the victim rather than on the evidence or lack thereof. Often times sex offenses are not reported for a lengthy period of time after the alleged offense, sometimes years, making it difficult for the defendant to gather and secure evidence to defend himself or herself. In many cases, there is little to no physical evidence of alleged crime, and they turn in to a he said/she said situation where the credibility of witnesses is critical. In other cases, evidence such a rape examinations or DNA evidence may be brought forward against the defendant. Lastly, it takes special skills when cross examining sex offense victims in court so as not to look too aggressive but at the same time to effectively discover any inconsistencies and flaws in the victim’s testimony.
Effects of a sex offense conviction
If you are convicted of a sexual offense, it can not only result in severe direct punishment in the forms of high fines, jail, and time in prison, but also long-lasting collateral consequences. For instance, a convicted sex offender may no longer be able to own any form of firearm or ammunition, including shotguns and hunting rifles. A convicted sex offender may no longer be able vote or hold certain public offices. A conviction for a sexual offense can cause problems with employment and may result of loss of many professional licenses. If you are not a U.S. citizen, a felony conviction can result in ineligibility for citizenship or even deportation.
If you are convicted of a sex offense, Utah law requires you to give a DNA sample that will be placed in a law enforcement database for the rest of your life. All sex offense convictions carry with it a significant public stigma. All but one sex offense require the individual to register on Utah’s Sex Offender registry, sometimes for life, and the offenders information, including address and conviction, are available on the internet for the entire public to see.
How to avoid a felony sex offense conviction
The most common way a sex offense conviction can be avoided is to fight the charge. Under our Constitution, an individual charged with a crime has an absolute right to plead not guilty and force the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Our attorneys are not afraid to take even the most serious and difficult cases to trial. Prior to trial a skilled defense attorney can raise other defenses in the form of Motions to Dismiss or Motions to Suppress. Depending on the nature of the Motion, a favorable ruling can result in the dismissal of some or all of the charges against you. Our firm maintains an extensive brief bank containing motions to suppress for many different scenarios and fact patterns, and we are constantly looking to expand the arguments for new and differing fact patterns.
The second way a felony sex offense conviction can be avoided is by a favorable plea agreement. In order to negotiate a favorable plea bargain, it is important to identify any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you. We also assist our clients in accessing appropriate treatment, including but not limited to substance abuse, anger management, and overall mental health. Even if you are ultimately convicted or enter a plea, a knowledgeable and well-prepared defense attorney can assist you by presenting any mitigating factors or extenuating personal circumstances to the court for purposes of convincing the judge to impose a more lenient sentence and possible probation rather than jail or prison.
What do I need to do first?
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As you can see, there is a great deal of information you need to be made aware of before you choose how to proceed with your case—too much to be covered here. To get more information and to have your case reviewed by one or our attorneys, please contact our office and schedule an appointment for a FREE initial consultation. This will allow us to gather information about you and your case, answer your questions, and discuss your options as to how to handle your case. There is simply no substitute for an aggressive and knowledgeable defense attorney. Although we cannot guarantee a particular result or outcome in any given case, we can guarantee you that we will do everything that we can to give you the best defense possible!