Jessica’s Law and Minimum Sentencing

State and federal lawmakers have taken steps in recent years to increase the penalties and provide harsher punishment for individuals who are found guilty of statutory rape of a minor. Persons may face statutory rape charges if they have sexual contact with a minor, even if the contact was not forced. The laws against such actions exist to protect minors from the predatory actions of adults, and persons may face serious criminal penalties for their actions because the law views minors as “unable to give legal consent”.

In order to strengthen the punishment for statutory rape and to deter others from engaging in illegal acts, many states have established mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for those who are found guilty of statutory rape. The guidelines typically require that an individual be incarcerated for a specified length of time, regardless of his or her prior criminal history or the circumstances surrounding the case.

Florida was one of the first states to adopt mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for persons who are found guilty of sexual crimes against children, and many states, including Massachusetts have adopted versions of “Jessica’s Law”. In Massachusetts in particular, mandatory minimum sentencing for statutory rape includes 10-year minimum sentences if:

  • The child is under 12 years of age and the defendant is more than 5 years older
  • The defendant is more than 10 years older and the child is between the ages of 12-16
  • If the defendant is considered to be a “mandatory reporter” in the state of Massachusetts

If you have been charged with a serious sex-related crime like statutory rape of a child, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side. Sex crimes can carry harsh criminal penalties like incarceration, fines, and probation. In addition, individuals may be required to register in a state database for sex-offenders and may find it difficult to find housing and employment.

For assistance with a case involving statutory rape or other type of sex-related crime, it is important to consider an experienced Massachusetts sex crimes attorney. For more information on sex crimes and your legal options, visit the website of the Massachusetts sex crimes attorney James Powderly.

Understanding Megan’s Law – Sex Offender Registration and Internet Database

California has seen many changes in sex crime laws and sex offender registration over the past decade. Those facing sex crime charges in California are subject to more penalties and pressures above and beyond a courtroom trial, prison time, or fines. Depending on the case and the consequences of the sex crime conviction, an individual may be required by Megan’s Law to register as a sex offender. California’s Megan’s Law was enacted in 1996 to allow local law enforcement agencies to inform the public about sex offender registrants found to be posing a threat to the public. As of recent years, the public has access to the location, names, and photographs of  “certain” sex offenders in their community on the Internet.

Such personal and public disclosure is determined by the type of sex crime a person was required to register under. Not every registered sex offender is required to be on this Internet website. In fact, about twenty-five percent of registered sex offenders are excluded from public disclosure by law. Based on the sex crime, the information required to be disclosed on the website falls into the categories of zip code, conditional home address, and home address.

Internet Sex Offender Regulations

It is important to note that Megan’s Law is meant to protect families and children – not as an additional means to punish the sex offender. Nevertheless, it can be a devastating experience for a person to face the shame and embarrassment that comes along with registering as a sex offender and having personal information about them on the Internet, especially after fulfilling the legal prison sentence, fine, or any other appointed punishment.

In addition, it is against the law to misuse the available offender information on the Internet to harass or commit any crime against the offender. In fact, if someone uses the data on the website to commit a felony against the offender, a prison term of at least five years can ensue. If a misdemeanor is committed against the offender by using the website’s information, fines from $10,000 up to $50,000 can result. Those who are required to register as a sex offender on the Internet face fines up to $1000, imprisonment in a county jail up to six months, or both, if they fail to enter their information on the website (Pen. Code, § 290.46, (h)(2).

Standards for Exclusion from the Internet Website

Determining if a sex offender registrant qualifies for exclusion from the Internet website is up to the Sex Offender Tracking Program. You can apply for exclusion by completing and submitting a form to the California Department of Justice. Registered sex offenders who receive exclusion from the website must still register as sex offenders. That is why if you have been arrested for a sex crime in California, you need a top California criminal defense attorney who can help you appeal your sentence, prevent sex crime registration, or reduce your conviction from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Registrants whose sex offenses are for the following offenses may apply for exclusion:

Registrants whose sex offenses are for the following offenses may apply for exclusion:

· Any offense which did not involve penetration or oral copulation in which the victim was a child, sibling of the offender, grandchild, stepchild, and for which the offender successfully completed or is successfully completing probation

· Sexually battery by restraint (Penal Code § 243.4, (a))

· Misdemeanor child molestation (Penal Code § 647.6, or former section 647a)

Sexual Assault Attoneys: Defending You Against Sex Crime Charges

Though the public may abandon and persecute sexual assault suspects before a conviction is ever reached, sexual assault attorneys believe that all individuals, regardless of the crime they may have been charged with, are entitled to their legal rights, as outlined in the U.S. Constitution. This includes due process of the law, a fair and speedy trial overseen by a jury of peers, and exemption from cruel and unusual punishment.

What are sexual assault crimes?
Sexual assault generally refers to any crime when an individual uses actual or threatened force to coerce another person into non-consensual sexual activity. These crimes can range from sexual harassment to sexual groping to assault/battery to attempted rape. Sexual assault accusations can also result in federal sexual abuse charges.

Why should I hire a sexual crime lawyer?
It can prove to be extremely difficult to “start over” once a person has been convicted of sexual activity. The consequences for sexual assaults can be life altering, and include jail time, probation limitations, and mandatory registration as a sex offender.

By summoning the strength to confront those who wronged you and file a claim against them for damages, you will be taking a major step towards moving on with your life. There may be instances in which the alleged victim appears to be consenting, but in actuality may not be, can create a gray area when a case is being tried. This ambiguity can result in a case dismissal before the charges are ever brought to court. Therefore, for the best chance of obtaining a successful case resolution, you need a lawyer with an exhaustive understanding of the legal system.

Hire an aggressive and qualified sexual assault attorney
Not all sexual assault attorneys are alike. In many instances the outcome of your case may hinge more on having the right sexual crime lawyer rather than the case law in your favor. Ask these questions:

1. Does your attorney have experience in this type of case?
2. Has your lawyer been to trial in a sexual crime case?
3. Is your lawyer fully informed of each and every step involved in the legal process?

You can answer these questions by checking the attorney’s website, which often lists the attorney’s experience, education, and speaking engagements. You can also ask the questions over the phone. A skilled attorney will aggressively defend the rights of individuals accused of any sex crime, including child molestation, and they provide effective representation to those accused of assault and battery, drug offenses, and federal and state crimes.

If you or someone you know is facing potential sexual assaults charges, it is critical that you work with a defense team that has specific experience and proven results in these types of cases. Don’t let just anyone try your case; consult someone you can trust. Because of severe sentencing guidelines and the requirement to register as a sex offender, it is critical that you aggressively fight this charge. To have the best chance of obtaining a case dismissal, sentence reduction, or acquittal, you or a loved one needs a sexual assault lawyer who will aggressively defend you in court.

Offenses Requiring Sex Offender Registration

Florida took the first step in 1997 to make a list of sex offenders available on the internet as well as making that information also available by telephone hotline for people who do not have the internet. It is a requirement in Florida for those convicted of a sex crime to register and report between two and four times per year, to the Sheriff’s Office. Florida’s requirements include more than just an address to register as sex offenders are required to also report any instant message names and numbers, and email addresses to the Sheriff’s Office. A sex offender’s birth month is what is used to determine which months he/she will be required to report in. If they fail to report, submit to all restrictions or provide all information requested will have penalties that classify as felonies. Sex based crimes in Florida are divided into two categories, Sexual Offender and Sexual Predator.

Sexual Predators

Florida law states that all sex offenders are not always considered to be sexual predators, and that for this to happen, the offender must appear in court before a judge who considers the evidence and makes the designation. Even someone who was convicted of sex based crimes, this does not automatically mean they are a sexual predator. There are five different ways in Florida for someone to be classified a sexual predator. These include first time convictions of: lewd and lascivious behavior in front of someone under the age of 16, kidnapping, buying or selling child pornography, false imprisonment, or sexual battery. You should be aware that this applies even if the conviction occurred in another jurisdiction or state besides Florida.

Another way you can be designated a sexual predator is if you commit one of the above mentioned offenses and especially if you were found guilty of having committed other sexual offenses in the past. Past sexual offenses that can get you a designation of sexual predator include: sexual battery, kidnapping, unlawful sexual activity with a minor, false imprisonment, having a child perform sexually, luring or enticing a child or getting someone under 18 for prostitution. Lastly, anyone can be designated a sexual predator if they are determined to be a sexually violent predator at a civil commitment hearing.

Sexual Offenders

he courts in Florida provide three ways to designate someone a sexual offender. The first way includes if you attempt to commit or commit: luring or enticing a child, kidnapping a minor, sexual battery, false imprisonment of a minor, getting someone under 18 for prostitution unlawful sexual acts with a minor, sexual misconduct, selling or buying minors for sex trafficking, or computer pornography. The second way says if you have a conviction that occurred in another state or jurisdiction, you can be considered a sex offender in Florida. If a person has been designated a sexual offender in a different jurisdiction or state, Florida laws will also designate that person as such and they will be required to register their status. The third way says that under Florida laws, if someone attempts to commit or commits lewd and lascivious molestation, sexual battery or lewd or lascivious battery on someone 14 or older, they can be designated a sexual offender in Florida.

Zoophilia and Bestiality Laws

Under jurisdictions across the United States, there are laws against sexual intercourse or even interaction between certain individuals and certain species. In general, these laws attempt to protect those who otherwise would not be able to or would not know to protect themselves. Although these laws have been challenged and rewritten to follow particular court precedents, most jurisdictions have laws against bestiality and intercourse involving an animal. These laws vary depending on the state, defining different offenses along various lines.

Most states originally outlawed bestiality, or zoophilia, as it is also known, under original sodomy laws. When they were first passed, sodomy laws were intended not to only ban homosexual relationships, but also to rule out sexual interactions that where so-called “crimes against nature”. Although these laws were struck down by the courts, as many of their definitions were vague and potentially hazardous to privacy laws, certain ideas were not removed from the legal systems of the states, and current bestiality laws were passed to protect the basic rights of animals.

In many states, bestiality is considered a misdemeanor. This means that a person may still be placed on a sex offender list due to the nature of the crime, but will suffer a lighter sentence that may not include any prison sentences or fines to excessive amounts. Additionally, these penalties will not encroach on felony-based penalties regarding voting or political participation.

In other states, bestiality is considered a felony. In these states, this sex act is pursued to the full extent of the law, as many in these states see the crime as both sexual deviancy and animal cruelty. According to the laws in these states, this crime may be coupled with severe fines and potentially jail sentences, depending on the circumstances of that particular case.

For some states, there may not be laws against zoophilia, but there may be some additional charges attached to the act. To learn more, contact a sex crime attorney.