Have you been accused of committing a sex crime in Greensburg or a nearby city? These types of offenses cannot merely be explained away, and you deserve every protection the law allows. Whether you have already been charged with a sex offense, or you are under investigation, you need to call a sex crime lawyer right away.
The sex crime attorneys with Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys are here to protect your rights. Our criminal defense lawyers in Greensburg will do everything possible to protect your privacy and reputation during a criminal investigation. Depending upon our analysis of your case, we may fight for the charges to be dropped or dismissed. If the prosecutor insists on pursuing charges, and the court allows it, then we will take steps to limit their evidence against you. We also will determine the strongest possible defense.
What Is a Sex Crime?
A sex offense in Pennsylvania is any criminal conduct with a sexual element. A majority of sex crimes involve non-consensual sexual activity. Non-consensual activity includes those involving children, who inherently cannot consent to sexual activity due to their age and lack of maturity, and with adults who are not physically or mentally capable of agreeing to sexual activity or are forced to participate despite saying “no.”
Some crimes do not include sexual contact between the perpetrator and victim, but there is a sexual motivation for the behavior. A person who owns child pornography may not have direct contact with the child, but their possession of the unlawful images is directed by their sexual impulses.
If you are accused of any unlawful sexual activity in nearby Greensburg, call a sex crime lawyer immediately. These are sensitive and very damaging allegations, making it is essential that you protect your rights and fight the charges.
Types of Sex Crimes Charges
There are various sex offenses in Pennsylvania. Depending on the circumstances, you could be charged with:
- Rape (18 Pa. Code §3121): Rape is one of the most serious sex crimes you can be accused of in Pennsylvania. Under Pennsylvania law, you can be charged with rape if you perform sexual intercourse on another person through the use of force; by threat of force; while the person is unconscious; after you substantially impair the person’s perception and control with alcohol or drugs; or when the person has a mental disability that makes them unable to consent to sex. This is a first-degree felony. If you are accused of rape, call a sex offense lawyer immediately.
- Sexual Assault (18 Pa. Code §3124.1): Some situations are similar to rape, but do not meet the statutory elements necessary for a prosecutor to prove a rape occurred beyond a reasonable doubt. In this situation, you may be charged with performing sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse on another person without their consent. Deviate sexual intercourse includes oral sex, anal sex, and penetration of a person’s genitals or anus with a foreign object, however slight. This is a second-degree felony and requires the attention of an attorney as soon as possible.
- Indecent Assault (18 Pa. Code §3126): You can be charged with indecent assault if you cause indecent contact with another person, or cause another person to come into contact with semen, urine, or feces, for the purpose of sexual arousal, and you do so without that person’s consent, through the use of force, through threats of force, when the person is unconscious, when you have substantially impaired the person’s faculties, when the person has a mental disability, when the victim is a minor. The charge for indecent assault depends on the exact circumstances. You may face a second- or first-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree felony. Also, there are circumstances in which you can be charged with aggravated indecent assault under 18 Pa. Code §3125. This requires the prosecutor to prove there was non-consensual penetration of the other person’s genitals or anus, no matter how slight. Aggravated indecent assault is a second- or first-degree felony.
- Indecent Exposure (18 Pa. Code §3127): If you are accused of exposing your genitals either in a public place or in a place where other people can see, and you know or should know your actions will offend or alarm others, then you can be charged with indecent exposure, which is a second- or first-degree misdemeanor.
- Prostitution & Solicitation (18 Pa. Code §5902): You can get into trouble with the law if you are involved in prostitution in any way. You may be charged with a crime if you engage in prostitution, solicit a prostitute, or promote prostitution. Participating in prostitution is a third-degree misdemeanor. However, if you are aware you have HIV at the time of the sex act, then you will face a third-degree felony. You also may face higher charges for promoting prostitution or running an establishment in which prostitution is available.
- Child Pornography (18 Pa. Code §6312(d)): If there is any evidence that you knowingly possessed or intentionally viewed any content featuring children under the age of 18 years old engaging in sexual acts or simulating sexual conduct, then you can be charged with a child pornography crime. This is typically a third- or second-degree felony. This can be a hyper-technical offense, involving the internet and the dissemination of images, so if you’re accused of or investigated for possessing child pornography, call a sex crimes attorney immediately.
- Unlawful Contact With a Minor (18 Pa. Code §6318): If you accused of intentionally being in contact with a minor for the purpose of engaging in a sex crime, then you will be charged with the underlying sex offense you allegedly wished to complete or a third-degree felony. Prosecutors will charge you with whichever offense is higher.
- Sexting (18 Pa. Code §6321): Sexting is the act of electronically sending intimate or sexual pictures or videos. Many adults and adolescents participate in sexting. The problem arises when minors send images of themselves or other minors and those picture contact breasts, genitals, or sexually explicit content. This could be deemed child pornography, even if it was consensually created and sent. Pennsylvania has since made it a different crime—transmission of sexually explicit images by minors. This is a summary offense when the minor sends a picture of themselves or views an image of a minor older than 12 years. It is a third-degree misdemeanor if the minor sends a picture of someone else, and it is a second-degree misdemeanor when the minor sends the sexual image with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or torment another minor.
Penalties for Sex Crimes in PA
Sexual offenses in Pennsylvania are punished based on whether the charge is deemed a felony or misdemeanor. The specific level determines the potential minimum and maximum penalties, including time in custody and fines. Pennsylvania also takes the seriousness of the offense and your criminal history into consideration for the purpose of sentencing.
Potential terms of incarceration and fines for sex crimes in PA include:
- First-degree felonies: Punishable with up to 20-years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of $25,000.
- Second-degree felonies: Penalized with a maximum of 10 years of incarceration and fines up to $25,000.
- Third-degree felonies: Punishable with up to seven years’ incarceration and fines reaching $15,000.
- First-degree misdemeanors: Sanctioned with a maximum of five years of imprisonment and fines up to $10,000.
- Second-degree misdemeanors: Penalized by up to two years imprisonment and a fine reaching $5,000.
- Third-degree misdemeanors: Punished with up to one-year incarceration and a maximum fine of $2,000.
- Summary offenses: Sanctioned by up to 90-days’ incarceration and fines up to $300.
Overall, statutory penalties for a sex crime may include time in jail or prison, probation, fines, court fees, mental health counseling or treatment, and sex offender registration. To learn more about these possible sanctions, call a sex crime attorney at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys.
Sex Offender Registration in Pennsylvania
If you are convicted of a sex offense in Pennsylvania, one of the harshest penalties you will face is sex offender registration. By being required to register as a sex offender where you live, and possibly where you work or go to school, your past and personal information are available to the public. Anyone can look up the sex offender registry and see your picture, name, location, and conviction.
Based on your conviction, you are placed in Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3 under Pennsylvania’s sex offender registration law.
- Tier 1 offenders must register for 15 years and re-register every year.
- Tier 2 offenders must register for 25 years and renew their registration every six months.
- Tier 3 offenders must register every three months for life.
If you are required to register, you must adhere to all of the rules. Failure to initial register, or failure to properly renew your registration, is a crime. To learn more about potential sex offender registration, and to defend against sex crime charges, call a sex offense attorney immediately.
Collateral Consequences of a Greensburg Sex Crime Conviction
Upon a conviction for a sex crime, you will have a permanent criminal record and will be required to register as a sex offender. These two things can have significant consequences, long after incarceration. When you return to your community or move somewhere new, you will likely run into problems finding and keeping a job. Even if you do not have to declare the conviction, it will come up on a background check. If you try to go back to school or to receive job training, you may face challenges being accepted into schools or programs. You also may have trouble obtaining financial aid to pay for your education.
If you manage to obtain an education or job training, you may run into another obstacle. You may not be eligible for certain professional licenses. Even if you are technically eligible, you may still face challenges being approved by the governing body for ethical reasons.
In addition to educational and professional challenges, you may have trouble finding a place to live due to geographic restrictions and discriminatory rental practices. If you have children, you may lose custody or visitation. You may not be able to vote while you are on probation or parole. Also, you may find it difficult to travel abroad, since other countries may deny you visitor or work visas.
Additionally, if you are found guilty of a felony sex offense, you will lose the right to own firearms for the rest of your life.
Statute of Limitations for Pennsylvania Sex Crimes
The statute of limitations on sex crimes in Pennsylvania varies depending on the crime and the age of the alleged victim. For many sex offenses, including rape, sexual assault, indecent assault, and sexual abuse of children, prosecutors must file charges within 12 years of the date the crime was committed. However, if the alleged victim(s) was under the age of 18 at the time, then the prosecution has until the victim’s 50th birthday to file charges for these offenses.
There is a major exception to the statute of limitations, though, which gives prosecutors more time. If evidence of a misdemeanor sex crime or any felony offense is obtained through DNA, and this DNA identifies a previously unidentified suspect, then the statute of limitations runs for one year after the individual is identified.
There are also several reasons that the Pennsylvania statute of limitations can be paused, giving prosecutors a longer period of time to commence a criminal suit. One of these reasons is that you may be out of the state, and during this time, the statute of limitations is paused.
Potential Defenses to Sex Crime Allegations
If you have been accused of a sex crime, it is essential you work with a Greensburg sex crime lawyer near you to defend yourself. Some of the most common defenses used in sex offense cases include:
- You had consent.
- DNA evidence points to another perpetrator.
- There has been a mistake of identity.
- These are false allegations against you—and the accuser has an ulterior motive.
- There is insufficient evidence to prove you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Contact a Greensburg Sex Crime Lawyer Near You for Help
After you have been accused or arrested for a sex crime in Greensburg, you should firmly and politely tell the police that you are invoking your right to remain silent and that you want an attorney. Your next step is to call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys to speak with an experienced and skilled sex offense lawyer. We are here to protect your rights and fight these charges.