Charged with a Sex Crime in Pittsburgh? We Can Help.
Few things in life are as difficult as learning you are being accused of a sex crime. The minute the police begin an investigation into these allegations, your life changes. Every mistake you may have made will be dragged into the light of day, and you can be made to look guilty no matter how innocent you are.
When you find yourself in this difficult situation, you need to contact a sex crime lawyer from Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC. Your best chance of exonerating yourself in court is to work with an attorney who will put their knowledge, skills, and experience to work for you. To learn how a Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney can help you, call us at (412) 281-2146 to schedule a free consultation.
Sex Crime Laws and Sexual Offenses in Pennsylvania
At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we are well-versed in defending our clients against all types and levels of sex offenses. If you are charged with an offense described below or any other sex crime, contact us today.
- Rape– 18 Pa. Code §3121 states you can be charged with rape if you perform sexual intercourse on a victim through force, by the threat of force, while the victim is unconscious, after substantially impairing the victim’s perception and control through alcohol or drugs, or when the victim has a mental disability that makes them unable to consent. Rape is a first-degree felony, and depending on the circumstances, you may face additional penalties. It is one of the most serious sex crimes you can be accused of, and you should never handle it without a sex crime defense attorney by your side.
- Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse– Under 18 Pa. Code §3123, you may be charged with this offense if you perform deviate sexual intercourse on a victim through force; by threatening force; when the victim is unconscious; when you have substantially impaired the victim’s control with alcohol or drugs; when the victim suffers from a mental disability that makes them unable to consent; and when the victim is not your spouse, younger than 16 years old, and you are four or more years older than the alleged victim. This is a first-degree felony that results in heightened punishments.
- Sexual Assault– If your case does not meet the precise elements of rape or involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, you can still be charged with a second-degree felony for performing sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse on a victim without their consent, according to 18 Pa. Code §3124.1.
- Indecent Assault– 18 Pa. Code §3126 outlines of the offense of indecent assault. This crime entails you having indecent contact with a victim; causing the victim to have indecent contact with you; or causing the victim to come into contact with semen, urine, or feces for the purpose of sexual desire. This offense is committed without consent, by force, by threat of force, when the victim is unconscious, when you have impaired the victim with alcohol or drugs, the victim has a mental disability making them incapable of consenting, the victim is younger than 13 years, or the victim is younger than 16 years when you are more than four years older. This can be a misdemeanor or felony.
- Indecent Exposure– Based on 18 Pa. Code §3127, you can be charged with indecent exposure if you expose your genitals in a public place, or you expose yourself in a place where there are other people and you know or should know that your actions will offend or alarm them. This is typically a second-degree misdemeanor, unless adolescents under the age of 16 years are present. In this situation, it is a first-degree misdemeanor.
- Child Pornography– You can be charged with an offense under 18 Pa. Code §6312(d) for intentionally looking at or knowingly possessing any content that depicts a minor under the age of 18 years engaging in or simulating sex acts. This is a felony-level offense.
- Unlawful Contact with a Minor– 18 Pa. Code §6318 states you commit a crime if you are intentionally in contact with a minor with the purpose of engaging in any sex offense. You will face the same charge as that of the underlying sex crime or a third-degree felony, whichever is greater. Child pornography is often charged as a third-degree felony. However, you may face a higher penalty for creating or distributing child pornography. If you have been accused of any sex offense involving a child, immediately contact a sex crime defense attorney.
- Prostitution & Solicitation– Prostitution and related crimes are established in 18 Pa. Code §5902. You can be charged with prostitution if you engage in sexual activity as a business in view of a place where prostitution occurs for the purpose of being hired to engage in sexual activity. You may be charged with patronizing prostitutes if you hire someone to engage in a sex act for money. A first or second offense is a third-degree misdemeanor, unless you are aware you have HIV. Then it is a third-degree felony.
- Obscene Materials– Based on 18 Pa. Code §5903, you are prohibited from creating pornography or other obscene materials, displaying pornographic material where it can be seen by the public, selling it to adults, advertising where obscene materials can be obtained, allowing any minor to assist in illegal acts involving obscene materials, or giving sexually explicit materials to minors. If charged with this offense, you may face a first-degree misdemeanor, a second-degree felony, or a third-degree felony.
- Incest– 18 Pa. Code §4302 states you can be charged with a second-degree felony for knowingly marrying, cohabitating with, or engaging in sexual intercourse with any ancestor, descendant, or sibling who you are fully or half-related to by blood, or with any aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew who you are fully-related to by blood.
Sex crime charges are serious in Pennsylvania. Learn how our experienced Pittsburgh sex crimes lawyers can defend your rights.
Penalties and Consequences of a Pennsylvania Sex Crime Conviction
Not all sex crimes are charged as felonies, and even when facing a misdemeanor, the potential consequences could be severe. Unless the statute specifically allows for enhanced sentences, then sex crimes are punished by:
- Third-degree misdemeanor– Maximum of one year in jail, and fines up to $2,000.
- Second-degree misdemeanor– Up to two years in jail, and a maximum fine of $5,000.
- First-degree misdemeanor– Jail for up to five years, and fines reaching $10,000.
- Third-degree felony– Maximum of seven years imprisonment, and a fine up to $15,000.
- Second-degree felony– Prison time for up to 10 years, and a fine reaching $25,000.
- First-degree felony– Up to 20 years in prison, and maximum fines of $25,000.
Rape is one of the sex crimes that specifically calls for harsher punishments when certain factors exist in your case. If you are convicted of rape during which you substantially impaired the victim’s consent through administering alcohol or drugs, then you can be sentenced to an additional 10 years in prison and fined another $100,000. Rape of a child causing serious bodily injury may result in a life sentence.
Whether you are facing a few years in prison or a life sentence, you deserve the strongest defense possible. Call our sex crime lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC to learn more.
Registering as a Sex Offender in Pennsylvania
According to Pennsylvania law, anyone convicted of a sex crime must register with the state’s Sex Offender Registry and update their information regularly. If you register, all of your personal information including your name, home address, work address, and photo will be available to the public. Failing to register as a sex offender can lead to additional consequences.
The duration of your registration and other related requirements are based on the conviction and whether you are placed in Tier I, II, or III.
- Tier I offenses require registering annually for 15 years.
- Tier II offenses require registering every six months for 25 years.
- Tier III offenses require registering every three months for life.
Collateral Consequences of a Sex Crime in Pennsylvania
With a misdemeanor or felony sex crime on your record, you will face many consequences as you try to re-integrate into society and a specific community. Outside of the criminal penalties, you might experience any or more of the following:
As you try to get a job, you may be forced to reveal your conviction or it will come up on a background check. If you are convicted of a sex crime, you may be ineligible for certain jobs under Pennsylvania law. Most employers will not choose to hire you if they find out you are a registered sex offender after completing a criminal background check. In addition, your professional license may be suspended or completely revoked, making it impossible for you to make a living by working in the career of your choice.
A sex crime conviction will also appear on a background check when you try to go to college, rent an apartment, or apply for a loan. One background check is all a school, landlord, or bank needs to see for them to fear backlash and deny you admission, the apartment, or a loan.
Ultimately, a sex crime conviction can make it very difficult for you to rent an apartment or house. You may also have restrictions on where you can live, including near a park, daycare, or school. Additionally, no more than five sexually violent predators may live in a group home at any one time. Thus, if you are trying to reside in a halfway house or rehabilitation facility, you may have limitations.
Sex crime convictions can have a devastating effect on your immigration status. You may be deported from the United States or prohibited from ever returning to the country if you were to leave. The type of sex crime you committed may also affect your life in your native country.
If you are single or divorced and have custody rights that allow you to see your children, those rights may be taken away because of a sex crime conviction. The other parent may request sole custody of your children as well as a protection order from the court.
Ruined Reputation and Relationships
Since sex crime offenders are not hidden from the public and are often labeled as “sexually violent predators,” a conviction can lead to ruined personal and professional reputations. You may find it incredibly difficult to develop healthy and meaningful relationships with a romantic partner, social acquaintance, employer, or anyone else who is aware of your conviction.
When you’re facing charges for a sex crime, you may feel that your situation is hopeless. You may wonder how your attorney will defend you against the allegations leveled against you. Some common defenses to sex crime charges include:
- Consent – Consent is defined as the voluntary agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question. This defense is usually used when the defendant and alleged victim knew one another prior to the sexual act. In Pennsylvania, the age of consent is 16, meaning the consent defense is not effective if the alleged victim was under the age of 16 when the sexual act in question occurred. Evidence such as sexual emails, phone calls, or text messages that prove that the two parties have had previous sexual relations may be used to prove there was not a lack of consent. Additionally, witness testimony that may show previous sexual behavior between the two parties can also be used to prove that consent was, indeed, provided.
- DNA Evidence – After a sexual crime, the DNA of the offender may be left on the victim’s clothing, body, or crime scene. The DNA can be obtained from sources such as the offender’s skin cells, sweat, hair, and saliva, and it can be used to identify the offender and prove certain elements of the crime. Although DNA can provide solid evidence, it is not mistake-proof. A Pittsburgh sexual assault lawyer may challenge the collection, transportation, isolation, testing techniques, and database sufficiency of the DNA evidence.
- Mistake of Identity – When the wrong person has been identified as committing an offense, this mistake of identity may be used as a sex crime defense. The victim may not have been able to see the perpetrator clearly. Therefore, they were unable to properly identify them. A Pittsburgh sexual crime lawyer may also provide evidence that the accused person has a strong alibi, making it impossible for them to have been with the victim at the time of the crime.
- False Allegations – False accusations are always a possibility in sex crime cases. They occur when a victim accuses someone of a crime that was either never committed, committed by someone other than the accused, or committed in a way that was different than the victim described. To prove false allegations, a Pittsburgh sex crime lawyer may argue that there is a lack of evidence for the allegations, show that the accused was not at the scene at the time of the crime, or identify the real perpetrator of the offense.
The Pittsburgh sex crime lawyers of Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC understand the devastating effects being charged with a sex crime can have on your life. Contact us today to learn more about the above defenses and other ways we can defend you against sexual offense allegations.
Let One of Our Pittsburgh Sex Crime Lawyers Defend You
When you have been charged with one or more Pennsylvania sex crimes, you need to speak with an attorney about the best way to defend yourself. The defenses our attorneys may use depend on a number of factors, including the charges, the specific allegations of the case, and your criminal history. We may put forward a number of defenses such as that you had consent to behave as you did. We may also fight to suppress illegally obtained and irrelevant evidence.
At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we understand how devastating this situation is for you. Allegations of sexual misconduct can quickly ruin your reputation and have you suffering difficult consequences long before a judge or jury hears your case. We are here to protect you and defend your rights. We firmly believe that you are innocent until proven guilty, and we will build you the strongest defense available under the law.