Sex Crimes Lawyer in Sarasota, FL
Although being accused of a crime is always a serious matter, being charges with a sex crime brings on another level of potential consequences.
In addition to any fines you must pay or jail time you must serve, being convicted of a sex crime is something that will stay with you forever and can seriously impact your opportunities going forward.
Because of their seriousness, there is a lot of stigma around sex crimes. So much so that the public often casts those accused as being guilty before proven innocent, which is not how the American justice system works.
This can make for a more stressful trial and can even lead you to confess things you didn’t do fearing it’s the only option.
At Smith and Eulo, we believe everyone deserves the same treatment no matter what crime they have been accused of. And with a rich experience working with sex crimes and related offenses, we’re the only lawyers you need.
If you need a sex crimes lawyer in Sarasota, FL, get in touch today. Meanwhile, here’s everything you need to know about your charges and the ensuing legal process.
What is a Sex Crime?
There is no official term in the legal code called “sex crime.” Instead, a sex crime is any one of a number of crimes in which one person sexually abuses another person or investigates unwanted sexual contact by using force or psychological manipulation.
Some of the crimes that will be prosecuted as sex crime include:
- Sexual assault (rape)
- Child abuse exploitation, molestation, or pornography
- Indecency with a child
- Exposing a child to harmful sexual material
- Human trafficking
- Forcing another into prostitution
- Sex trafficking
- Cyber sex crime
- Indecent exposure
- Lewd and lascivious behavior
What Happens if You Are Accused of a Sex Crime?
Being accused of a sex crime is effectively the same as being accused of any other crime. You will first be booked by the arresting officer and then taken to an arraignment where you can enter your plea of guilty or not guilty.
From there, you will stand trial (if you have not worked out a pre-trial deal with the prosecution or managed to get the charges dropped) where a jury will decide your fate.
When accused, the very first thing you should do is call an experienced criminal defense attorney.
As mentioned, sex crimes are very senstive in nature and it can be very difficult to feel like you’re getting a fair trial and judgement before the law. An attorney will help make sure this happens and give you the best chance of achieving a favorable outcome in court.
What Happens if You Are Convicted of a Sex Crime?
Facing sex crime charges is like any other charges, but if convicted, things are a little different.
Depending on the nature of the crime, expect to do some jail time. Since sex crimes is an umbrella term that includes a number of different offenses, it’s impossible to predict just how much time you may face in prison.
To give you an idea, stalking is usually charged as either a first-degree misdemeanor (up to one year in prison) or a third-degree felony (up to five years in prison).
First degree sexual assault, i.e. rape, is charged as a first degree felony and carries a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison.
If the victim was under 12 years of age at the time of the act, however, this is converted to a capital felony, which come with maximum penalties of life in prison or death.
Injunction or Restraining Order
If you have been convicted of a sex crime, no matter the severity, it is not uncommon for the sentence to include an injunction against you filed by the victim. What this means is that you will be prohibited, by law, from contacting or engaging with this person for a specified period.
Should you try to make contact while the injunction is in place, the consequences for your crime could be more severe. For example, simple stalking, which is normally a misdemeanor, is elevated to a felony charge if an injunction has been in place.
In some extenuating circumstances, you may petition the court to be exempted from these requirements. However, very specific conditions must be met and even then, it is not a guarantee.
Sex Offender Registry
Perhaps the biggest difference between sex crimes and other charges is that those who are convicted must put themselves on the national sex offender registry list.
This makes their own personal information, including a photo and address, publicly available. It also restricts some of your actions. For example, you cannot go within 1,000 feet of a school and cannot visit public parks.
In some cases, you may be forced to identify yourself when moving to a new community or town, and you will be limited in where you can work. Schools and other professions that put you in contact with vulnerable populations will be strictly off limits.
You may also be required to check in regularly with an officer of the court to be sure you are complying the with restrictions that come from being on the registry
Registration is mandatory and must be renewed each year. It also comes with a fee, which you will be responsible for paying.
Depending on which crime you are convicted of you will have to register either as a sexual offender or a sexual predator.
In the state of Florida, a sexual predator is someone who has committed a sexually violent crime. You can also be labeled as a sexual predator if you have been convicted of multiple sexually based crimes.
Sex offenders are those who have committed any other sexually based offense.
Those labeled as sexual predators will face stricter restrictions. For example, sexual predators must notify the county sheriff’s office when they move, and the sheriff will then notify everyone living within a two-mile radius of the predator’s new place of residence.
Sexual offenders don’t usually need to do this, though it’s ultimately up to the court to decide.
Defend Yourself with an Experienced Sex Crimes Lawyer
As you can see, there are a lot of variables in a sex crimes case, and the consequences could not be higher. Not only do you face potential jail time, but your entire future is in jeopardy.
Therefore, if you’ve been charged with a sex crime, you must work with an experienced and dedicated attorney. At Smith & Eulo, we have defended countless sex crimes cases, understand the law, and know what it takes to achieve a favorable outcome in court.
If you’re facing sex crimes charges in Sarasota, Fl, get in touch so we can start crafting your defense today.
* Here are some additional legal resources in the Sarasota area to help you navigate your situation.
In addition to our Sarasota location, we also have offices in: