If you are charged and convicted of a sex crime, you will be labeled as a sex offender in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This means mandatory registration as a sex offender – not to mention possible prison time and life-long stigma.
But allegations are not convictions. No matter the sex crime accusation, you are innocent until proven guilty. You still have legal rights and options. Reach out to the Roanoke sex crime attorneys with Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico right away. Early intervention and effective representation can help you handle this situation the right way so you secure the best possible outcome.
Call (540) 343-9349 for a free and confidential consultation. We’ll discuss what happened and your next steps.
Accused? Don’t Make a Statement
Even if you believe everything is one big misunderstanding, when you suspect you’re the target of a sex crime investigation, it’s in your best interest to not say anything until you’ve spoken to a lawyer. Any misstatement or inaccurate recollection will be scrutinized and make matters even worse.
Work with a Roanoke Sex Crimes Lawyer
Instead of answering questions or trying to explain things on your own, get qualified and experienced legal representation. This is how you properly address accusations and protect yourself from false claims and possibly a devastating sex crime conviction.
Contact Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico. We know the strain you’re under. Let us provide an honest assessment of the evidence, explain your legal options, argue for your benefit, and work to resolve things favorably.
Possible Sex Crime Defenses
Being accused of a sexual offense can be very difficult. Many people believe there’s no recovering from such allegations and nothing can be done to help if you’re facing sex crime charges. However, any number of defense options may pertain to your case. This could lead to having your charges reduced, dismissed, or clearing your name in court.
Common sex crime defense strategies include:
- False Allegations
- Faulty or a Lack of Evidence
- Establishing Consent
- Affirmative Defenses
With effective legal representation, you can highlight the problems with your case, refute inaccurate versions of events, prove sexual activity was consensual, and otherwise raise a strong defense against Virginia sex offenses.
Virginia Sex Crimes
The Commonwealth aggressively prosecutes sex crimes, even if the act was attempted but not completed. And while many believe these offenses are typically committed by strangers, in fact, most accusations of cincinnal sexual misconduct come from those we know. Due to the serious nature of sexual offenses and the possible devastating consequences, it is essential to take any of the following seriously and retain an experienced Virginia sex crimes lawyer.
Sexual Assault & Battery
VA Code § 18.2-67.4 – If you have been charged with sexual battery, then the Commonwealth is alleging that you have sexually abused another individual. Sexual abuse is generally defined as an act that is intended to sexually molest, arouse, or gratify another person. This offense is considered a Class 1 Misdemeanor; however, your specific charge could be more severe if you were knowingly infected with a sexually transmitted disease at the time of the battery or if the abuse was inflicted on an individual less than 15 years of age (see sex crimes involving minors).
VA Code § 18.2-61 – A charge of rape means that you are alleged to have engaged in sexual intercourse with another against their will. It is also important to note that if the alleged victim is unable to say no to your sexual advances due to drugs, alcohol, or mental disability, then you can still be charged and convicted of rape. A rape conviction in Virginia can result in life in prison.
Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
VA Code § 18.2-472.1 – Virginia requires that individuals who have been convicted of certain violent or sexual offenses register with the Virginia Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry. If you are guilty of one of these offenses and knowingly fail to register or knowingly provide false information to the registry, then you will be charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
Sex Crimes Involving Minors
Sexual offenses involving minors usually involve the same acts as sexual offenses against adults, but the punishments are often much more severe. For example, a rape conviction where the victim is an adult carries a mandatory minimum of five years in prison, but if the victim is a child under age 13 then a conviction will carry a mandatory minimum of life in prison.
Possession or Distribution of Child Pornography
The sexting and child pornography laws in the U.S. are harsh. Virginia is no exception. Under VA Code § 18.2-374.1, You will be charged with a child pornography offense if you knowingly possess, create, distribute, solicit, or facilitate child pornography. If you have been charged with possession or distribution of child pornography, then you will be subject to lawful seizure and forfeiture of any equipment or property that is alleged to have been used in conjunction with your offense.
VA Code § 18.2-374.3 – Virginia law states that if you are over the age of 18 and have knowingly and intentionally used a communication system to solicit, with sexual intent, a child known, or believed to be, less than 15 years of age, then you will be charged with a Class 5 Felony. For example, if you have used the Internet as a means to expose yourself to a child, then you will be charged under this statute.
VA Code § 18.2-60.3 – If you have been charged with stalking in Virginia, then you are alleged to have, on more than one occasion, engaged in conduct with the intent to place reasonable fear in the mind of another person. In most situations, the alleged victim is fearful that you will commit sexual assault or other bodily harm upon him or her. This offense is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
VA Code § 18.2-387 – Exposing yourself, or making an obscene display in public, is grounds for an indecent exposure charge in Virginia. An example of an obscene display that does not involve any actual nudity would be any acts related to simulated masturbation.
Object Sexual Penetration
VA Code § 18.2-67.2 – A charge for object sexual penetration means that you are being accused of allegedly penetrating the labia majora or anus of another person. You can also be charged with this offense if you cause another person to penetrate their own body, if you cause the alleged victim to penetrate the body of another individual, or if you cause the alleged victim to be penetrated by an animal.
Other elements of this crime include the victim being under the age of 13, the use or threat of force to commit the act, or the fact that you allegedly took advantage of the victim’s physical or mental incapacities. Object sexual penetration is a felony-level offense for which you can be sentenced to life in prison.
VA Code § 18.2-67.1 – If you take part in cunnilingus, fellatio, anilingus, or anal intercourse or cause your alleged victim to engage in these acts with another individual, you may find yourself being charged with forcible sodomy under Virginia law. You can also be charged with this offense if the alleged victim is under 13 years of age, if you use force or the threat of force to complete the act, or if you take advantage of the other individual’s mental and physical helplessness. Forcible sodomy is a felony punishable by potential life in prison.
VA Code § 18.2-346 – A charge of prostitution means that you are alleged to have committed adultery, fornicated, or performed other sexual acts in exchange for money or its equivalent. If you are facing prostitution charges then you could be facing penalties associated with a Class 1 Misdemeanor. However, if the charge also involves drugs, sexually transmitted diseases, or sexual activity with a minor, then the potential penalties could be much more severe.
Virginia Sex Crime Penalties
The consequences for sex crime conviction can vary from fines, probation, and sex offender registration to life imprisonment. Typically, violent sex crimes like rape carry the heaviest punishments.
For a misdemeanor sex crime, the maximum sentence is up to twelve months in jail and a $2,500 fine. You can also be sentenced to probation, a mental health assessment, and court-ordered treatment.
More serious sex crimes in Virginia are felonies and your punishment which includes prison time, sex offender registration, and other limitations will be based on its felony classification and any aggravating factors.
- Class 1 Felony – Life imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000
- Class 2 Felony – 20 years to life and a fine of up to $100,000
- Class 3 Felony – Five to 20 years and a fine of up to $100,000
- Class 4 Felony – Two to ten years imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000
Virginia Sex Offender Registration
Most Virginia sex offense convictions end with the addition of your name and information to the sex offender registry. This registry is publicly accessible and shows where you live, details about your conviction, and your punishment. This information will also need to be kept updated and failure to comply can result in additional criminal charges. The precise requirements for sex offender registration and possible removal should be discussed with your attorney.
Our Sex Crime Attorneys in Roanoke Can Help
If you’ve been charged with a sex crime in Virginia, the experienced Roanoke sex crimes defense attorneys at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico can help evaluate the details of your case and your options. For a free and confidential appointment at our Roanoke office, call us at (540) 343-9349.