man handcuffed

Must Juvenile Sex Offenders Be Added to the Sex Offender Registry?

Regardless of the age of the alleged perpetrator, sex crimes are taken very seriously. However, it’s important to acknowledge that how North Carolina treats juveniles fares very differently than adults despite certain similarities. So, what does this mean when it comes to registering as a public sex offender? Must juveniles who commit the same crimes as adult sex offenders register as public sex offenders? Here’s what to know. 

When Must a Juvenile Register?

In North Carolina, if a juvenile is convicted of certain sex offenses, a judge can require them to register as a sex offender. However, this is only true for certain crimes. Juvenile offenders over the age of 11 are commonly ordered to register as a sex offender if they are found guilty of any of the following offenses:

  • First-degree statutory rape
  • Second-degree statutory rape
  • First-degree forcible rape
  • Second-degree forcible rape
  • First-degree forcible sexual offense
  • Second-degree forcible sexual offense
  • Attempted sexual offense or rape
  • First-degree statutory sexual offense

It’s important to discern that the fact that a juvenile has been convicted of a sexual offense is not enough by itself to require that they register as a sex offender. They must be ordered by a judge, who has the freedom to make that decision. In making this decision he or she must look at whether the juvenile is a threat to the community. Juvenile offenders who are convicted are required to register for the public sex offender registry with the sheriff’s office. 

If a juvenile is charged as an adult for one of the sex crimes that require sex offender registration, then the child is required to do the same things as an adult offender would do. 

Requirements for Registering as a Sex Offender

When a juvenile is required to register as a sex offender in North Carolina, the court must make them aware of this requirement, have them sign a form acknowledging that they are aware that they must register, and receive all required information. The court will then file that information with the sheriff’s office. There is a separate registry for children versus adult offenders. 

If a juvenile on the sex offender registry changes their address, they must notify the court of the new address. It’s also important to note that the information on the sex offender registry must be verified as true through the court. 

The Attorneys at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Help Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with a Crime

It can be incredibly scary to be arrested, and even more frightening to learn that you are going to be prosecuted under the criminal justice system. Not only the outcome of the case, but the experience itself can have a major impact on your life. That is why it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you to fight these charges and obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

north carolina revenge porn

Does North Carolina Have a Law Against Revenge Porn?

There’s no doubt that breaking up is hard to do. Unfortunately, many people take the pain of a breakup and manifest it in harmful ways. They sometimes take petty and hurtful actions in order to hurt the other person. But while most of these actions aren’t illegal, there are some that cross the line.

With the increased prevalence of cell phones, many couples are taking more intimate photos and videos of themselves and one another. But when one person shares these images or videos without the permission of the other person(s) in them, this is illegal and is commonly known as “revenge porn.”

North Carolina Revenge Porn Laws

In 2017 North Carolina passed a new law that would allow the prosecution of an individual who took the photos or videos without the other person featured knowing. Previously, the law prohibited prosecution if the featured person didn’t know the images were taken. The 2017 law made prosecution possible in situations in which the featured person was unaware that their picture had been taken or they had been filmed.

The reason behind the change is that it was agreed that the act of taking someone’s picture or video in such a state without permission in and of itself seemed like a violation of privacy rights, so therefore sharing those same images without permission also seemed like a violation.

In order for someone to be convicted of revenge porn, they must:

  1. Share an intimate image of another person without their permission;
  2. The person who shared the image had mal-intent;
  3. There exists or existed a personal relationship between the parties; and
  4. There was a reasonable expectation of privacy.

1. Intimate Images

An image is considered “intimate” if it includes any of the following body parts:

  • Male or female genitalia
  • The female or male pubic area
  • The anus of either gender
  • The nipple, if a female is over age 12

These images are especially intimate when they include an identifying feature of the person pictured. 

2. Mal-Intent

There’s no doubt that it can be extremely embarrassing for any type of intimate picture to reach someone else’s eyes without your approval. However, in order to succeed on a revenge porn case the prosecution must be able to show that the individual who shared the image did so in order to do one of the following to the victim:

  • Harass
  • Intimidate
  • Demean
  • Humiliate
  • Coerce
  • Result in financial loss

It may also be enough to satisfy this factor if the person who shared the image with others knew that the others would act in one of the above manners.

3. Personal Relationship

What is considered a personal relationship under North Carolina law?

  • Current or former spouses
  • Persons of the opposite sex who currently live or have lived together
  • Parents and children, including designated guardians 
  • Those who have a child in common
  • Current or former household members
  • Persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship

4. Reasonable Expectation of Privacy 

In order to meet a reasonable expectation of privacy, it’s not enough for the defendant to state that the victim never explicitly told them to keep the image to themselves. An expectation of privacy need only be reasonable. A reasonable expectation of privacy is more easily proven in a personal relationship since trust is generally involved. 

What Are the Consequences?

Under North Carolina law, revenge porn is a Class H felony. However, for minors, their first-time offense can be tried as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Any subsequent offenses of the same nature would also result in being tried as a Class H felony. 

Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with a Crime

A criminal conviction for revenge porn in North Carolina can have a very long-lasting impact on your life. Not only can it affect your freedom, your rights, and your ability to obtain or keep certain jobs, but also it can have a permanent impact on your reputation. That’s why it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you fight these charges and obtain the best possible outcome for you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

criminal defense attorney speaking to jury

Are There Defenses to a Sex Crime Charge?

Sexual assault is a very serious criminal offense. While states vary slightly in how they define it, the elements of the crime remain the same. Sexual assault generally refers to a crime in which someone is subjected to unwanted sexual contact by another. These involuntary sexual interactions usually occur as a result of force or coercion. They may also occur when the victim is incapacitated. Incapacitation can occur in a couple of different ways: mental and physical.

Mental incapacitation occurs when an individual cannot understand the nature of the acts. This could be either their normal mental state if they suffer from certain mental disabilities or an altered mental state, such as intoxication due to alcohol. Physical incapacitation can occur when someone is restrained or is physically incapable of showing his or her objection, as is the case with date rape drugs. 

The term sexual assault is usually used to describe other crimes such as rape, though some jurisdictions differentiate between crimes involving coerced or consensual touch and those involving penetration, the latter of which is commonly held as a first-degree offense. Additionally, most states now provide protection against sexual assault to spouses. While it used to be that one could not commit sexual assault against his or her spouse, this is no longer the case. 

Defenses to Sex Crimes

Sex crimes are very serious and being accused of committing one should be taken very seriously. While there aren’t very many, there are a few defenses to such an accusation: he or she is innocent; he or she engaged in consensual sexual activity, or he or she can’t be held guilty due to mental disease or defect. 

1. Actual Innocence

Like all crimes, the most widely used defense is innocence. To prove innocence, an individual must generally be able to prove that it would be a physical impossibility to be guilty since they were at another location at the time or by providing a credible alibi. It’s the burden of the prosecution to prove that a defendant is guilty. The defendant will want to establish reasonable doubt. If he or she can do so then under the law the jury should acquit him or her.

2. Consensual Act

If a defendant can prove that the act was consensual, a crime does not exist. However, it’s important to understand whom – and who cannot – provide legal consent. Those without legal capacity cannot consent no matter what. This includes minors. If an individual engages in sexual activity with a minor, it is statutory and there can be no legal consent – even if there is verbal consent. 

3. Insanity or Mental Incapacity

When an individual is found to have had a mental disease or defect at the time that he or she engaged in a crime, he or she cannot be found guilty. For a successful insanity defense the defendant must demonstrate that while the defendant did commit the criminal activity, he or she suffered from a mental disease or defect at the time, which prevented them from understanding the criminal nature of their actions. 

Attorney Joel Hancock at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with a Sexual Crime

If you or a loved one has been charged with a sexual crime, it is a very serious matter. An individual convicted of a sexual crime can face numerous serious consequences. It often leads to lengthy jail sentences and hefty fines and will continue to impact you even after your sentence has been served. A felony can affect your ability to obtain or keep certain jobs and can permanently impact your reputation. That’s why it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that he or she can work to reduce or even dismiss these charges. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you fight these charges and obtain the best possible outcome for you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

online dating app

The Risks of “Catfishing” and Sex Crimes in North Carolina

With the growth of the Internet and specifically social media, it’s extremely easy to connect with people across the world. However, what’s not as easy is knowing to whom you are actually speaking. “Catfishing,” or an interaction in which someone pretends to be someone else, can be extremely disheartening. But what many people fail to consider is that under certain situations it can also be illegal. 

When someone uses another’s identity, it is very likely that he or she is committing fraud. By establishing a fake profile the “catfisher” could be guilty of defamation, impersonation, and even infringement of intellectual property. Additionally, if the individual who is posing as another initiates any type of sexual activity with a minor, including the solicitation of photos or video, he or she can be charged with a sex crime. 

On the flip side, if an individual is “catfished” by a minor and made to believe that he or she is of age, the target can actually be guilty of sexual crimes for engaging in sexual activity with him or her – regardless of the fact that such activity was prefaced on the belief that the minor was an adult. 

The Age of Consent 

In North Carolina, the age of consent is 16 years. Therefore, it is illegal for an adult (someone age 18 or older) to engage in any sexual activity with a minor (someone below the age of 16) – even if such activity is consensual. 

Sometimes minors want to receive more attention or to act or sound older than they are so he or she will falsely claim to be 16 or older. The problem lies with the fact that not knowing a minor’s true age is not a valid legal defense to a sex crime. 

Additionally, if someone believing that the other person is of age solicits any sexual activity from a catfisher who is underage, he or she can be charged with solicitation of a minor. Again, it doesn’t matter that the individual was misled. 

The severity of the charges is dependent upon what the defendant is accused of, his or her age, and his or her criminal history. 

For example:

  • Statutory rape when the minor is 13, 14, or 15 and the defendant is more than 6 years older, or the rape or sexual offense of a child is considered a Class B1 felony, punishable by up to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 
  • If someone commits statutory rape when the minor is 13, 14, or 15 and the defendant is 4-6 years older, it is considered a Class C felony and is punishable by up to 182 months in prison. 
  • First-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and child molestation are also very serious sex crimes punishable by lengthy prison sentences.  

Attorney Joel Hancock at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with a Sex Crime

If you have been charged with a sex crime – especially one involving a minor – it is very serious. A conviction of such a crime can greatly impact your life.  That’s why it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you fight these charges and obtain the best possible outcome for you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!