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!

Students walking on a college campus.

Accusations of Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Unfortunately for the many individuals impacted, sexual assault has proved to be one of the most common safety issues plaguing college campuses. A study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which included 5,000 college students who were enrolled in more than 100 schools, yielded results showing that 20 percent of individuals reported being raped. With more high profile cases, such as Brock Turner, a man convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman outside of a fraternity house, the issue of sexual assault has been highlighted. With this, college administrators have taken accusations of sexual assault much more seriously, resulting in harsher consequences for those found guilty. 

Although many students who have been accused of sexual assault share their side of the story, believing that it will help the allegations to go away, this is not usually what transpires. Instead, an investigation will commonly come underway.

What Acts Are Considered Sexual Assault or Rape?

There are a few different acts that constitute sexual assault. These include:

  • Using force or the threat of force to make a person have sexual contact without their consent
  • Engaging in sexual contact with an individual who is unable to provide consent due to drugs or alcohol
  • Engaging in sexual contact with someone who is incapable of consent by way of mental, intellectual, or physical disability

Rape is considered the most serious act of sexual assault and occurs when non-consensual sexual intercourse takes place. But no matter the degree of sexual assault with which you have been charged, it is imperative that you take such charges very seriously. 

Investigation on Campus

Colleges and universities that receive federal funding are mandated to comply with federal laws concerning on-campus sexual assault. This includes laws such as those under the Clery Act as well as under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. These laws include strict steps that a school must take to prevent and report acts of sexual assault on campus. 

If a student is found to have committed one of these acts, the school will usually impose his or her suspension or expulsion. Once you have been expelled from school for rape or sexual assault, it is very unlikely that you will be accepted into a new program by another reputable university or college.

Criminal Investigation

Aside from the penalties your school will impose if they find you to be guilty of such an act, your school will likely report the alleged crime to local law enforcement, which will then begin its own investigation. Those who are found guilty of criminal sexual assault or rape will face high fines, lengthy prison sentences, and numerous other life-long consequences.

Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with On-Campus Sexual Assault

If you or a loved one has been charged with an on-campus sexual assault, it can permanently impact the rest of your life. With so much at stake, it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney. At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC we know how serious a sex crime accusation is and will work to ensure that your rights are protected and that you are not unjustly punished. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!