Sex crimes carry a unique and persistent stigma, and they are taken seriously by the state of North Carolina. A conviction may require registration as a sex offender, which will have severe repercussions for your job, your freedom, and your reputation. If you have been accused of a sex crime, you need immediate and aggressive legal defense. At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we understand the challenges of defending against these accusations, and we know how to protect the rights of our clients.
What Are Common Sex Crimes in North Carolina?
There are numerous sexual offenses with which a person may be charged, but some of the more common ones are:
- Rape, including date rape
- Statutory rape
- Indecent liberties with a minor
- Sexual battery
- Child pornography
- Prostitution and solicitation of prostitution
Our firm represents defendants who have been charged with these and many other sex crimes. Each of these has its own elements that must be proven in a court of law before the state can secure a conviction.
How Is Rape Charged?
Rape, or forcible rape, involves someone forcing a victim to engage in vaginal or anal intercourse against his or her will. It also includes forced oral sex. You may be charged with first- or second-degree rape. First-degree rape involves one or more of the following:
- Use of a deadly or dangerous weapon
- Infliction of serious injury upon the victim
- Assistance from another individual
Generally, any other rape will be charged as second-degree. Second-degree rape also includes forced intercourse with someone who is mentally or physically disabled. Both degrees of rape are charged as felonies and carry significant prison time and other punishments.
Date rape charges raise questions about whether the victim consented to sexual intercourse or was impaired. Prosecutors will be looking for evidence that the victim was under the influence of drugs (including date rape drugs) or alcohol. Someone under the influence may not be able to give consent. Also, lack of resistance to sex does not imply consent.
How Is Statutory Rape Charged?
Statutory rape charges involve issues of age, age differences, and lack of consent due to age. You may be charged with statutory rape of a minor if any of the following are true:
- The minor is under 13 years of age and you are 18 years of age or older
- The minor is under 13 years of age and you are at least 4 years older
- The minor is under 15 years of age and you are at least 6 years older
These charges also encompass the performance of a sex act with a minor under the applicable age ranges and differences above. Aggravating factors can enhance the punishment, but generally, a person convicted of this felony will face years in prison and monitoring for the rest of his or her life.
What Are Indecent Liberties With A Minor?
A person who is over the age of 16, and who takes or attempts to take any immoral liberties with a minor who is at least 5 years younger, may be charged with this. This involves any attempt to take sexual gratification with a child, including touching or contact for purposes of obtaining sexual gratification. It is not limited to sexual penetration but includes any sort of touching for purposes of becoming sexually aroused. With the exception of indecent liberties between children (where the defendant is under the age of 16), these crimes are charged as felonies.
What Is Sexual Battery?
Sexual battery means engaging in sexual contact with a person against their will. This crime does not require sexual penetration but can include unwanted sexual contact of a person’s breasts, genitals, anus, groin, or buttocks. The behavior must have been performed for purposes of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse. It also includes sexual contact performed on someone with a mental disability or someone considered physically helpless.
Although sexual behavior is charged as a misdemeanor, if convicted you may be imprisoned for up to a year and will be required to register as a sex offender.
How Is Child Pornography Charged?
Creating, distributing, and possessing child pornography is illegal in North Carolina. These charges are also known more generally as sexual exploitation of a minor. You can be charged with first-, second-, or third-degree sexual exploitation charges:
- First-degree: if you coerce or allow a child to participate in creating child pornography
- Second-degree: if you distribute, sell, buy, exhibit, or share child pornography
- Third-degree: if you possess or view child pornography
All of these are felonies and will require anyone who is convicted to register as a sex offender.
How Is Prostitution Charged?
Taking, requesting, paying, or offering compensation in exchange for sex acts is prostitution. You may be charged with actually engaging in prostitution or merely soliciting it.
Most prostitution offenses are charged as misdemeanors, although you can still face jail time. However, prostitution (or solicitation of prostitution) involving a minor is a felony and anyone convicted of it will need to register as a sex offender.
What Are Possible Defenses To Sex Crimes?
Some crimes in which the age of the victim is relevant, such as statutory rape, do not have consent or mistaken age defenses. This may be a defense to other charges, however. The exact charge you are facing, and the circumstances surrounding them, will lead your attorney to possible defenses. There are a few other defenses that may apply:
- Unreliable witness testimony
- False or questionable accusations, including undermining the accuser’s motive
- Mistaken identity
- Evidence of consent
- DNA evidence
- Inappropriate sting operations, surveillance, and other government activity
- Prosecution or police bias
Contact Our Dedicated Sex Crimes Defense Attorney Today
Because North Carolina’s statutes are complicated, you need a dedicated and skilled defense attorney on your side. At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we will vigorously challenge the state’s evidence against you and ensure that any available defenses are used. Contact us today to discuss your case.