Any allegation of a sex-related offense is an extremely serious matter. The mere accusation, let alone actual consequences of a conviction, can have devastating effects upon a person’s personal life/reputation, employment/career, and other hobbies/activities (Boy & Girl Scout Leader, professional memberships, community volunteering). Also, given that it is difficult, if not impossible, to conceal such accusations, and given the lengthy period of time often required to “defend” against a sex crime accusation, the harm to the accused may be irreparable! Like any criminal matter, for anyone charged (or who is the subject of a criminal investigation), it is important to speak to any attorney immediately about the details of what happened so that an appropriate defense strategy can be developed and initiated right away.
The strategy may take the form of witness interviews being conducted by a private investigator to verify or challenge the credibility (or, lack thereof) of the victim’s story and statement, and analysis of the physical evidence available (DNA samples, medical/psychological reports, photos, video/audio recordings, text messaging, etc.). In cases where a client appears to bear some level of criminal responsibility, it is appropriate to consider employing “damage control measures” that may be undertaken by the client, specifically, professional and regularly scheduled sex-offender counselling. Depending on the complexities of each case, such efforts may allow the attorney to share information/evidence with the prosecutor that may cause him/her to reject or dismiss a case, or perhaps to reduce the charge and avoid one of the most burdensome penalties associated with sex-offense convictions, to register as a sex offender.
In 2017, California enacted a new three-tiered system (SB 384) for designating for how long a defendant is required to register as a sex offender for certain sex offenses (Penal Code section 290). For some misdemeanor and felony sex offenses (Tier 1), the registration requirement with local law enforcement is a minimum 10 years. For Tier 2 offenses, the registration requirement is 20 years. Finally, for Tier 3 offenses, sex registration is a lifetime requirement. Failure to register can result in either a new misdemeanor or felony offense, punishable up to one year in county jail or 3 years in state prison.
As mentioned above, the mere accusation of a sex-related offense is extremely difficult to bear. And, when coupled with a conviction for the offense, the effect of also having to register as a sex offender can be crushing blow to a person’s reputation and livelihood. However, by speaking with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney, this requirement may be able to be skillfully avoided by a sound strategy and effective presentation.
While there are countless sex-related offenses listed in the Penal Code, the following discussions include some of the more common offenses, as well as defenses available to fight or mitigate the charge. If you do not see the offense you are looking for listed below, feel free to contact attorney, Jeffrey D. Armendariz, for further information.