Chester County Juvenile Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer
Many states have been forced to rethink the policies associated with juvenile sex crimes as those crimes relate to the sex offender registry. Pennsylvania is one such state, ending lifetime registration for juveniles convicted of a sex crime. Many concerns have been raised regarding the effect of putting juveniles’ names and photos on a registry, whether that registry is available to the public, or only to law enforcement. Being placed on the sex registry can unfairly expose juveniles to the stigmatism associated with any sex crime, even if the crime was for inappropriate behavior rather than a more serious sex crime.
As an example, consider the case of a 10-year old Michigan girl who spent time in jail after she and her younger brothers “flashed” one another. When the girl turned 18, she was placed on the state’s adult sex registry—a punishment which seems extreme for the actual “crime.” Since the recidivism rate for juvenile sex offenders is less than 5 percent, requiring juveniles to be placed on the sex registry simply does not make sense—and can completely ruin the future of the juvenile.
The Negative Consequences of Placing Juveniles on the Sex Registry
Juveniles placed on a sex registry list are much more likely to be targeted by police, charged with new offenses, than those juveniles who were not required to register. The state of Pennsylvania’s lifetime registration requirement for juvenile sex crimes was overturned by the state’s Supreme Court in 2014. Even so, there are many adverse consequences for a juvenile convicted of a sex crime in the state of Pennsylvania. If your child has been charged with a sex crime, the best thing you can do is immediately contact an experienced Chester County juvenile sex crimes defense attorney who has significant experience in defending juveniles charged with a sex crime.
Ensuring Your Child’s Charges Remain in Juvenile Court
The goal of the Pennsylvania juvenile system is, ostensibly, rehabilitation rather than punishment. That being said, it is a serious mistake for parents to assume their juvenile will be handled gently in the criminal justice system, after being charged with a sex crime. The very first thing your Chester County defense attorney will address, is keeping your child’s charges in the Pennsylvania juvenile system—where they belong. This will immediately minimize your child’s exposure to the severe penalties associated with adult sex crime cases. Your Philadelphia juvenile sex crimes attorney can answer your questions, relieving at least a portion of the stress you are experiencing. In many instances, your child may have legal rights and options which can result in a much better outcome, once your attorney has taken the case.
Sex Crimes Juveniles May Be Charged With
A juvenile can be charged with any sex crime an adult can be charged with, including:
- Sexual assault;
- Sexual assault of a child;
- Aggravated sexual assault;
- Indecency with a child;
- Date rape;
- Indecent exposure;
- Lewd acts;
- Possession of child pornography;
- Internet sex crimes;
- Attempted sexual assault, and
What is “Sexting”?
Sexting is a much more common offense among teen agers than among adults. Sexting is the practice of sending erotic, pornographic or explicit photographs or videos through an electronic device, including a computer, an iPod, a cell phone or a tablet. Until 2012, Pennsylvania had no specific laws regarding sexting, therefore these actions were covered under the state’s child pornography laws. Since Pennsylvania’s child pornography laws were meant to hand down harsh punishment to adults who solicit pornographic images from underage juveniles, a teenage sexting conviction could result in extremely harsh punishments.
Teen Sexting on the Rise
Teen sexting is on the rise across the nation and in the state of Pennsylvania—20 percent of teens in the state admit to sending nude or suggestive photographs of themselves to peers via their cell phone. Since this translates into one in every five teens having sent an explicit photo to another teen, you can see the potential for extremely serious charges and penalties.
New Pennsylvania Laws Specifically Address Teen Sexting
The new Pennsylvania sexting laws criminalized the transmission of sexually explicit images by those under the age of 18. The law prohibits the transmission, distribution or sharing of any electronic communication which contains a nude image of the person sending it, or any person older than 12, but younger than 18. The law also prohibits a teen from possessing a nude photo of another person between the ages of 12 and 17.
Teen sexting will be punished much more severely if the photos are shared with others without the explicit permission of the photographed teen in an attempt to harass or bully the teen. Prosecutors in the state have even struggled with making teen sexting a criminal issue at all, or a domestic issue to be dealt with at home or school. One factor that makes that decision even more complex is that in some cases, teen sexting is accompanied by cyber-bullying.
This can happen when a young, naïve girl sends a suggestive photograph to her boyfriend at the time, then that young man shares the photo with friends, even placing it on the Internet. At this point, a suggestive photo of a young girl is forever emblazoned on the Internet for real predators to see, plus the young girl is forced to deal with the humiliation and a damaged reputation.
Penalties for a Pennsylvania Conviction of Teen Sexting
Generally speaking, teen sexting cases are handled in juvenile court where the judges are allowed more discretion as far as penalties than in adult criminal court. A teen who is found to possess nude images of other teens or who share nude images of him or herself, can be convicted of a summary offense, which is punishable by as much as three months in county jail, and fines as large as $300. The teen may also be referred to the state’s juvenile diversionary program. This is an educational program which teaches the teen about the serious consequences associated with sexting. If a teen is referred to the diversionary program, and completes it successfully, he or she will have the sexting charges expunged.
Contact Our West Chester Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyers
If your child has been charged with a juvenile sex crime in West Chester, Philadelphia, Lancaster, or anywhere in the State of Pennsylvania, it is crucial you speak to an experienced West Chester juvenile criminal defense attorney in order to ensure your child’s rights are protected.
The Chester County criminal defense attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices have successfully represented individuals throughout the state of Pennsylvania that have been accused of sex crimes. Our Chester County law firm is based at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19380 and serves clients in Kennett Square, Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville, Exton, Chester Springs, Chadds Ford, Landenberg, Honey Brook, Oxford, Malvern, Parkesburg, Phoenixville, and Paoli. Contact us now at (610) 692-8700 or call toll free (877) 529-2422. Don’t wait—contact an attorney immediately.