Finding the Right Sex Crimes Lawyer
The Importance of Retaining a Sex Crimes Defense Attorney Immediately Following Charges
If you have been charged with a sex crime in the state of Pennsylvania, you may already be aware of the negative impact the charges have had on your family life. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning. When the news of your charges become public, you could suffer in many areas of your life, including your job, your friends, your extended family, and your church family (if you attend church). You will find out a most-dismaying fact about allegations of sex crimes. Even those who know you best, may not remain in your corner following the news of your sex offense charges. You spouse, your children, your siblings, and even your parents may look at you differently, and if you think your co-workers are talking behind your back about your charges—you are probably right.
Sex Offenses in the United States
At any given time, as many as 150,000 out of the 1.5 million people housed in federal and state prisons, are those convicted of a sex crime. About 40 percent of the sex offenses are for rape, while the remaining 60 percent are for other sex crimes, including indecent exposure, child pornography, Internet sex crimes, and failure to register as a sex offender. Whether innocent or guilty, once you have served your sentence, there is no going back to your live as it was prior to the charges. It is now time to be placed on the sex offender registry—where anyone with a computer can go online and find out where you live, where you work (if you are able to find a job), what you drive, what you look like, and all the details of your sex offense conviction.
No ”Minor” Sex Offenses
Unfortunately, in the eyes of our society, there is no such thing as a “minor” sex crime. Although we look at other crimes in terms of severity (i.e. shoplifting a blouse vs. embezzling thousands of dollars), we tend to look at all sex crimes in the same light. Further, unless you have a highly-experienced attorney by your side, sex offenses tend to be almost a slam dunk for the prosecution. Jurors are simply too eager to believe the allegations of the accuser, even when those allegations are totally untrue. Consider the fact that something as minor as a charge based on a romantic encounter between consenting teens—depending on their ages—can result in time behind bars and a mandate to register as a sex offender.
Negative Consequences of a Conviction for a Sex Offense
As you can gather, the general public’s opinion about sex offenders is far from positive. Many people don’t want those convicted of a sex offense living in a residential neighborhood, and the assumptions they make about sex offenders are widespread, even though they may not be realistic. As an example, many people believe there is no successful treatment for sex offenders, and that those who committed one sex offense are highly likely to re-offend. If you are convicted of a sex offense, you will almost certainly experience the following:
· You will likely be required to register as a sex offender;
· Once registered, there will be limits placed on you as far as where you can live, work, or travel;
· You will be unable to participate in any activity involving children, even those which are religion-related;
· You will be unable to obtain a professional license;
· You will probably have difficulty obtaining employment, no matter how well-qualified you are;
· You will have difficulty finding a place to live;
· Your custody rights could be adversely affected;
· You will be unable to obtain a government student loan to continue your education;
· You could be prohibited from owning a firearm;
· Your access to websites and social media will be restricted, and
· Your regular daily activities may be monitored by law enforcement.
The punishments associated with sexual offenders can even lead to unemployment and homelessness, making it that much more difficult for rehabilitation to occur. Even if you are fortunate enough to have family support, and to be able to find employment, you may still find it difficult to fit back into your community and regain the opportunities others enjoy. Once you have the label of “sex offender,” it can feel as though you will never regain a sense of normalcy and be able to move beyond the label.
How Registration as a Sex Offender Will Change Your Life
While spending time in prison is certainly a terrible ordeal to endure, if you were in prison for a sex offense, even though you have served your time, your ordeal is far from over. The most serious and permanent consequence of a sex offense—even a minor one—is registration as a sex offender. Unlike other criminal offenses, where you are able to start over after serving your sentence, sexual offense registration will stay with you for the remainder of your life.
In the state of Pennsylvania, there are three “tiers” or levels of sex offenders, and the tier determines how long you will be required to register for, and how often you will have to report to the state police office. If you are considered a Tier 1 offender (crimes like corruption of a minor, institutional sexual assault and unlawful restraint) you must register for 15 years, and report once a year at the Pennsylvania State Police barracks to have your photo taken.
If you are a Tier 2 offender (crimes like unlawful contact with a minor, indecent assault, and prostitution involving a minor), you will be required to register for 25 years and appear twice a year at the Pennsylvania State Police barracks. If you are a Tier 3 offender (crimes like rape, incest and aggravated indecent assault), you must register for life, and must report to the Pennsylvania State Police barracks every ninety days for the remainder of your life.
The Loss of Your Right to Appeal
Perhaps you—like many defendants accused of a sex crime—were coerced into a plea bargain. You may have been told—and you believed—that by accepting the plea bargain you would not have to put your family through the embarrassment of a trial. What you may not have been told is that once you accept a plea bargain, you have nearly always waived your right to an appeal.
Even if new evidence arises (even an admission by your accuser that he or she made up the allegations) you are unlikely to be eligible for a new trial. It is a far better idea to trust the skill of your Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney, asserting your defense at trial rather than avoiding the fight. It is an absolute fact that the most competently prepared cases with an attorney who fights zealously for his or her client’s rights, increase your chance for an acquittal.
How an Experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
With all the negative consequences associated with a conviction for a sex offense, you can see how important it is to have a skilled Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney by your side from the moment you are charged with a sex offense. Your attorney will analyze the evidence and provide you with the most zealous, competent legal representation possible.
The sex crimes defense attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices have successfully represented individuals throughout the state of Pennsylvania that have been accused of sexual assault crimes. Our Chester County based law firm is based at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19380 and serves clients in Kennett Square, Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville, , Chester Springs, Chadds Ford, Landenberg, Honey Brook, Oxford, Malvern, Parkesburg, Phoenixville and . Contact us now at (610) 692-8700 or call toll free (877) 529-2422. Don’t wait—contact an attorney immediately.