Molestation Accusations in West Chester PA
Molestation Accusations in Pennsylvania
If you have been accused of molestation in the state of Pennsylvania, you are facing very serious charges which can affect your future, your reputation, and your freedom. While sexual abuse of children should be prosecuted and punished, in some cases people—including jurors—forget that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and let the stigma attached to any sex crime overwhelm the truth. When the threat of prosecution for charges of molestation are real, you need the most experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney to fight for your rights. With a knowledgeable attorney on your case as quickly as possible, you stand the best chance of a positive outcome to your charges.
What is Child Molestation?
In the state of Pennsylvania, child molestation can involve a range of sexual or indecent activities between an adult and a child (usually under the age of 14). Child molestation is sometimes referred to as pedophilia, however under the Pennsylvania statutes, child molestation involves specific, legally defined actions. In other words, the psychological makeup of a pedophile may not cover all incidences of child molestation.
There may be other motivations for the actions of a person who commits the act of child molestation, rather than an ongoing sexual attraction to children. No matter how it is labeled, it is unlawful for an adult to touch a child’s body with “lewd and lascivious” intent. Consent is not an issue in child molestation, because a child cannot legally consent to such acts. The criminal penalties associated with a conviction of child molestation are extremely severe, including being mandated to register as a sex offender, possibly for life, and a prison sentence which could also include life in prison.
Penalties for Molestation in Pennsylvania
The crime of molestation can cover a number of unlawful acts against a minor. Under 18 Pennsylvania Criminal Statutes, Section 3121, the rape of a child is classified as a first-degree felony, while under 18 Pennsylvania Criminal Statutes, Section 3125, even slight penetration of the genitals or anus of a minor who is under the age of 13 is a first-degree felony and could be charged as aggravated indecent assault. Indecent assault, or any type of indecent contact with a minor who is under the age of 13 is detailed under 18 Pennsylvania Criminal Statutes, Section 3126, and is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. Molestation may further be described as:
· When an adult looks at a child’s sexual or intimate parts for the purpose of sexual gratification;
· When an adult engages in any act—or failure to act—which result in the sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a minor under the age of 18;
· When an adult acts—or fails to act—in a manner which creates an immediate risk of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a minor under the age of 18;
· When an adult persuades, induces, entices, or coerces a child to engage in sexually explicit conduct;
· When an adult engages in actual or simulated sexual activity with a minor under the age of 18, in order to film, videotape, photograph, visually depict or depict on a computer those activities;
· When an adult persuades, induces, entices or coerces a child to participate in a sexually explicit conversation via telephone, in person, or through a computer for the purpose of sexual gratification;
· When an adult engages in simulated sexual activity, actual sexual activity or nudity for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification, or
· Any of these offenses which are committed against a child: statutory sexual assault, sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent exposure, indecent assault, incest, sexual abuse, prostitution, or aggravated indecent assault.
If you are convicted of a first-degree felony in the state of Pennsylvania, you could face up to 20 years in prison, and up to $25,000 in fines. If you are convicted of a second-degree felony in the state of Pennsylvania, you could face up to 10 years in prison, and up to $25,000 in fines. If you are convicted of a third-degree felony in the state of Pennsylvania, you could face up to seven years in prison, and up to $15,000 in fines. If you are convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor in the state of Pennsylvania, you could face up to five years in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines.
Additionally, under Megan’s Law, you will be required to register as a sex offender. The length of time and how often you will be required to appear in person to have your photo taken are dependent on whether your crime classifies as a Tier I, Tier II or Tier III offense. For a Tier I offense, you are required to register as a sex offender for a period of fifteen years, appearing annually to have your photo taken. For a Tier II offense, you are required to register as a sex offender for a period of 25 years, appearing every six months to have your photo taken, and for a Tier III offense, you are required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of your life, appearing every three months to have your photo taken.
Defenses Against Child Molestation Charges
In order to avoid a conviction of child molestation charges, your Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney will explore all potential defenses on your behalf, and may use one of the following defenses:
· False memories or a false accusation by the child. There are some instances when false memories may have been planted in a child’s mind by a parent, law enforcement or psychologists, either deliberately or inadvertently. In extremely contentious child custody cases, such memories may have been planted by the other parent who wants sole custody of the child.
· Mistaken identity can be an issue, particularly in younger children, who could become confused about who actually molested them, or a simple misunderstanding which results in an accusation against the wrong person.
· There may be a lack of evidence regarding the molestation charges.
Allegations of molestation are particularly difficult criminal charges to face, due to the stigma attached to the mistreatment of children. Your Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney will understand the complexity of your molestation charges, as well as how emotionally charged the situation can become. Your attorney will protect your rights, contest the evidence, and demand that the Commonwealth fully approve their allegations.
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.