Allegations of sexual misconduct can lead to some of the most serious charges one can face – and with good reason. Our society tends to place a high weight on sexual crimes and violations, which is useful in protecting people from harm.
Though the public sphere may be quick to judge a suspect in a sexual misconduct case, the legal system is still built on the presumption of innocence. This ensures that someone accused of sexual misconduct is not automatically found guilty. An accusation against that person must be proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt.
What Does ‘Sexual Misconduct’ Mean?
Rather than a specific offense, sexual misconduct is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of crimes of a sexual nature. Sexual misconduct can include violations of any of the following California Penal Codes:
- California Penal Code Section 243.4: Sexual Battery
- California Penal Code Section 261: Rape
- California Penal Code Section 261.5: Statutory Rape
- California Penal Code Section 262: Spousal Rape
- California Penal Code Section 269: Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child
- California Penal Code Section 288: Lewd Acts on a Minor Child
- California Penal Code Section 288.5: Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child
- California Penal Code Section 311: Child Pornography Laws
- California Penal Code Section 314: Indecent Exposure
- California Penal Code Section 647(a): Lewd Conduct
- California Penal Code Section 647(b): Prostitution & Solicitation
- California Penal Code Section 647.6: Annoying or Molesting a Child
All of these crimes are considered quite serious and can result in heavy penalties if you are convicted. It’s vital to understand the charges against you in order to best protect your rights.
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The Court of Public Opinion
We live in the information age. This era of having access to such vast amounts of information at the tips of your fingers is both a blessing and a curse. Both victims and those accused of sexual misconduct can simultaneously benefit and suffer under the public eye.
Social media has proven to be a great tool for victims of sexual misconduct. Sharing their stories and getting support from other victims across the world has inspired more and more people to come forward. While there are still many people afraid to name their abusers, those who do are not faced with the same level of isolation that they once were.
At the same time, victims who share their stories with the world are exposing themselves to attacks. Sadly, there are many people who spend great energy attacking victims and accusing them of all sorts of things.
Those accused of committing a sexual misconduct crime find themselves in much the same position regarding social media. They may receive some support from people who believe in their innocence, which can be helpful. They will also likely receive support from people who don’t feel like the crime they are accused of is actually a crime, which isn’t as helpful.
Most of the response from the public in relation to a person accused of sexual misconduct is condemnation. Fortunately, society has shifted in recent decades to shaming victims less and believing their stories more. Unfortunately, this can mean a tough road ahead for those who are innocent of the crime of which they have been accused.
The court of public opinion is quick to condemn when it comes to sexual misconduct charges. Even if the defendant is eventually found not guilty in the California court system, the stigma of the charges can be hard to erase. This is especially true if there wasn’t overwhelming proof of the defendant’s innocence but rather a lack of evidence of their guilt.
Potential Penalties of a Sexual Misconduct Conviction
Since there are so many different crimes that can fall under the umbrella of sexual misconduct, punishments vary on a wide spectrum. That said, there is often a mandatory sentence of jail or prison time that must be meted out by a judge if you are convicted of a sexual crime.
This means that even the most lenient judge will be forced to sentence the defendant to at least a minimum amount of jail time. With such serious consequences on the horizon, it is always a good idea to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can represent you in court and help avoid a conviction, if possible.
Sexual misconduct charges can be tried as either felonies or misdemeanors, depending on the specifics of each case. If convicted, you may face some of the following penalties:
- A misdemeanor conviction can result in a maximum of one year in county jail and a fine.
- A felony conviction can result in a minimum of 16 months in the state prison system as well as heftier fines in the $10,000 range.
- In many cases, registration as a sex offender is a condition of conviction. This can be for a limited time or for life, and failure to do so can cause serious consequences.
- If the sexual misconduct involved the use of force, or went on for an extended period of time, it is possible to receive a sentence of life in prison.
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Basic Defense Advice
Though the presumption of innocence is still the legal norm in a sexual misconduct case, a suspect’s actions can still influence the opinions of law enforcement and the court. It is critical to conduct yourself in certain ways when in the presence of the police. Talking to the police is almost always a mistake.
If police are questioning you for a sexual misconduct accusation, do not answer their questions without a lawyer present. However, do follow all of their instructions and do not resist an arrest. It is often the case that an innocent person will want to talk to the police and argue for their innocence.
This may seem like the logical thing to do if you are not guilty of the crime for which you have been arrested. Unfortunately, though, the police are tasked with gathering evidence against a person. Even an innocent person can inadvertently draw suspicion simply by talking without an experienced criminal defense attorney present.
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How Can an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Help?
Contacting a Los Angeles sex crimes lawyer is the most important step in defending yourself from a sexual misconduct allegation. Unfortunately, false accusations are not uncommon. Even though you are presumed innocent until proven guilty, the stigma of an accusation can stay with you regardless of a conviction.
Thankfully, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you in the following ways:
- They can gather evidence from specialists to back up your side of the story.
- They can use their knowledge to attack flimsy evidence used by the prosecution.
- They can talk with the prosecuting attorney to have the charges dropped for lack of evidence.
- They can ask the judge to dismiss the case because of a lack of evidence.
- They can aggressively defend you in court in order to get a sentence reduced or a charge dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor.
The experienced sex crimes lawyers at Simmrin Law Group can help protect your rights. Our attorneys can ensure that the court remembers you are innocent until proven guilty. If you have been accused of sexual misconduct, fill out our online contact form or give us a call. We are happy to offer a free, no-obligation consultation on your case.