A plea bargain for a sex crime will end up on your permanent record. However, the consequences of your plea agreement will likely be far less severe than what you would face if you were convicted outright.
A plea bargain entails you pleading guilty or “no contest” to a crime. Through plea bargaining, you may be able to get a reduction in charges and/or sentencing. In this way, you might be able to avoid a sex crime charge on your record if you instead plead guilty to another charge. This could keep you from having to register as a sex offender.
Sex Crime Charges in California
In the state of California, sex crimes are taken very seriously. The state defines a sex crime as any crime of a sexual nature, and they can be prosecuted as either felonies or misdemeanors. Sex crimes in Los Angeles range from rape to certain forms of public lewdness.
Those convicted of any form of a sex crime must register as a sex offender. Being a registered sex offender can affect every aspect of your life. It can make it difficult to find work and housing. It can also put a strain on your relationships and make forming new ones very difficult.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, many of those who deserve to be punished are receiving their comeuppance. Unfortunately, though, this also means that more innocent people are getting caught in the crossfire. Our Los Angeles sex crimes lawyers have experience helping our clients avoid the devastating consequences that can follow a conviction.
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Plea Bargains for Sex Crimes
Plea bargains are deals offered in exchange for the defendant pleading guilty. In exchange, the defendant receives either a reduced charge, sentence, or often both. These deals get made so that everyone involved can avoid both the costs and uncertainty of going to trial.
If you accept a plea bargain, you may be able to avoid jail time. In sex crime cases, you may also be able to avoid registering as a sex offender if you plea guilty to a lesser charge that is not sexual in nature. However, it is especially important when dealing with a sex crime charge that you know what you’re getting into before you accept the deal.
The Downside of Plea Bargains
The downside to accepting a plea bargain is that you will still receive a conviction. You will also lose certain rights that you would have lost anyway, had you lost at trial, such as the right to vote. However, being convicted of a lesser charge can make a huge difference when you’re filling out your next job application or applying for ownership of a gun.
For sex crimes, in particular, it is crucial that you have an experienced attorney by your side to evaluate the evidence against you, the evidence you have to support your case, and any potential deals you may be offered. This is a situation that should be handled very carefully by someone who has extensive experience in this area.
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Sex Crime Allegations We Defend Against
At the Simmrin Law Group, we are no strangers to defending those accused of sex crimes. Some of the crimes we have been retained to defend against in the past have included, but are not limited to:
- Sexual battery/assault
- Indecent exposure
- Lewd conduct
- Soliciting a prostitute
Even a more mild sex crime offense can result in serious consequences. In addition to hiring a lawyer, it is important to self-educate about your situation. While an experienced lawyer will be able to explain your situation clearly, having additional knowledge will help you make informed decisions about your defense.
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Defenses Used in Sex Crime Cases
There are a variety of defenses that can be used in a sex crime case. The approach that you and your lawyer choose will depend upon the specifics of your situation. Some of the more common defenses used to combat accusations of these crimes include:
- The prosecution’s ability to prove the victim’s story
- A reasonable belief that you had consent
- Lack of sexual contact
- Insufficient evidence
- False accusation
Even if you feel that you have an airtight defense, it is always a good idea to attempt to knock down the prosecution’s case in as many ways as possible. You don’t want a surprise to pop up that could derail your primary defense and find yourself without a backup plan.
Possible Penalties for a Sex Crime Conviction
If convicted of a sex crime, you could face myriad consequences, including:
- Prison time, in a state or county jail
- The requirement to disclose your conviction on future job applications
- The loss of certain rights, such as the right to own a gun
No matter what other penalties you receive, anyone convicted of a sex crime must register as a sex offender on the Megan’s Law website. This registration is permanent, and failure to register is, in itself, a crime.
Mitigating Circumstances in Sentencing
Individuals who are accused of a sex crime in the state of California are permitted the opportunity to present “mitigating factors” during their sentencing. Mitigating factors are actually the opposite of aggravating circumstances, which are elements that will encourage a judge to issue a harsher sentence.
This is to say that the term “mitigating factors” refers to any information or evidence that may help reduce your charges and/or sentence. In a sex crimes case, such mitigating factors may include, but are not limited to:
- Having no prior record
- A mistaken belief that your behavior was legal
- Your voluntary admission of wrongdoing early in the case
A defendant who presents one or more of the above may be given a lesser sentence by the judge.
Unsure If You Should Take the Deal? Call Us!
It may be tempting to accept a plea bargain, especially for a charge that you want to distance yourself from as soon as possible. But how can you be sure that the deal you’re taking is in your best interests?
At the Simmrin Law Group, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers can evaluate your deal. We can help you determine whether what you’ve been offered is worth taking or if further negotiation is warranted.