Berkeley Sex Crimes Lawyer
Criminal accusations or convictions that are sexual in nature have far-reaching consequences. You can not only face fines, sex offender registration, and time in prison, but a conviction or even an accusation of a sex crime can permanently tarnish your reputation and leave your business, social, and familial relationships devastated. Fortunately, you can combat these adverse outcomes by seeking the advice of a Berkeley sex crimes attorney as soon as an investigation or complaint arises. Our experienced defense attorneys frequently represent people in such matters and dedicate themselves to protecting the rights of the accused and demanding justice.
The earlier an individual secures a sex crimes lawyer the sooner the lawyer can begin protecting their rights during the course of an investigation. It is critical that individuals contact a sex crimes lawyer as soon as they are faced with an accusation of a sex crime, are arrested for a sex crime, catch wind of a looming investigation, or have been charged with actual sex offenses. Time is of the essence in sex crime cases.
Sexual Offenses in Berkeley
“Sex crimes” is an umbrella term for numerous unlawful behaviors related to illegal sexual activities. Rape (defined at California Penal Code §§ 261 – 264), forced oral copulation or sodomy, pimping, pandering, human trafficking, child pornography, and lewd conduct offenses may be some of the most recognized sex crimes. In addition to these violations, a long list of sex-related conduct can land someone into trouble with the law.
The law establishes separate crimes for indecent behaviors involving children, such as:
- Manufacture, possession, or distribution of child pornography
- Unlawful intercourse with a minor
- Child molestation
- Lewd acts involving minors
- Sexting with a minor
Any of these can subject the accused to severe punishments and collateral consequences. With the help of a seasoned Berkeley sex crimes attorney familiar with the criminal justice system and the specific area of sex crimes, those accused of sex crimes can be afforded protections and have their rights preserved. An experienced sex crimes lawyer can help the accused understand the course of an investigation, the life cycle of a sex crimes case, the potential consequences, and appropriate defenses based on the accusations, elements of the crime, and evidence that has been collected.
Misdemeanors Versus Felonies
As identified in Cal. Penal Code § 16, California categorizes criminal activity into felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions. Sex crimes fall into either the felony or misdemeanor grouping, not infractions. Examples of straight misdemeanor offenses include acts of public lewdness and loitering to engage in prostitution. Felony offenses are the more serious, and examples include forcible rape, oral copulation, and sodomy. The reason these are treated so severely is because they involve sexual activity where one person does not consent to it. Sex crimes involving children, incompetent individuals, and other vulnerable individuals who are incapable of formulating consent are also treated very harshly. Sex crimes involving those who cannot consent have severe penalties including lengthy state prison sentences and lifetime sex offender registration.
Some sexual offenses are considered “wobblers”, which means that the prosecutor has the discretion to pursue the matter as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The facts of the case, prior criminal record, and other aggravating or mitigating circumstances will factor into the final charge. However, even if the prosecutor decides to bring felony counts, Cal. Penal Code § 17 empowers the court to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor during sentencing, when granting probation, or if the defendant requests the change after completing probation. Even if a matter is resolved as a misdemeanor, most sex crimes, even misdemeanor sex crimes, require sex offender registration. There are a handful of offenses that do not require sex offender registration like Penal Code section 647 – Lewd Conduct and what is commonly called “statutory rape” under Penal code section 261.5. Keep in mind thought that a judge can require sex offender registration on non-registerable offenses if the judge finds that the person committed the offense because of a sexual compulsion or for sexual gratification.
Regardless of the level of the charge, all sex crimes expose defendants to potential incarceration and fines. It is important to retain the services of a Berkeley criminal defense attorney who has successfully handled sex crime cases to mitigate exposure or potentially avoid a wrongful conviction.
When Does Someone Have to Register as a Sex Offender?
Many sex crime convictions require individuals to register with the State as a sex offender under “Megan’s Law”, found at Cal. Penal Code § 290. This list compiles the addresses, criminal convictions, and photos of all registrants and is readily available to the public, including prospective employers. Being on this list may significantly impair a person’s prospects for employment, education, housing, and other opportunities to move forward with their life.
Sex crimes attorneys understand the ramifications of convictions and inclusion on this registry. By selecting a knowledgeable, dedicated local attorney familiar with sex-related offenses, defendants may avoid becoming another name on the registry. Most importantly, a skilled sex crimes lawyer will keep other consequences in mind while fighting your case including, but not limited to, the impact on immigration, professional licenses, and any pending family court proceedings.
Seek Representation from a Berkeley Sex Crimes Lawyer
Your whole world may be turned upside down if you are the subject of a sex crime investigation, or worse yet, convicted and required to register as a sex offender for no less than ten years. To put yourself on the best path to a favorable resolution, contact our talented Berkeley sex crimes lawyers now. They not only understand the investigation tactics used and the common evidence that is sought out by the District Attorney and law enforcement but they also know how to handle these sensitive matters with professionalism and confidentiality. They know that discretion in these cases is as important as the need to fight the charges vigorously, and will do everything they can to support you during this trying time.