Sex Crimes Defense Attorney in Raleigh
If you have been accused of rape or another type of sexual offense, you know how serious these charges are. A criminal conviction is punishable by long prison terms and being added to a public registry that will follow you for much of your life, harming your ability to get a job or impacting where you can live. While the courts place the burden of proof on the prosecutors, in the court of public opinion, an investigation or arrest for a sexual crime can damage your reputation, and for college students, could lead to being expelled due to Title IX laws.
In order to fight back against these charges, reclaim your reputation, and get your life back on track, you need an experienced, aggressive sexual assault crimes attorney in Raleigh who will defend you every step of the way. At Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh, our team of criminal defense attorneys have over 50 years of combined legal experience. This is not only defending clients, we were also Wake County District Attorneys. We have a broad scope of experience to draw from as well as unique insight in how prosecutors build cases related to sexual offenses and rape. With this knowledge, we’re able to craft highly effective legal defense strategies and better prepare to take on an investigation and trial if it comes to that.
Defining Sexual Assault Crimes in North Carolina
The North Carolina General Statute outlines rape and other sex offenses in Article 7B; 14-27.20 – 14-27.36.
Rape and Sexual Offense
In North Carolina, someone is only charged with rape when they are accused of a type of vaginal intercourse without consent. Otherwise, if they are accused of oral or anal sex, or using an object to penetrate another person, they are charged with a sexual offense. The parameters and punishment for both crimes are equal when charged or convicted of the same criminal degree. For example, first-degree rape and first-degree sexual offense are both classified as Class B1 Felonies and require the same burden of proof in order to gain a conviction.
First Degree Forcible Rape & First Degree Forcible Sexual Offense
This is defined as vaginal intercourse or a sexual act in which the accused threatens the alleged victim or displays a weapon, causes serious injury, or commits the act with other people aiding or abetting. Both first-degree forcible rape and first-degree forcible sexual offense are Class B1 felonies punishable by 144 months in prison to life without parole.
Second Degree Forcible Rape & Second Degree Forcible Sexual Offense
Charges of second-degree forcible rape or second-degree forcible sexual offense are brought when vaginal intercourse or a penetrative sexual act takes place with a victim who can’t give consent, such as someone who is developmentally disabled, unconscious, physically helpless, drugged, or inebriated. This crime is a Class C felony, and if convicted, it’s punishable with 44 months to 182 months in prison.
Sexual battery is a Class A1 misdemeanor in which a person is accused of engaging in sexual contact with another person either by force or with a person who is unable to consent to the act. This includes people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, have a cognitive disability or are physically disabled.
Non-Violent Sex Crimes
In addition to rape and sexual battery are non-violent crimes. While these may not be seen as serious as violent crimes, a conviction can still lead to time in jail, having to register as a sex offender and a loss of reputation.
- Indecent exposure
- Selling, publishing, or exhibiting depictions of obscene acts or literature deemed obscene.
- Secretly peeping into a room occupied by another person;
- Taking pictures or video of someone without their knowledge or permission for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire;
Sex Crimes Against Minors in North Carolina
Statutory Sexual Offense and Statutory Rape in North Carolina
In North Carolina, the age of consent is 16, meaning that in the eyes of the law, someone 15 or under can’t make a fully informed decision to engage in sexual activity, even if they consent to the act. The severity of the charges and punishment is dependent on the age of the victim, the accused, and the age difference between the two.
Statutory Rape of a Child by an Adult & Statutory Sexual Offense with a Child by an Adult
If someone who is 18 or older is accused of committing child abuse such as a sexual act or having vaginal intercourse with a child who is 12 years old or under, they will be charged with the statutory rape of a child by an adult. This is a Class B1 felony.
First Degree Statutory Rape and Sexual Offense
If the alleged victim is under 13 and the accused is over 12 but four years older than the victim, the accused will be charged with first-degree statutory rape or statutory sexual offense, depending upon the act committed, which is also a Class B1 felony.
Statutory Rape and Sexual Offense with a Person Who Is 15 Years of Age or Younger
Statutory rape or statutory sexual offense with a person who is 15 years of age or younger is a Class C felony. This is the charge brought when the defendant is older than 12 and at least six years older than the victim who is 15 or younger, and is accused of having vaginal intercourse or engaging in a sexual act with them.
Other Sex Crimes Against a Minor
- Sexual activity by a substitute parent or custodian – The accused is in an assumed parental role or has custody of the minor child, or the child is in a private, charitable, or government institution and a caregiver engages in sexual activity with that child.
- Sexual activity with a student
- Sexual contact or penetration under pretext of medical treatment
- Solicitation of a child by computer or electronic device – The defendant is accused of soliciting a child via electronic device to commit an unlawful sexual act.
- Sexual exploitation of a minor – This relates to creating, distributing, receiving, or owning child pornography or induces a minor to engage in sexual activity for a live performance. .
Federal Sex Crimes
In addition to state crimes, sex crimes can also be prosecuted in federal court. Typically, these cases involve sex crimes that cross state lines, such as transporting a minor or distributing pornographic materials depicting a child across state lines. Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh are federal defense attorneys representing clients in the Eastern District of North Carolina against the following federal sex crimes charges:
- Sexual assault or rape of a minor
- Sexual exploitation of a minor
- Possession or distribution of child pornography
- Aggravated sexual abuse
- Possession or distribution of child pornography
- Sex crimes that occurred on federal land
Why You Need a Sex Crimes Attorney in Raleigh
Charges of rape, sexual offense, and sexual battery are extremely serious and the cases are often very complicated and emotionally charged. Having an experienced, highly skilled sex crimes attorney in Raleigh is necessary to not only having a better chance of acquittal, but also to defeat the “court of public opinion.” You need an aggressive attorney fighting for your freedom, your reputation, and your ability to move forward with your life.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorneys in Raleigh Today
If you were accused of rape or another sex crime, don’t try to go through this alone. You need legal counsel from experienced attorneys who are knowledgeable about both sides of the courtroom. We have the unique insight and perspective as well as the passion to serve our clients and do what it takes to do well in court. Schedule a free consultation today by calling (919) 887-8040 or filling out our easy-to-use contact form.