Experienced and Understanding Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyers for Indecent Assault Charges in PA and NJ
Fight Back Against Indecent Assault Charges
If you are facing criminal charges or are under investigation for indecent assault, we can help. Our award-winning Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers have successfully defended thousands of clients in criminal cases in jurisdictions throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We regularly defend clients who are facing sex crimes charges in state and federal court, and our experienced and understanding Philadelphia criminal lawyers and sex crime attorneys are able to provide a strong defense to indecent assault charges. Our lawyers regularly defend clients who are facing all types of sex offenses with great success. We recognize the defenses to these serious, stigmatizing charges and are able to provide a defense which may be able to help you avoid a conviction and registration on Megan's Law. Call 267-225-2545 to speak with a defense attorney today.
What is Indecent Assault in PA?
There are a number of different types of indecent assault under Pennsylvania law In general, indecent assault occurs when the defendant has "indecent contact" with the complainant, causes the complainant to have "indecent contact" with the defendant, or causes the complainant to come into contact with semen, urine, or feces for the purposes of arousing sexual desire in the defendant or the complainant. Indecent contact is defined as "any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of the person for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire, in any person." The District Attorney will commonly bring these charges when there is an allegation that the defendant touched the complainant inappropriately. The severity of the charge varies depending on the specifics of the defendant's alleged conduct and the age of the victim.
Gradation of Indecent Assault Charges
Depending on the circumstances, the prosecution could bring charges as a misdemeanor or a felony. A conviction for inappropriately touching another adult will typically be graded as a misdemeanor of the second degree, while a conviction for touching someone inappropriately could become a felony if the complainant is under 13 or if it is a second or subsequent offense. Generally, most charges for Indecent Assault will be brought as either a second-degree misdemeanor or a first-degree misdemeanor. This means that in Philadelphia, a misdemeanor case will initially be heard in a Municipal Court trial by a Court of Common Pleas Judge in Courtroom 5F of the Family Court. All preliminary hearings and misdemeanor trials involving minor complainants are heard in this courtroom instead of the Criminal Justice Center.
Defenses to Indecent Assault Charges
Indecent Assault is an extremely seriosu scharge because the consequences could include both jail time and Megan's Law Registration for 15 years or more. If you are facing this extremely serious charge, you need to begin planning your defense immediately. Our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers have experience defending against indecent assault charges and other sex offenses. Depending on the allegations, there are a number of potential defenses to these charges. It is important to remember that in every case, no matter what the charges, the prosecution must be able to prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
Common defenses against the charges both at trial or in a preliminary hearing could include:
- The Credibility of the Complainant
Typically, trials in sex crimes cases will come down to either the credibility of the complainant, consent, or whether the offensive touching was some sort of mistake. In some cases, it may be that the complainant has made a mistaken identification and picked out the wrong person as the person who groped him or her.
Our defense attorneys stand ready to immediately investigate your case. We have private investigators on call who can look for helpful witnesses or surveillance footage which may show that the incident did not happen as described. We are also comfortable challenging the evidence and witnesses in court. We will cross-examine the complainant in pre-trial hearings and at trial to show whether there are any inconsistencies in the statements made to police and testimony in court.
Consent is also a defense to indecent assault in cases in which the complainant is an adult. In some sex cases, it is possible to show that the allegations arose because the complainant had some motive to fabricate them and is seeking to punish the defendant.
Finally, it may be possible to show that there was a misunderstanding or mistake. For example, if you accidentally bumped into someone at a crowded bar and the complainant thought it was intentional, it may be able to defend against these serious charges on that basis. In this type of case, it would be critical to subpoena video footage immediately as many establishments do not preserve video for more than a few days.
When you retain one of our criminal defense lawyers for an indecent assault case, our criminal lawyers will thoroughly analyze the allegations against you, investigate whether there may be any exculpatory evidence, and help you determine the best options and defenses to these charges. In some cases, it may be best to go to trial and seek an acquittal. In others, we have been able to negotiate pleas to other non-sex offense charges which will not trigger mandatory sex offender registration under Megan's Law. For example, it is often possible to negotiate a plea agreement to Simple Assault charges, which do not carry Megan's Law registration, in many indecent assault cases.
Sentencing for Indecent Assault
Even though Indecent Assault is a misdemeanor, it is still an extremely serious offense due to the fact that it is a sex offense and triggers mandatory Megan's Law registration following sentencing. This means that even if the sentencing judge does not find the case to be very serious or think that the defendant is likely to re-offend, the judge is required to impose Megan's Law Registration as part of the sentence. Because of the consequences of sex offender registration, even misdemeanor indecent assault charges must be taken seriously.
Although the actual sentence imposed by the Court could be a sentence of probation or relatively short period of jail time, recent amendments to Pennsylvania's sex offender registration laws (SORNA) now require defendants who are convicted to register under Megan's Law. Depending on the specific charge, registration could range from 15-years to 25 years or lifetime registration. Therefore, while the actual sentence imposed could be probation or jail time, the subsequent registration as a sex offender could be even more serious than the actual sentence imposed by the Court. Megan's Law Registration results in the publication of the defendant's photo on the State Police website and requires the defendant to regularly check in with the State Police at least once a year. The defendant will also be required to notify the State Police when the defendant changes jobs, moves, or changes his or her appearance in any way.
The most common type of indecent assault, which is simply touching someone inappropriately, typically leads to a 15-year Megan's Law registration requirement depending on the age of the complainant.
A detective called me with some questions. Should I talk to the police?
You should not speak with the police without counsel present if you are being investigated for a crime. This is particularly true in cases involving sex crimes given the tremendously serious potential consequences of a conviction. As you may have seen on TV, police will often tell a suspect that they have the right to be silent and everything they say and can will be used against them in a court of law. These are called Miranda warnings, and Miranda warnings contain really good advice from the police because they are true - anything you say to a detective, police officer, or other potential witness is admissible in court against you if you become the defendant in a criminal case.
Even if you are innocent, there is always the possibility that you could make a mistake in describing a small detail and that a portion of your statement could later be proven false. If even the smallest part of your statement can be proven false by a prosecutor, the prosecutor will use that against you in deciding whether to bring charges and at trial. It makes it very hard for a criminal defendant to testify in his or her own defense when testifying will allow the prosecution to cross-examine the defendant on prior statements which were false. Our criminal defense attorneys have the experience and skill to properly advise you on whether it makes sense to sit down with law enforcement and give your version of what happened. In some cases, it is possible to do so off the record, but only with a lawyer present and if the agreement to keep the statemetn off the record is made in writing. You should not do so without speaking with a defense attorney first.
Our Sex Offense Lawyers Can Help
If you are facing indecent assault or any other charges for a sex offense, our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers can help. Given the serious consequences of a conviction, it is important that you move quickly. We are ready to help, and every consultation is 100% confidential and judgment-free. We offer a free 15 minute criminal defense strategy session to any potential client who is under investigation or facing charges. Call 267-225-2545 to begin building your defense.
Speak With A Philadelphia, PA Indecent Assault Lawyer Today
The Definition of INdecent Assault in PA
18 Pa.C.S. § 3126. Indecent assault.
(a) Offense defined.--A person is guilty of indecent assault if the person has indecent contact with the complainant, causes the complainant to have indecent contact with the person or intentionally causes the complainant to come into contact with seminal fluid, urine or feces for the purpose of arousing sexual desire in the person or the complainant and:
(1) the person does so without the complainant's consent;
(2) the person does so by forcible compulsion;
(3) the person does so by threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution;
(4) the complainant is unconscious or the person knows that the complainant is unaware that the indecent contact is occurring;
(5) the person has substantially impaired the complainant's power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance;
(6) the complainant suffers from a mental disability which renders the complainant incapable of consent;
(7) the complainant is less than 13 years of age; or
(8) the complainant is less than 16 years of age and the person is four or more years older than the complainant and the complainant and the person are not married to each other.
(b) Grading.--Indecent assault shall be graded as follows:
(1) An offense under subsection (a)(1) or (8) is a misdemeanor of the second degree.
(2) An offense under subsection (a)(2), (3), (4), (5) or (6) is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
(3) An offense under subsection (a)(7) is a misdemeanor of the first degree unless any of the following apply, in which case it is a felony of the third degree:
(i) It is a second or subsequent offense.
(ii) There has been a course of conduct of indecent assault by the person.
(iii) The indecent assault was committed by touching the complainant's sexual or intimate parts with sexual or intimate parts of the person.
(iv) The indecent assault is committed by touching the person's sexual or intimate parts with the complainant's sexual or intimate parts.