Philadelphia Criminal Lawyers for Statutory Rape Charges (Statutory Sexual Assault)
Pennsylvania Statutory Rape Laws
The Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers of Goldstein Mehta LLC will defend you or your loved one against any allegations relating to a sexual offense. If you are facing potential sex crime charges, it is extremely important that you consult with one of our experienced defense attorneys immediately. We have handled many of these cases, and we know the defenses. We also offer a free 15-minute criminal defense strategy session to anyone who is facing charges or who may be under investigation by the authorities.
What is Statutory Sexual Assault?
Statutory Rape, which is called Statutory Sexual Assault in Pennsylvania, is the crime of having sexual intercourse with someone who is below a certain age. In Pennsylvania, statutory sexual assault may be a felony of the first or second degree. Statutory sexual assault is a felony of the first degree when the defendant is alleged to have had sexual intercourse with a complainant who is under the age of 16 and the defendant is 11 years older than the complainant. Statutory sexual assault is a felony of the second degree when the complainant is under the age of 16 and the defendant is 4 or more years older than the complainant. This means that 16 is the age of consent in Pennsylvania. If the complainant and defendant are married, then that would be a defense to statutory sexual assault.
Megan's Law Registration for Statutory Rape
All types of statutory sexual assault require mandatory Megan's Law registration upon conviction. If the defendant was 4 years older than the complainant but less than 8 years older, then statutory sexual assault is a Tier I offense which requires 15 years of Megan's Law registration and yearly reporting. If the defendant was 8 years older than the complainant but less than 11 years older, then the crime is still a felony of the second degree, but it becomes a Tier II offense which requires 25 years of Megan's Law reporting, and the defendant must report twice a year. Finally, if the defendant is 11 or more years older than the complainant, then statutory sexual assault becomes a felony of the first degree which requires lifetime registration on Megan's Law as a Tier III offense. Tier III offenders must report four times per year. In addition to increased reporting requirements, higher tiers are also more restrictive as Tiers II and III make it child abuse for a parent to knowingly allow the defendant to be around children unsupervised whereas a Tier I offender is not subject to this restriction.
Defenses to Statutory Sexual Assault Charges
It is extremely important to remember that mistake of age, or not knowing the complainant was under the age of 16, is not a defense to statutory rape charges. However, there are many other potential defenses which could apply depending on the specifics of your case. Our experienced sex crimes defense lawyers will thoroughly investigate the allegations against you and present you with all of your options.
The most important thing to remember is that many of these allegations do not escalate into actual criminal charges if the defendant does not make an incriminating statement to the police. If a detective asks you to give a statement or answer some questions about a potential allegation of sexual assault, you need to consult with one of our criminal defense lawyers immediately. Only after we review the allegations against you, speak with you, and speak with the detective, can we properly advise you and help you make an educated decision on whether it makes sense to give a statement. In many cases, it does not, and without an incriminating statements, the police may not have enough evidence to bring criminal charges in the first place.
The defenses in sex offense cases vary depending on whether the complainant and defendant know each other. In both situations, the defense may center around the credibility of the complainant. Contrary to popular belief, many sex crimes do not involve strangers but instead involve family members or people who otherwise know each other. Therefore, the prosecution may try to call an expert witness to testify that it is common for allegations to be reported after a significant delay both in cases which are fabricated and cases where sex assault truly happened. In cases involving people who know each other, identification is simply not going to be an issue as it could be in cases involving strangers. Instead, the potential defenses are likely going to focus on the credibility of the complainant and whether the complainant has some reason to fabricate the accusation. A prompt and thorough investigation of the allegations is absolutely critical in defending these charges because valuable evidence could be lost due to delay, and it is important to begin building a defense right away.
In today's society, people often assume that criminal allegations are true simply because the defendant has been arrested. Of course, you are entitled to a presumption of innocence which can be overcome only when the prosecution can prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Our criminal defense attorneys pride themselves on protecting your constitutional rights and making sure the judge or jury understands that you are innocent until proven guilty and just because someone said something happened does not make it true.
There are a number of reasons why people accuse each other of crimes which did not happen. These reasons include anger, spite, jealousy, financial motivations, revenge and simple miscommunications. In many cases, the police and District Attorney bring charges based solely on the alleged victim's word, so we will investigate to determine whether there are reasons why the complainant may be making it up or exaggerating. It is always important to conduct a complete investigation into the allegations and investigate for possible alibi evidence or other evidence that show the contact could not have occurred. Sex assault cases also may involve expert witness challenges to forensic evidence such as DNA.
In cases involving strangers, the defenses will often involve challenges to identification testimony and potential challenges to forensic evidence through the use of cross examination and expert witnesses. Our attorneys will consider whether there may be defenses such as whether the police got the right guy or whether there was consent.
When you retain our Philadelphia sex crimes attorneys, we will immediately begin investigating the charges against you. We have extremely talented investigators who are ready to seek out exculpatory evidence like witnesses and surveillance footage which may show that the incident did not happen or that there are problems with the complainant's credibility. Likewise, 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.
Our Philadelphia sex offense lawyers will thoroughly investigate the allegations against you, determine whether there may be any exculpatory evidence, and help you choose the best options and defenses to these charges. In some cases, it will be best to go to trial and seek an acquittal. In others, we may be able to negotiate pleas to other non-sex offense or less serious charges which will not trigger mandatory sex offender registration under Megan's Law. We may also determine that the evidence is strong and it is best to focus on obtaining a reduced jail sentence. The reality is that every case is different, and we can help you find the best options for your individual situation.
Finally, it is important to remember that is never a good idea for an adult to have sexual relations with a minor. Even if the conduct does not fall within the definition of statutory sexual assault, there are other charges such as corruption of a minor which could be brought by a creative prosecutor. Therefore, just because the adult is within the age requirement of the minor does not mean that there will not be criminal charges brought or serious consequences if the relationship becomes public.
WE CAN HELP WITH ALLEGATIONS OF SEX OFFENSES IN PENNSYLVANIA AND NEW JESEY
Short of murder, there are probably no charges with greater potential consequences and more of a social stigma than sex offenses. Even many misdemeanor sex offense convictions carry with them the reality of mandatory Megan's Law registration for periods of 15 years or more. Our experienced criminal lawyers have the knowledge and skills necessary to defend both state and federal sex charges. We offer a free 15-minute criminal defense strategy session to anyone who is facing allegations that they committed a sex crime or any other offense. We are understanding, dedicated defense attorneys who will do everything we can to help you obtain the best possible result when dealing with statutory sexual assault charges. If you are facing sex charges, call 267-225-2545 to speak with one of our defense lawyers today.
The Statutory Sexual Assault Statute
§ 3122.1. Statutory sexual assault.
(a) Felony of the second degree.--Except as provided in section 3121 (relating to rape), a person commits a felony of the second degree when that person engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant to whom the person is not married who is under the age of 16 years and that person is either:
(1) four years older but less than eight years older than the complainant; or
(2) eight years older but less than 11 years older than the complainant.
(b) Felony of the first degree.--A person commits a felony of the first degree when that person engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant under the age of 16 years and that person is 11 or more years older than the complainant and the complainant and the person are not married to each other.