Sex Crime Cases Involving Children
No type of case involves higher emotions than accusations involving sexual contact with children. Anyone accused of a sex crime against a child faces the full force of the criminal justice system. There is very little sympathy for those accused of these types of crimes and close to none for someone who is convicted after trial of these crimes.
Most criminal defense lawyers, if they are being honest, will admit the child sexual cases are both the most difficult cases they handle and (with the exception of death penalty cases) the most dangerous for their clients. There are three reasons for this.
First, our society is very protective of children.
Second, there is a general (but sometimes mistaken) belief that children lack sexual knowledge or are sexualized.
Third, the public views children as innocent and there is a misconception with the public that children “don’t lie” about accusations that an adult engaged in sexual contact with them.
Huntsville Sex Crime Lawyers
The attorneys of Law Offices Of Segal & Segal have years of experience in child sex cases in Alabama courtrooms as well as the defenses and strategies used in defending individuals accused of these types of crimes. Because each case is unique, examples of defenses offered here are simply meant as a reference and should not be relied upon as legal advice.
Absolutely nothing in below is meant as legal advice; and it cannot be. An enormous variety of factors goes into the preparation and defense of this type of case.
If you or anyone you love is accused of a sexual crime against a child in Alabama, you should immediately consult with competent legal counsel.
The attorneys of Law Offices Of Segal & Segal represent individuals in sex crimes throughout Alabama, including Madison County, Morgan County, Marshall County, Limestone County and Jackson County, as well as the cities of Decatur, Madison, Meridianville, Moores Mill, Hazel Green, New Hope and surrounding communities.
Contact Law Offices Of Segal & Segal at (256) 533-4529 or submit an online form for a confidential consultation.
Alabama Child Sex Crimes Information Center
- Common encountered criminal sex offenses involving children in the state of Alabama as well as the potential punishments for each.
- General principles regarding the defense of child sexual cases in Alabama.
Common Criminal Sex Offenses in the State of Alabama
The following is a list of some of the more common child sex charges in Alabama as well as the range of consequences for someone convicted of these crimes. This list is not exhaustive.
Because our laws are constantly changing this list should not be relied upon for making any legal decisions. If you are accused of a crime, you should consult with competent legal counsel.
A person commits the crime of rape in the first degree if: He or she, being 16 years or older, engages in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex who is less than 12 years old.
Rape in the first degree is a Class A felony. The minimum punishment for this crime is 20 years the state penitentiary with a maximum of life. If the accused was 21 years of age or older and the victim was six years of age or less at the time of the offense the defendant shall be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole
2. Rape in the Second Degree
A person commits the crime of rape in the second degree if being 16 years old or older, he or she engages in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex less than 16 and more than 12 years old; provided, however, the actor is at least two years older than the member of the opposite sex.
Rape in the second degree is a Class B felony.
A person commits the crime of sodomy in the first degree if he or she), being 16 years old or older, engages in deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is less than 12 years old.(
Sodomy in the first degree is a Class A felony. The minimum punishment for this crime is 20 years the state penitentiary with a maximum of life. If the accused was 21 years of age or older and the victim was six years of age or less at the time of the offense the defendant shall be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole
4. Sodomy in the Second Degree
A person commits the crime of sodomy in the second degree if 🙁 1) He, being 16 years old or older, engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another person less than 16 and more than 12 years old. (2) He engages in deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is incapable of consent by reason of being mentally defective. (b) Sodomy in the second degree is a Class B felony.
5. Sexual Torture
A person commits the crime of sexual torture by penetrating the vagina or anus or mouth of a person who is less than 12 years old with an inanimate object, by a person who is 16 years old or older with the intent to sexually torture or to sexually abuse. (b) The crime of sexual torture is a Class A felony. The minimum punishment for this crime is 20 years the state penitentiary with a maximum of life. If the accused was 21 years of age or older and the victim was six years of age or less at the time of the offense the defendant shall be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole
(a) A person commits the crime of sexual abuse of a child less than 12 years old if he or she, being 16 years old or older, subjects another person who is less than 12 years old to sexual contact.
(b) Sexual abuse of a child less than 12 years old is a Class B felony. The minimum sentence for this crime is 10 years in prison on the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
7. Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree
A person commits the crime of sexual abuse in the second degree if He, being 19 years old or older, subjects another person to sexual contact who is less than 16 years old, but more than 12 years old.
Sexual abuse in second degree is a Class A misdemeanor, except that if a person commits a second or subsequent offense of sexual abuse in the second degree within one year of another sexual offense, the offense is a Class C felony. Note: Prosecutors may assert that if there were two instances of sexual abuse and the second degree within a calendar year that the charge is a class C felony.
8. Enticing a Child to Enter a Vehicle, House Etc. for Immoral Purposes
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person with lascivious intent to entice, allure, persuade, or invite, or attempt to entice, allure, persuade, or invite, any child under 16 years of age to enter any vehicle, room, house, office, or other place for the purpose of proposing to such child the performance of an act of sexual intercourse or an act which constitutes the offense of sodomy or for the purpose of proposing the fondling or feeling of the sexual or genital parts of such child or the breast of such child, or for the purpose of committing an aggravated assault on such child, or for the purpose of proposing that such child fondle or feel the sexual or genital parts of such person.
(b) A violation of this section is a Class C felony.
9. Possession and Possession with Intent to Distribute Obscene Matter Containing Visual Depiction of Persons under 17 Years of Age Involved in Obscene Acts
(a) Any person who knowingly possesses with intent to disseminate any obscene matter that contains a visual depiction of a person under the age of 17 years engaged in any act of sado-masochistic abuse, sexual intercourse, sexual excitement, masturbation, breast nudity, genital nudity, or other sexual conduct shall be guilty of a Class B felony. Possession of three or more copies of the same visual depiction contained in obscene matter is prima facie evidence of possession with intent to disseminate the same.
(b) Any person who knowingly possesses any obscene matter that contains a visual depiction of a person under the age of 17 years engaged in any act of sado-masochistic abuse, sexual intercourse, sexual excitement, masturbation, genital nudity, or other sexual conduct shall be guilty of a Class C felony
10. Parents or Guardians Permitting Children to Engage in Production of Obscene
Any parent or guardian who knowingly permits or allows their child, ward, or dependent under the age of 17 years to engage in the production of any obscene matter containing a visual depiction of such child, ward, or dependent under the age of 17 years engaged in any act of sado-masochistic abuse, sexual excitement, masturbation, breast nudity, genital nudity, or other sexual conduct shall be guilty of a Class A felony.
11. Production of Obscene Matter Containing Visual Depiction of Person under 17 Years of Age Involved in Obscene Acts
(a) Any person who knowingly films, prints, records, photographs or otherwise produces any obscene matter that contains a visual depiction of a person under the age of 17 years engaged in any act of sado-masochistic abuse, sexual intercourse, sexual excitement, masturbation, breast nudity, genital nudity, or other sexual conduct shall be guilty of a Class A felony.
(b) For any person who violates this section, each depiction of each individual less than 17 years of age constitutes a separate offense.
Please note that there may be a variety of other enhancements that can apply to these cases. Any specific charges should of course be discussed with your attorney.
Defense Strategies, Techniques, and Principles
When do I consult with a lawyer?
As soon as one suspects that they might be accused of a child sexual offense, they should immediately talk to a lawyer.
There are a number of reasons for this: first, a lawyer will want to do everything that he can to protect his client and to gather and review all relevant evidence. The sooner this process begins the better. In addition, a lawyer will want to make sure that his client’s constitutional rights are protected and that the client does not unwittingly do things that may damage his case.
In appropriate cases, a lawyer may be able to prevent an arrest. If it is possible to prevent an arrest, this should be done immediately. Under Alabama law, an arrest for sexual crime can result in a permanent stain on an individual’s record. This is because, even if they are subsequently exonerated of the charges, the arrest remains on their record. While Alabama permits the expungement or “wiping clean” of an arrest record for certain charges, expungement is not permitted regarding most, if not all sex crimes. So, if a completely innocent person is arrested for child sexual abuse and the charges are subsequently dismissed (or the individual is found not guilty), the arrest record still remains as does any damage that flows from this.
In short, the loss of opportunities that flow from an arrest for sex crimes will not go completely away even if the person is cleared of the charges. Thus if possible to avoid an arrest, this should be done.
A lawyer investigating a child sex case will look at the specific facts to determine if there may be information to share with law enforcement to try to prevent an arrest. This type of information can be anything from evidence that the child and accusations are being used to gain leverage either in a divorce proceeding or for other purposes or that there are legitimate reasons to believe that the child may be mistaken or even lying as to the accusation. A competent police investigator will want to thoroughly “vet” their case to avoid an accusation against an innocent person or to ensure that they had the strongest possible case against those whom they believed to be guilty.
The lawyer must decide how much (if any) information to share. This is often a difficult decision. The lawyer will review a variety of factors to decide if it is beneficial to the client to share any information with law enforcement.
Should a person who may be accused of a sexual crime against a child speak with law enforcement?
This decision may be pivotal in the ultimate resolution of the case. In my opinion, no one should ever make a decision to speak with law enforcement without first discussing the matter in depth with competent legal counsel. On the one hand, if a person is wrongly accused, there may be information that your lawyer wants to be provide to law enforcement to try to avoid your arrest. On the other hand, there are many clients who unwittingly provide information that may be used against them in the future trial and your lawyer will want to prevent you from hurting or incriminating yourself.
My grandmother was fond of saying there are four things that cannot be taken back:
“The spoken word, the spent arrow, the past, and a neglected opportunity”
Alabama has many inmates who wish they followed this proverb.
Many accused people think they can talk their way out of the accusation. More often the than not they only succeed in tightening the noose around their own neck. A damaging statement has no greater chance of returning to your mouth than an arrow after it has left the bow. A wrong statement (or a misstatement) can be extremely damaging. A lawyer cannot undo the past but, the lawyer can advise how best to move forward
In many sex cases, individuals make statements that are directly or indirectly damning
Here are typical statements said to investigators by people accused of these types of crimes:
“I did kiss child’s vagina but it was only to help “cure” a boo-boo”
“I touched the child’s privates to examine an injury”
“The child has seen me undressed; we shower together and are relaxed about nudity in our house.”
“I photographed the child. It was done innocently. I wasn’t going to show the pictures to anyone.”
“The child ‘came on’ to me.”
“I did it.”
Even when someone is denies an accusation, they may still provide damning information to law enforcement. Their statement may provide information demonstrating that they are lying or which leads to damning evidence.
I had a client who told the police a tall tale about what happened. On its face, the client’s story sounded plausible, but the medical evidence established he was lying. While we were able to assist him, he may not have been charged if he had not made any statement to the police.
A person accused of a sexual crime should immediately speak with an attorney. No matter how embarrassing, they should be truthful. Lawyers do not like surprises; a surprise at trial can be devastating. If you have done something that, you regret, (no matter how unpleasant the information may be), your lawyer cannot be fully effective if he does not know the facts.
Are there things that I can do after I have been arrested to help my case?
Yes, there are always things a person can do to help the chances.
If you are innocent, gathering of all relevant information is critical. Not only should information concerning the incident itself be collected but other information concerning potential motives or mistakes should be gathered. When possible, any and all potential witnesses should be interviewed.
If you have done something you regret, it may be helpful to seek appropriate counseling. In some cases, this may help your lawyer to negotiate a better resolution than would otherwise be possible. While attending counseling is not a guarantee, it often helps lower potential consequences. In some less serious cases, the prosecution may even agree to dismissal of charges if the accused attends appropriate counseling.
Should I have a trial?
There is no general answer to this question. Every case is different. Because of the severe consequences for those convicted in child sex cases, these cases go to trial more frequently than other kinds of cases. However, not everyone accused of child sex case has a trial or should. Whether or not the case will be resolved by trial depends on a variety of factors such as what type of offer has been made and the assessment you and your lawyer make as to the strength or weaknesses of the prosecution’s case. You and your lawyer will need to weight the potential risks and benefits involved in a trial.
What kinds of defenses are available at trial?
The most typical defense in a child sex cases is some version of “I didn’t do it.”
The manner in which this is presented depends upon the nature of the case. For example in the case of a young child, your lawyer may question whether not the child had the appropriate ability to recall or recollect the events. A lawyer may question whether legitimate actions, such as bathing a child.
Young children are impressionable; their testimony can either intentionally or unintentionally be influenced or tainted through improper questioning or interviewing techniques. Your lawyer may question whether the child’s accusations are from false memories or mistaken memories.
In some instances, there is no question the child suffered some form a sexual crime; the issue is who committed the crime. Here the defense might argue the child misidentified the party who responsible for the crime.
Your lawyer may argue that the child is lying, and in my view, before this argument is presented, there should be sufficient motive or explanation as to why a child would lie. Unless there is a reasonable probability a jury will accept such an argument, it can backfire on the accused.
Madison County Child Sex Crime Lawyers
You and your lawyer will discuss your case to determine the best way of moving forward.
Our hope is that this information will provide you with some general guidance as to the nature of these cases. No representation is made that the quality of legal services provided by Segal & Segal is greater than that of any other lawyers. This informational content is for general education purposes only and is in no way to be used as legal advice. If you are accused of a crime, you should immediately seek legal counsel. If you cannot afford legal counsel, you should seek the appointment of counsel.
If you do not have an attorney and you would like our help, please feel free to call our number at (256) 533-4529.The Huntsville based Law Offices Of Segal & Segal defends clients throughout Alabama in all sex crime cases, including sexual abuse, sodomy, child sex abuse, indecent exposure, and more.