Sex Abuse means unlawful sexual contact has occurred; But what's the definition of “Sexual Contact” in Alabama?
All of charges involving sex abuse require some form of unlawful “Sexual Contact.” “Sexual Contact” means that one person has touched another person's private parts or sexual organs for their own sexual gratification or for that of the other party. Typically, sexual abuse concerns an allegation that someone unlawfully touched the breast, buttocks, penis, vagina or testicles of another person.
Alabama law specifically defines sexual contact as: “any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person not married to the actor, done for purpose of gratifying the sexual desire either party” See, §13A-6-60 (3) Code of Alabama, 1975.
How many types of sexual abuse charges exist in Alabama?
Alabama has five basic sexual abuse charges.
Three are three types of sexual abuse.
There are also two other crimes which involve an element of sexual abuse: sexual abuse of a foster child and sexual abuse by a school employee with a student.
The Five Basic Types of Sexual Abuse in Alabama:
I. Sexual Abuse in the First degree
Sex Abuse, first degree occurs when someone subjects another person to sexual contact by physical compulsion, meaning the contact is accomplished by actual physical force or by threat of immediate death or serious injury to either the victim or some other person. This can include accusations a person forcibly grabbed another person's genitals or rubbed his or her genitals against another person. It generally does not include forced vaginal, anal or oral sex, as those are covered under the rape and sodomy statutes.
First sexual degree sex abuse also occurs when a person subjects another to sexual contact if the other person is not capable of consenting due to being “physical helpless” or “mentally incapacitated.”
“Physical helplessness” means a person is not physically able to give consent. For example, a person who is handcuffed or bound would be physically helpless.
Mental incapacity includes if a person has been given drugs or alcohol without his or her consent. This is most often seen when a person has been slipped a date rape drug or something of that nature.
II. Sexual abuse in the second degree
Sexual abuse in the second degree occurs when someone subjects another person to sexual contact and the person is not capable of consent by “some factor other than being less than 16 years old.” This can mean the person was not legally able to consent because of a mental disability, mental illness or some other reason. It also includes any alleged instances when an accused is older than 19 and they have sexual contact with someone between the ages of 12 and 16.
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. The Misdemeanor version of this crime carries up to a year in jail and up to $6000.00 in fines.
If it is a second or subsequent offense, it is a class C felony, the punishment is from a minimum of one year and one day in prison to ten years in the state penitentiary. The maximum fine is $15.000.00
III. Sexual Abuse of a Child Less than 12 Years Old
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.
Sexual abuse of a child less than 12 years old is a Class B felony. A first offender can be punished from ten to twenty years in prison and fines of up to $30,000.00.
Two Other Crimes Which Involve an Element of Sexual Abuse
IV. Sexual Contact with a Foster Child
A person commits the crime of engaging in a sexual contact with a foster child if he or she is a foster parent and engages in a sexual contact with a foster child under the age of 19 years who is under his or her care or supervision.
Engaging in sexual contact with a foster child is a Class C felony with punishment from a minimum of one year and one day in prison to ten years in the state penitentiary. The maximum fine is $15.000.00
V. Sexual Contact by a School employee with a student under the age of 19 years.
A person commits the crime of a school employee having sexual contact with a student under the age of 19 years if he or she is a school employee and engages in sexual contact, with a student, regardless of whether the student is male or female. Consent is not a defense to a charge under this section.
The crime of a school employee having sexual contact with a student is a Class C felony with punishment from a minimum of one year and one day in prison to ten years in the state penitentiary. The maximum fine is $15.000.00.
Defenses in Sexual Abuse Cases
Defenses in sexual abuse cases, as in all cases, vary with the specific facts of the case.
In some cases, the defense is the event never happened. These false claims may be based upon revenge, retribution or regret. There are a number of reasons people make false claims. Your defense attorneys job is to expose those for what they are.
Sometimes, the issue is whether there was consent. People may get intoxicated or high and agree to things they later forget (or regret) having agreed to.
Cases involving children must be treated differently and, in most cases, in a very delicate manner. While child sexual abuse cases share some of the same potential defenses as those of adults, children may honestly believe as true something that never happened and have great difficulty separating fact from fantasy.
When children have been told a story by adults, with time, they can believe that story to be true. This is particularly dangerous because a child maybe telling a fiction they believe to be the truth as the truth. Thus, in child sexual abuse cases, the lawyer must be able to investigate not only what was said but why it was said.
To avoid these problems, State child abuse investigators try to use “Forensic Interviewing “techniques.
Knowledge of forensic interviewing techniques-as they apply to children, is a critical skill for any defense lawyer wishing to defend a child sexual abuse case.
In some cases, whether it involves children or adults, the “defense” may not be an actual defense but rather a skillfully negotiated resolution that avoids conviction by the accused attending classes.
Of course, some “defenses” are not true defenses but negotiations to avoid or lessen the consequences for a person who has made a mistake and simply wishes to lessen the consequences.
Sex Offender Registration and Notification for Alabama Sex Abuse Offenders
Anyone convicted of Sex Abuse must register as a sex offender.
The Sex Offender Database is available to the public and includes the name, age, address, a recent picture, work, charge convicted of and the age and gender of the victim.
This information is available to potential employers, friends, family, potential relationship partners, neighbors and anyone else.
Even the driver's license (or non-driver's identification card) of a convicted sex offender must state in bold letters the person is a convicted sex offender.
The police will also notify neighbors. A person convicted will no longer be allowed to live within 2,000 feet of schools or child care centers, and cannot live with a minor unless under legally recognized exceptions.
Since Huntsville is home to the National Children's Advocacy Center will this affect my case?
It may. Sex crimes are never taken lightly in Huntsville. Huntsville is home to the National Children's Advocacy Center and Family violence unit; for this reason, the prosecution is typically well-funded and well prepared.
What do I do if I or someone I love has been accused of Sex Abuse?
Anyone accused of Sex Abuse needs the best defense possible. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you to build that defense.
What you should know about the Lawyers at Segal & Segal.
The Law Offices of Segal & Segal will help you fight charges of sexual abuse.
Lawyers Andrew Segal and Sandra Segal have significant experience;
Andrew Segal was a prosecutor with the Alabama Attorney General's office and the Madison County District Attorney's office.
He has served as a Municipal Court Judge.
He was past President of the Alabama Municipal Judges Association.
Sandra Segal has served as a prosecutor for the Huntsville City Attorney's Office.
Between them they have close to 60 years of courtroom experience
They practice with honor and integrity. This is important to earn the respect of judges and prosecutors. It is extra important when your charged with Sex abuse which carries a strong stigma.
If you face charges of sex abuse anywhere in North Alabama feel free to call. Anytime. 24/7.