If you are charged with an attempted sexual assault crime in Virginia, you need an experienced attorney to help guide you through the legal process. Being convicted of an attempted sexual assault crime can have enormous consequences on your future. A conviction for a sex offense can mean life-long sex offender status and a permanent criminal record. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can fight the unfair charges against you and clear your name.
Sexual Attempt Crimes in Virginia
Sexual attempt crimes in Virginia include any attempted rape, forcible sexual penetration, or sexual battery. With attempt crimes, the completion of the act does not have to happen. If someone never completed the act, he or she could still face criminal charges. Even if the accused changed his or her mind before completing the act, he or she could still be guilty of attempted sexual battery.
Attempted sex crimes in Virginia include:
- Attempted Rape
- Attempted Aggravated Sexual Battery
- Attempted Forcible Sodomy
- Attempted Object Sexual Penetration
- Attempted Sexual Battery
The difference between an attempted sexual battery and an attempted aggravated sexual battery is attempted aggravated sexual battery can be found when:
- The victim is under 13 years old; or
- The sexual touching or abuse is accomplished through exploiting the victim's mental incapacity or physical helplessness; or
- The accused is a parent, grandparent, step-parent of the victim who is between 13 and 17 years old; or
- The abuse was accomplished against the will of the victim through the use of force.
What is an Attempted Crime?
The elements involved in any sexual attempt crime have been described by Virginia courts as:
- Intent to commit the criminal act; and
- A direct, but ineffectual act done towards its commission which must reach far enough toward the accomplishment of the desired result to amount to the commencement of the consummation.
Intent to Commit a Crime
Intent is a purpose formed in a person's mind. A finding of intent is made from the facts and circumstances of the situation and the actions of a person, statements, and any other relevant evidence. A jury will hear the evidence, as well as any statements from witnesses or parties involved, and determine whether the accused intended to commit a sex offense.
The Direct and Ineffectual Act
There is no clear rule for determining what constitutes a direct, ineffectual act necessary for a sexual attempt crime in Virginia. What is important to note here is that there must be some action taken directly necessary for the completion of the act.
It is not necessary that the act be the very last action necessary to begin the crime in question. In an attempted rape situation, it is not required that the perpetrator reach the point where he or she is about to sexually penetrate his victim, rather, what is necessary is the act or acts are direct to the point of being necessary to commit the crime.
For example, chasing someone is not likely to be enough to be considered an attempted sexual assault. However, chasing someone, holding the person down, and beginning to remove clothing may reach the point of a direct and ineffectual act to be considered an attempted sexual battery.
Penalties for Attempted Sex Offenses in Virginia
The penalties for s sexual attempt crime in Virginia are as follows:
Attempted rape, forcible sodomy, and object sexual penetration are Class 4 felonies. The penalty for a Class 4 felony conviction includes a term of imprisonment of not less than 2 years and no more than 10 years and a fine of not more than $100,000.
Attempted aggravated sexual battery is a Class 6 felony punishable by imprisonment of not less than 1 year and no more than 5 years and a fine of no more than $2,500. In the discretion of the jury or the Judge in a non-jury trial, the court has the discretion to sentence an individual for confinement in jail of no more than 12 months.
Attempted sexual battery is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by confinement in jail for no more than 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.
Mandatory Sex Offender Registrations in Virginia
Attempted rape, attempted forcible sodomy, attempted object sexual penetration, or attempted aggravated sexual battery are considered sexually violent offenses under Virginia law. Even a first-time conviction for these offenses carries mandatory registration as a sex offender.
A second or subsequent conviction for attempted sexual battery also requires registration as a sex offender in Virginia. However, where the victim is a minor (or physically helpless or mentally incapacitated), an attempted sexual battery will be considered a sexually violent offense and require sex offender registration.
Mandatory sex offender registration is a life-long requirement. As a sex offender, the individual will have to register with law enforcement and provide regular updates if he or she moves, gets a new job, or attends school. Sex offenders are also restricted in where they can live and what jobs they can hold. Many individuals on the sex offender database are searchable by the public, including friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
Defenses to Sex Offense Charges
Defending a person charged with an attempted sex crime carries different strategies than non-attempt crimes. One big difference is that the sexual contact or penetration is not being alleged to have happened. In such a case intent becomes a key focus as do the facts surrounding the events giving rise to the alleged attempt.
Experience with knowing what facts go the heart of intent can be the difference between having charges reduced or dropped vs. a conviction. Talk to your attorney about the best possible defenses to criminal charges in your case.
Contact the Law Offices of Bryan J. Jones
If you are facing charges of an attempted sex crime in Virginia, it is important that you have a lawyer who is familiar with the potential consequences. Attorney Bryan J. Jones, LLC can make sure your rights are protected and that you understand the consequences of decisions made throughout the legal process.