Anytime you face a sex offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia you face potentially serious consequences. Convictions can result in high fines, long prison sentences, and registration as a sex offender.
If you have been charged with a sex offense, I can help you understand the nature of your charges and how to defend your case. You have constitutional rights, and with the help of an experienced Virginia criminal attorney, you can protect those rights.
Sexual battery is a serious charge and occurs when one person commits "sexual abuse" against another. "Sexual abuse" is defined as an act committed with the intent to sexually molest, arouse, or gratify any person through the touching of another's intimate parts or material directly covering such intimate parts.
Sexual battery is a Class I misdemeanor, punishable by jail of not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500.00. A conviction of sexual battery can also require registration as a sex offender in Virginia.
Aggravated Sexual Battery
This charge includes those who allegedly committed the offense of sexual battery along with certain aggravating factors, such as:
- The alleged victim is under 13 years of age;
- The alleged victim was mentally or physically helpless;
- The offense is committed by certain relatives against a person between 13 and 18 years of age;
- The act is committed by force, threat, or intimidation, or causes serious harm.
This charge is a felony, carrying a prison sentence of 1-20 years and a fine up to $100,000. A conviction requires registration as a sex offender.
Carnal knowledge occurs when a person engages in certain sexual conduct with an individual between the age of 13 and under 15 without the use of force. This charge is sometimes referred to as "statutory rape."
In this charge, unlike rape, lack of consent is not necessary. The underage person could have willingly engaged in the act and you could still be charged.
Penalties for this charge depend on the age of the victim, the age of the alleged offender, and the age difference between the two.
A charge of rape is very serious and carries severe penalties. Rape occurs when an offender has sexual intercourse with another person:
- Against the complaining witness' will, by force, threat, or intimidation of force; or
- Through the use of the complaining witness' mental incapacity or physical helplessness; or
- With a person under 13 years of age, whether or not force was used.
A conviction for rape in Virginia can result in imprisonment of not less than five years up to life in prison. Rape committed against those under the age of 18, and when there is more than three years difference in age, results in a mandatory 25-year minimum prison sentence. A conviction for rape also requires life-long sex offender registration.
Object Sexual Penetration
Object sexual penetration is similar to rape, except that an animate or inanimate object is used to perpetrate the sexual penetration. The second element to prove object sexual penetration requires the same showings as those of rape in regards to force, incapacity, or age.
If a person is convicted of object sexual penetration they will face between five years to life in prison. Under certain circumstances, the minimum prison sentence may be increased to 25 years. Further, if convicted of the offense the individual charged must register as a sex offender.
Sexual Attempt Crimes
Sexual attempt crimes vary and cover any attempt of a sex crime under Virginia law. With attempt crimes, it is not necessary to prove that any act was carried out to completion.
Attempted sex crimes in Virginia include:
- Attempted Rape
- Attempted Aggravated Sexual Battery
- Attempted Forcible Sodomy
- Attempted Object Sexual Penetration
- Attempted Sexual Battery
Even if a person never completes the criminal act, they can still be charged if there was an:
- 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.
The penalties for attempted sex offenses vary depending on both the circumstances of the individual case and the particular crime which was attempted. Penalties for attempt are typically lower than that of the offense if fully carried out.
For example, a conviction for rape can result in a prison term of 5 years to life, while attempted rape carries a prison term of 2-10 years.
Many sexual attempt crimes still carry sex offender registration requirements. A Virginia criminal attorney can advise you of your requirements as well as defend your criminal case.
Death of Victim
In extreme cases, the conduct underlying a sex offense charge may also have led to the death of the alleged victim. In such cases, in addition to the sex offense charges you may also be charged with:
- First Degree Murder
- Second Degree Murder
- Involuntary Manslaughter
Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, these additional charges can lead to additional fines and severe prison sentences.
Sex Offender Registration
Convicted sex offenders are required by both Federal and Virginia law to register with the sex offender registry. Failure to follow the rules imposed upon you can result in additional criminal penalties, including the possibility of additional prison time after your release.
Virginia law specifies certain offenses which require sex offender registration. The list is not limited only to sex offenses, but can also include criminal homicide, murder, or laws of another jurisdiction which require sex offender registration. Offenses on the registration requirement list include:
- Object Sexual Penetration
- Sexual battery, Aggravated Sexual Battery
- Rape, Attempted Rape
- Forcible Sodomy
- Production, distribution, financing of child pornography
- Taking indecent liberties with a minor
- Solicitation of a minor
As of July 1, 2020, any individual who is convicted of three or more offenses of unlawfully disseminating or selling images of another person must also register. Individuals must also register if they were required to register in another jurisdiction (in another state besides Virginia) or if they were convicted in another jurisdiction of committing the same types of offenses that are prohibited under Virginia law.
Virginia law also now classifies the offenses requiring registration as Tier I, Tier II, or Tier III offenses. Tier I offenses includes the most serious crimes, like murder. Tier III offenses include lesser crimes like videotaping or photographing nude or semi-nude individuals without their consent.
The full list of sex offenses which require sex offender registration is published on the website of the Virginia State Police.
It is crucial that you know and follow the specific rules imposed upon you as part of your sentence. With the help of attorney Bryan J. Jones, you can make sure you follow the rules and avoid additional punishment.
Consult a Virginia Sex Offense Attorney
A sex offense has serious consequences including substantial prison time, high fines, and sex offender registration. Every case is unique but experienced attorney Bryan J. Jones can protect your constitutional rights throughout the criminal process. Contact us today.