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What to Expect if You Are Charged with a Federal Sex Crime

What to Expect if You Are Charged with a Federal Sex Crime

Being charged with a federal sex crime can be an incredibly scary and overwhelming experience. These charges carry severe penalties and can drastically impact your life, so it is critical to understand exactly what you may be facing and take action to protect yourself. This article provides an overview of federal sex crimes, typical penalties, and key things you need to know if you find yourself facing charges.

An Overview of Federal Sex Crimes

The federal government takes sex crimes extremely seriously. Federal jurisdiction applies when the crime occurs on federal property, involves interstate travel or commerce, or violates a specific federal law. Some of the most common federal sex crimes include:

  • Sex trafficking: Involves recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person for commercial sex acts. This can involve force, fraud, or coercion and includes sex trafficking of minors.
  • Child pornography: Possessing, distributing, or producing sexually explicit images and videos of minors. This includes receiving or downloading child pornography online.
  • Traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct: Crossing state lines or traveling internationally to engage in illegal sexual activity, such as sex with a minor.
  • Sexual abuse: Engaging in or attempting to engage in sexual acts by force, threat of force, or with victims unable to consent like children, patients, or prisoners.

Penalties for Federal Sex Crimes

The penalties for federal sex offenses are severe. They often include lengthy mandatory minimum prison sentences, massive fines, asset forfeiture, lifetime sex offender registration, and extended supervised release. Some key penalties include:

  • Prison time: Federal sentences often range from 10+ years up to life in prison depending on the charges and circumstances. There are often lengthy mandatory minimums.
  • Fines: Individual fines can exceed $250,000 per charge. The total amounts can be massive.
  • Asset forfeiture: Assets connected with the crimes may be seized by the government.
  • Supervised release: Extends federal oversight similar to parole ranging from 5 years to life.
  • Sex offender registration: Requires listing on national sex offender registries, sometimes for life. This brings many restrictions.

In addition to the direct legal penalties, a conviction can make finding employment, housing, and living a normal life very difficult. Federal sex crime charges must be taken extremely seriously.

If You Are Facing Charges: Key Things to Know

If you find yourself accused of a federal sex offense, here are some key things you need to know:

You Need an Experienced Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

The penalties for federal sex crimes are severe, so building an aggressive defense with an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer is critical. They understand the complex federal laws and sentencing guidelines and can thoroughly investigate the case against you while advocating for your rights. Relying on an appointed public defender is generally not advisable given the stakes.

There Are Often Viable Defenses

Simply being accused or charged with a federal sex offense does not mean you are guilty or will be convicted. There may be flaws in the government’s case and evidence, issues with how evidence was collected, or defenses that apply to your specific situation. An attorney can analyze the case and raise appropriate defenses. Some common defenses in federal sex crime cases include:

  • Lack of criminal intent: You did not have the requisite criminal intent or mens rea to commit the crime.
  • Mistaken identity: You have been wrongly identified as the perpetrator.
  • Entrapment: You were improperly induced or coerced into committing the offense by government agents.
  • Statute of limitations: The statute of limitations time period for filing charges has expired.
  • Illegal search and seizure: Evidence was collected or your property was seized in violation of your Constitutional rights.

Other factual and legal defenses may also apply depending on the details of your case.

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