Sex crimes are some of the most serious and frightening crimes you can be faced with. They carry a deep and lasting stigma — even when the allegation is unproven — and frequently come down to one person’s word against another’s. The list of criminal penalties is long, steep and sometimes disproportionate, and they can follow you long after you’ve served your time:
- Years or decades in prison
- Steep fines
- Lifelong registration as a sex offender
- Restrictions on where you may work or live
- Requirements to notify neighbors of your conviction.
- Loss of certain professional licenses
- Revocation of your right to vote and to bear arms, as a convicted felon.
- In cases involving children or federal cases, civil forfeiture of property related to the crime.
- In some cases, ongoing electronic monitoring.
None of these take into account the personal and professional consequences of a sex crime conviction. After a sex-related criminal charge is known, those charged may have serious troubles at work, at home and in the community. Marriages end, jobs may be lost and friends may disappear after a sex crime conviction. On top of the criminal penalties, these personal and social consequences can be overwhelming. That’s why, if you’re charged with a sex crime in Alabama, it’s crucial to have an experienced, effective legal advocate by your side. Don’t say a single word to law enforcement until a lawyer is by your side.
Federal and Alabama State Sex Crimes Defense
We defend clients charged in Alabama with serious state or federal sex crimes charges, including:
- Rape, date rape and statutory rape
- Non-consensual sodomy
- Sexual torture and sexual abuse
- Indecent exposure or public lewdness
- Prostitution, interstate or foreign prostitution and promoting prostitution (pimping)
- Enticing a child into a building or vehicle for sexual purposes
- Sexual abuse of a child under 12
- Soliciting or transmitting obscene material to a child by computer
- Sex offender registration violations
- Crossing state or foreign borders for sex with a minor
- Overseas “sex tourism”
- Child-pornography-related charges
In many cases, state and federal charges are both possible for the same crime. Charges relating to the internet, interstate or overseas travel or federal lands are most likely to be federal charges, while simple sexual assault is most likely to be a state charge.
Rape and Sexual Assault in Alabama
First-degree rape is the most serious rape charge in Alabama. You will likely to be charged with first-degree rape if your accuser claims you used force to have sexual intercourse; had intercourse with someone who was drugged or otherwise incapable of giving consent; or had intercourse with a minor under 12 years old (as long as you’re 16 or older). Second-degree rape is Alabama’s statutory rape charge; it applies to people over 16 accused of intercourse with a minor between the ages of 12 and 16, but with an age difference of at least two years. The same rules apply to sodomy charges; consensual sodomy is not illegal in Alabama.
Sexual torture is the name Alabama gives to non-consensual penetration with an inanimate object, while sexual abuse is the name for non-consensual, non-intercourse sexual contact. If the alleged victim is under age 12, this is charged as sexual abuse of a child. An incest charge requires sexual intercourse with a blood or adopted relation, or a stepchild or stepparent. Indecent exposure and lewd acts in public are both misdemeanors criminalizing public sex acts or self-exposure.
The State of Alabama takes sex crimes very seriously. The least serious of these charges, promoting prostitution in the third degree and indecent exposure, are Class A misdemeanors carrying up to a year in prison. The most serious, including first-degree rape and sexual torture, are Class A felonies that draw 10 years to life. Because of their interstate nature, the federal charges can be even more serious. If you are involved in any way — personal or financial — in moving a minor across state lines for sexual purposes, you can spend 40 years to life in prison. In many other cases, you face 5 to 20 years in prison or more for federal sex crimes violations.
Alabama state law defines several sex crimes, which can be broadly divided into:
- Rape and other types of sexual assault on an adult
- Sexual abuse of a child and other child-related sex crimes
- Prostitution-related charges
- Indecent exposure, public lewdness and other “nuisance” sex charges
First-degree rape is intercourse by force, intercourse with someone who is physically helpless or mentally incapacitated, or intercourse by anyone age 16 or older with a child younger than 12. It is a Class A felony. Second-degree rape is intercourse with anyone who cannot consent because he or she is “mentally defective.” Second-degree rape is also Alabama’s statutory rape law, charged against anyone age 16 or older who has intercourse with a minor between the ages of 12 and 16, but only if the age difference is two years or more. It is a Class B felony. Sexual misconduct covers intercourse by fraud or artifice, and is a Class A misdemeanor.
Any other type of non-consensual sexual contact may be charged as sexual torture, a Class A felony, or first-degree or second-degree sexual abuse, which follows the sentencing and conditions for rape.
Molestation of a child is charged as rape in Alabama; sexual abuse of a child is defined as any non-intercourse sexual conduct with a child under 12. However, Alabamans take child molestation very seriously; you can expect prosecutors to ask for the maximum possible sentence. Furthermore, any child-related sex charges involving the internet are likely to be charged under federal law, which provides very harsh penalties, including decades in prison and confiscation of money and property authorities believe is related to the crime.
Indecent exposure and public lewdness laws prohibit the public display of genitals and are misdemeanors. Prostitution laws apply to suppliers, customers and “pimps,” and range from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class B felony, depending on the age of the people involved, the size of the business and the degree of consent.
Aggressive Alabama Sex Crimes Defense
We understand that a criminal charge related to sex can be devastating. We believe that everyone deserves an aggressive and thorough defense, no matter what the charges against them. Because sex crimes are emotional, headline-grabbing cases, law enforcement sometimes cuts corners in its haste to build a case. The first thing our office will do after taking your case is comb through the evidence against you to find flaws, weak evidence or violations of your rights that can get the case dropped or the charges lowered dramatically, such as:
- Signs that evidence was obtained illegally
- Cases built on false, unreliable or unproven testimony (“he said, she said”)
- Violations of your right to an attorney or other civil rights
- Withholding or ignoring potentially exonerating evidence
- Lack of intent or knowledge, both of which are required for many sex-related charges
- In computer-related cases, alternative explanations for technological evidence
If it’s appropriate to go to trial in your case, we are prepared to hire the private investigators and expert witnesses you need to prove the prosecution is full of hot air. Remember, no matter how the community may feel about the crime you’re accused of, the prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt in court. Don’t settle for any less — hire an aggressive Alabama sex crimes defense attorney.