The elements required to convict a defendant of a sexual offense in Virginia vary greatly based upon several factors. The age of this victim, the age of the alleged perpetrator, the degree of force used to perpetrate an assault, and the nature of an assault each factor into a determination of what crime, if any, a defendant can be charged and convicted of. The Virginia Court of Appeals recently heard an appeal by a defendant who challenged his aggravated sexual battery conviction based upon allegations that he molested a fourteen-year-old girl who was sleeping at her home.
The defendant in the recently decided appeal was charged with aggravated sexual battery after he allegedly touched the genitals of the cousin of someone he was dating who lived in their home. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the victim, who was fourteen years old at the time of the assault, had been sleeping on the couch in her home when she awoke to the defendant touching her genitals. After the victim notified other adults of what happened and authorities were notified, the defendant was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual battery.
To obtain a conviction for aggravated sexual battery, Virginia law requires the state to prove that a sexual act was accomplished against the will of a victim by force, threat, or intimidation. During a bench trial, the defense argued that because the victim was asleep at the time the attack initially occurred, that the state could not demonstrate that the attack was committed by force, threat, or intimidation under the law. The trial judge rejected the defense arguments, finding that the state proved that the criminal act was committed with “constructive force,” which is defined as an act without a victim’s consent or against their will. Based on that finding, the defendant was convicted of aggravated sexual battery and sentenced to twenty years in prison.
The defendant appealed his conviction to the Virginia Court of Appeals, challenging the ruling that the defendant’s conduct constituted constructive force. Outlining the relevant law and legal precedent, the Appeals Court upheld the lower ruling. The Court reiterated that a sleeping victim is unable to give consent to sexual activity. Further noting that a sexual act performed without consent is committed with constructive force under Virginia law, the court upheld the conviction and sentence.
Have You Been Charged With a Sex Crime in Virginia?
Being accused of a sex crime can be an embarrassing and terrifying experience. Virginia laws concerning sex crimes can be complex and difficult to understand, however, the implications of varying sex crime convictions can be tremendous. If you have been charged with a sex crime in Virginia, retaining a qualified Virginia criminal defense attorney at Robinson Law, PLLC can help you fight the charges against you, and give you the best chance of emerging from the ordeal and avoiding an extremely harsh sentence. Sex crime prosecutions can be high profile, and prosecutors are eager to obtain convictions of alleged sex offenders, even when the law may not support the charges brought. At Robinson Law, we understand the complexities of Virginia law, and we help our clients avoid being convicted of crimes that they did not commit. Our skilled defense lawyers represent clients charged with all Virginia felonies and misdemeanors, including sexual assault charges. If you’ve been accused of a crime, call (703) 844-3746 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our attorneys today.