Child Sex Offenses
Children are our future and, for the most part, bring joy to the lives of those around them. However, when a minor makes false accusations of physical and sexual abuse, they can turn your life into a nightmare. If you or a loved one are facing spurious accusations of sexual abuse of a child, it is important that you have an advocate on your side who is not afraid to defend you and will fight vigorously for you, no matter how shameful the claims might be. At the Fairfax criminal defense law firm of Robinson, PLLC, we aggressively defend the rights of clients facing all types of child sex offenses.What Does Virginia Law Say About Child Sex Crimes?
There are several laws that make sexual abuse against minors a crime. All types of sexual intercourse with a minor under 13 years old are known as statutory rape and are punished by a mandatory life sentence in prison. Va. Code Sections 18.2-61, 18.2-67.1, 18.2-67.2. This includes any type of penetration with any type of object for a non-medical purpose. Va. Code Section 18.2-67.2.
But other types of sexual contact or sexual activity with minors are also a crime called “taking indecent liberties” with a child. For these crimes, a “child” is any person under 15 years old. A person who exposes his or her genitals to a child, asks a child to fondle his or her genitals, or even proposes any type of sexual contact is guilty of indecent liberties if it was done with “lascivious intent.” Va. Code Section 18.2-370. “Lascivious intent” means that you had the purpose of being sexually aroused. Taking indecent liberties with a child is a Class 5 felony, meaning that it can be punished by up to 10 years in prison. If these “indecent liberties” are done between two minors, then it is only a misdemeanor for the minor. Va. Code Section 18.2-370.01.
In Virginia, the law does not use the actual term “age of consent.” There is no law that says how old a person must be before it’s not a crime to have consensual sex with him or her. However, consensual sex with any person 16 years old or older is not included in any criminal statute, as long as the minor is not in the legal custody of the other consenting adult. In other words, it’s only a crime to have consensual sexual activities with a person who is 16, 17, or 18 years old if you’re the person’s guardian or have some other legal supervisory authority over that minor. See Va. Code Sections 18.2-63, 18.2-64.1, 18.2-370, 18.2-370.1.
However, all types of sexual intercourse and sexual contact are illegal between a person and his or her parents, grandparents, or siblings, including step-parents, step-grandparents, and step-siblings, no matter how old either person is and no matter whether they consent. Va. Code Sections 18.2-361, 18.2-366.
Yes, anybody who has asked a chocolate-covered child if he ate the pan of brownies on the countertop knows that children must be taught to tell the truth and that they can and will lie if it benefits them in some way. Many adults are the same way! Just because the child is talking about sexual activity does not make him or her more truthful or reliable. A skilled defense attorney will be familiar with the reasons that children might lie or embellish their stories, such as a desire for attention. Your attorney can also find out where this child might have been exposed to such behavior elsewhere, such as on television, the internet, or at a friend or relative’s house.
Children are also highly susceptible to manipulation, so this must also be defended against. A sloppy interview by a counselor, police officer, or even family member can plant ideas in a child’s head that then color all subsequent interviews and even the child’s testimony at trial. It is important that you have an attorney who is familiar with appropriate child-interview techniques so that she can see if the child’s story has been manipulated or influenced in any way.
What Do I Do If Somebody is Accusing Me of Acting Inappropriately Towards a Child?
Contact a lawyer immediately! Never talk to a police officer without an attorney; this is particularly important if you are innocent! You cannot talk yourself out of an arrest; you can only talk yourself into one. Cases involving children can often be difficult to prove in court without some sort of statement or confession from the accused person. Don’t give the police and prosecution more ammunition to use against you in court.
A police officer who is investigating a claim of child sexual abuse will almost always try to get you to talk to them about the accusations. The police officer may say things like they only want to clear things up, or they only want to hear your side of the story. But what the police officer is really trying to do is get you to admit that you did something illegal. The police officer will use various conversational tactics to make you feel like admitting to criminal behavior is your only choice. You may think that you would never fall for such tricks, but hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people have fallen for these same tricks that police officers use.
You also should not talk about these accusations with other people because your statements to them could be used against you in court too. A family member or friend may try to call you and get you to talk about the case on the phone, all while a police officer is recording the conversation to use in court. Something that you may think is completely innocent could then be used to “prove you guilty” in court.Is Someone Claiming You Committed a Child Sex Crime?
If you have been recently arrested and charged with a child sex offense or any other type of sex crime in Virginia, reach out to the dedicated Fairfax criminal defense lawyers at Robinson Law, PLLC. At Robinson Law, PLLC, we have decades of experience aggressively defending the rights of individuals charged with child sex offenses, including possession of child pornography. We can help develop a compelling defense to the charges you face, regardless of the allegations against you. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, call (703) 844-3746. You can also connect with us through our online form.