While facing allegations of any crime can be damaging for anyone, some crimes can create a major stigma and damage to ones personal and professional reputation regardless if a conviction results. Being accused of a sex crime is not a minor situation. Therefore, individuals charged with a sex crime should take the time to fully understand the charges against them and explore the defense options available to them.
To understand the severity of sex crime allegations, it is vital to grasp what penalties could occur. In the state of Indiana, there are six levels of sex crimes with level 1 the most severe. For a level 1 felony sex crime, the accused could face 20 to 40 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. This is reduced to 10 to 30 years incarceration for a level 2 felony; however, the severity of the fine remains for all levels. In contrast, a level 6 felony could result in 6 to 30 months of incarceration.
A common defense strategy is consent. This means that the individual involved was over the age of consent, which is 16-years-old in the state of Indiana. Additionally, the individual was conscious and wanted the sexual contact. Other defense options include innocence, meaning they were not the individual that committed the act, or insanity, which implies they didn’t have the mental capacity to understand their conduct.
In matters involving child molestation or sexual misconduct with a child, it is permitted in Indiana to assert that the individual reasonably believed that the child was at least 16 years of age at the time of the sexual activity. Other defenses include asserting that the child involved is or was married; however, this only applies to consensual sexual activity. Additionally, if the accused is no more than 4 years older that the individual involved, they are dating, no aggravating factors exist and the accused has no record of a sex offense, then the Romeo and Juliet exception could apply.
Creating a strong and aggressive defense strategy could assist a defendant in a wide range of ways. To begin, it could prevent or limit the damage the allegations could have on his or her reputation. Next, it could reduce the penalties one could face. Lastly, it could help clear one’s name. Thus, it is imperative to consider what strategies are available to determine the best defense route to take.