Pre-Filing of Sex Charges
If you have been contacted by law enforcement in connection with allegations such as rape, lewd and lascivious conduct, or Internet sex crimes, you should contact an experienced St. Petersburg sex crime lawyer. It is essential to have a skillful attorney on your side, even if charges have not yet been filed against you. Sometimes, to coax you to talk, the police suggest that they will help you if you cooperate. You should not believe them. The police are not responsible for filing sex crime charges. The State Attorney's Office makes decisions about whether to charge a sex crime and which charge or charges to bring. Retaining a St. Petersburg criminal attorney during the pre-filing process can make a difference to the outcome of your case.The Pre-Filing Process Related to Sex Charges
Often, sex crime charges are pursued at the behest of a victim, or a victim's parents when the victim is a child. The most crucial evidence may be obtained through a controlled call, in which the victim or parent calls you to confront you. You should retain an attorney as soon as you suspect that you are being investigated for a sex crime. If the police ask to search your home, computer, workplace, email, or car without a warrant, you should politely say no and contact an attorney. Any evidence that you voluntarily provide is admissible and can be used to convict you.
Proving a sex crime is challenging, and in many cases, the prosecutor only pursues it on the strength of the victim's credibility or age. Officers may call off an investigation when a victim does not want the case to be pursued or when they are instructed to call it off by the prosecutor. If your attorney has an opportunity to talk to the prosecutor before sex crime charges are filed, they may be able to influence the prosecutor to see things from your perspective. There is a wide range of sex crimes that may be charged in a particular situation, and in some cases, it is possible to show the prosecutor that the harshest charges are not appropriate. Sometimes law enforcement takes a biased view of a crime, particularly in a situation involving allegations related to children.
It may be possible to persuade the prosecutor to agree to a plea deal involving a lesser crime, or not to file any charges related to a major crime, due to insufficient evidence during the pre-filing stage. For example, unnatural and lascivious acts is a lesser included offense for other sex crimes. Lesser included offenses can be necessarily included offenses, which are always committed when somebody commits a greater crime, or they can be permissibly included offenses, which are only sometimes committed when a greater crime is committed.
Unnatural and lascivious acts may be a lesser included offense for lewd and lascivious battery, lewd and lascivious molestation, lewd or lascivious conduct, or lewd or lascivious exhibition. However, the charge of unnatural and lascivious acts is a second-degree misdemeanor, while lewd and lascivious charges are often felonies that are punished more severely. In some cases, the prosecutor may be able to understand that while they can secure a conviction for unnatural and lascivious acts, the victim is not credible enough or the evidence is not strong enough for a felony lewd and lascivious charge.
The penalties associated with sex crimes are among the most severe penalties charged in the criminal justice system in St. Petersburg and elsewhere in Florida. A plea or conviction carries the potential for imprisonment, probation, and fines, as well as a lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender in some cases. However, for some lesser offenses, there is not a requirement for registration, and this alone can be a benefit of getting in touch with the prosecutor early in the process and presenting evidence that supports your defenses.Seek Advocacy from a Knowledgeable St. Petersburg Attorney
If you are being investigated for a sex crime, you should contact us during the pre-filing process so that we can start protecting your rights. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation since 1994. We are staunchly committed to protecting the rights of the accused. Call Hanlon Law at 727.897.5413 or contact us through our online form.