Sex crime cases are usually associated with specific and multifaceted issues and many of the cases often go to trial. A sex crime is committed when an individual does not consent to an act that is sexual in nature. Typically, the alleged victim will file a complaint with a law enforcement agency and in some incidents, important evidence like DNA is recuperated as part of a sexual assault kit. In defining what category of crime the offender should be charged with, the police together with the prosecutor will consider the following aspects; whether the conduct involved the use of a weapon, force or threats to lure the victim; the age of the complainant and the mental and physical ability of the casualty.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines
Federal Sentencing Guidelines govern all Federal criminal sentences. These guidelines are the intricate system that defines the sentencing ranges for specific crimes in the federal system. The guidelines are complicated but constitute an easy to understand sentencing grid or table used in calculating the sentencing range. The table or sentencing grid contains a criminal history category across the top and offense levels on the vertical axis. The offense levels are usually referred to as points. For every federal criminal offense, there’s a definite number of points attached to it. It’s important to note that points are also subtracted or added depending on aggravating or mitigating aspects. The criminal category is also determined once the number of points has been calculated. The criminal history category designates whether you have or multiple offenses or zero to one prior offense.
There are only six distinct categories of the criminal history. If you have both the offense level and criminal history determined, the sentencing grid or table is then used to determine the sentencing guideline. However, a judge may choose to deviate from the guideline and instead give either a lesser or a higher sentence for either mitigating or aggravating circumstances. It is important to also note that most federal crimes don’t qualify for probation as a result of the point system.
Can a Judge Deviate from Felony Sentencing Guidelines?
Before handing down a final verdict, judges are free to deliberate the specifics of each case presented to them and may pronounce verdicts outside the proposed range. A defendant’s behavior before, during, and after the offense is one of the common factors that judges consider.
Aggravated factors are actions that cause a judge to increase the sentence above the proposed maximum. Examples of aggravating factor include:
- Death of one or more people
- Use of a deadly weapon during the crime
- Serious physical injury to a victim
Also, the judge may consider mitigating aspects that can be used to justify a sentence less than the proposed minimum, such as:
- The perpetrator having committed the crime under pressure or forced
- The victim's conduct contributing greatly to infuriating the perpetrator
- Helping authorities in bringing more defendants to justice
Are you charged with a sex crime and would want to know is how severe it is? Your first move should be contacting an experienced sex crime attorney who will help you understand whether you are likely to face misdemeanor or felony sex charges. Sexual offenses receive varied classifications depending on their severity. Infractions are the mildest crimes, while more serious crimes are referred to as misdemeanors. The most serious crimes of all are referred to as felonies. It is imperative to understand the main differences between these classifications since they impact the substance and procedure of any criminal charge.
Broad Classification of Sex Offenses
Misdemeanors and felonies are the main two classifications of federal crimes. The possible penalties for misdemeanors include significant fines and a prison term, usually not exceeding one year. Felonies are the most severe kind of crime, punishable by up to life imprisonment. Federal felony offenses are classified into classes as follows; Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D and Class E. Misdemeanors are classified into Classes A, B, and C. In both categories the first classes are considered the most serious and receive the most severe sentencing. Each subsequent class is less severe.
Let’s take an in-depth look at these classes and their sentencing as provided under 18 U.S. Code § 3559.
Class A Felony
This Class is earmarked specifically for the severe types of felonies including kidnapping in the first degree, involuntary servitude of a minor, or other atrocious crimes. For a sex crime to be considered a first-degree offense, it must have been committed with the use or threatened use of a weapon in the course of a forceful sexual act, the casualty suffered serious bodily injury or the act resulted in the victim’s death.
Some of the Class A sex offenses include:
- First degree and second-degree sexual abuse
- Sexual abuse of a child under 12 years of age
- Forcible Rape
- Forcible sodomy
- Carnal knowledge of a child below 12 years
- Manslaughter or murder committed before, in the course of or after engaging or attempting to engage in rape, sexual contact or any other sexual act
- Sodomy committed against a child under twelve years
- Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor, unless consensual, case then not registration offense
- Illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance
- Child enticement
- Gross sexual imposition
Under federal law, Class A felony charges have the most severe penalties compared to the other classifications. An individual convicted of a Class A felony will face life imprisonment in the federal prison, or if the maximum penalty is death and a heavy monetary fine of up to $250, 000.
Class B felony
This is a felony classification that covers crimes that are severe but not the most serious offenses. Given that it is Felony, Class B felony charges carry tough punishments such as a lengthy prison sentence and/or heavy fines. Class B sex offenders receive imprisonment less than twenty-five years but ten or more years in prison and/or a fine not exceeding $250,000. A convicted felon may be left to face the roughest and lifelong repercussions, such as, permanent marks on their records, strict supervision through probation or parole, and a lengthy prison sentence that is likely to detach them from their families.
The maximum penalty is not always automatic; usually, the prosecution will recommend a verdict based on the conditions of the offense and your criminal history. Also, the judge has discretionary authority in sentencing. The offender may be given a lesser penalty by the judge only if there exist mitigating conditions. In some situations, the offender will get a longer sentence for aggravating circumstances including, using a deadly weapon in committing a sex crime, sexual offenses involving a minor, and previous convictions.
Class C Felony
Class C felony represents a middle of the road crime because they are still serious but not as such compared to Class A and B. But still, Class C felony conviction comes with a lengthy prison sentence, particularly if the defendant has a prior conviction or aggravating factors. In most sex crimes, any individual convicted of committing a sex offense against an individual 18 years or older, his or her offenses will be classified as Class C felony.
The presumptive sentences for class C felonies without taking into account aggravating circumstances or prior convictions include 10 years or more (but not exceeding 25 years) in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000.
Class D felony
This is the least serious Classification of felonies. By and large, Class D felonies are not characterized by dangerous or violent acts. Actually, many Class D felony offenses are victimless. Just like other Felonies, Class D felony is still subject to harsh sentencing such as lengthy jail sentences, fines, and strict probation circumstances. Even after you have concluded serving your sentence, you will still feel the effects of a Class D conviction because it will permanently remain on your criminal record. A felony conviction can be damaging given that it can prevent you from getting a decent job, visitation privileges to your kids, student loans for college, or an apartment.
Examples of Class D offenses include urinating in public spaces, solicitation and indecent exposure in the public.
If convicted of a Class D felony, the defendant will face less than 5 years but more than 1 year in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 or a probation term of between 1 to 5 years.
Misdemeanor Classes and Legal Penalties
Federal law classifies misdemeanors into three subcategories, according to the degree of severity of the offense.
Misdemeanors under the federal law are classified into Class A, Class B, and Class C. Class A misdemeanors have the most serious consequences compared to the ensuing Classes. This means that, if your offenses are classified as Class C misdemeanor, you are likely to face a relatively small fine.
Examples of Class A misdemeanor offenses include broadcasting obscene language, distributing indecent material by subscription TV or cable, and obscenity in general. The penalties for a Class A misdemeanor can range from 1 year or less but more than 6 months’ prison term and a fine of up to $100,000. The probation term is between zero to five years.
A Class A misdemeanor will remain permanently on your criminal record unless the criminal record is sealed or expunged. Not all Class A misdemeanors are expunged and whether or not expungement applies in a given case will depend on the seriousness of the offense and whether or not the defendant completed probation.
Sentencing for Other Misdemeanors
Class B: prison term 6 months or less but more than 30 days and a maximum fine of $5,000 Class C: prison term 30 days or less but more than 5 days and a maximum fine of $5,000
It’s worth noting that if a misdemeanor offense resulted in death, then the maximum fine is increased to $250,000. Infractions are generally punished by a federal prison term of 5 days or less, a maximum fine of $5,000. The probation term ranges from 0 to 5 years. A federal misdemeanor or even petty charges can have serious effects on an individual’s life. Some federal misdemeanors can deny one child custody or visitation privileges, eligibility for professional licenses, employment, or student loans.
What is meant by Misdemeanor Expungement?
An expungement is basically a court-ordered process involving the sealing of a criminal record of a criminal conviction or an arrest. Once a conviction has been expunged, the criminal conviction is set aside as if the offense never occurred. As a result, the applicant gets a clean record that can be used when applying for housing, employment, etc. Misdemeanor expungement can only be accessed by individuals who have successfully completed their criminal sentences and have been able to uphold an excellent record ever since. In addition, before any misdemeanor expungement is granted, it is a requirement that a given number of years (usually anywhere from 5 to 10 years) must pass after the last conviction.
Civil Consequences for Federal Convictions
Apart from the criminal penalties described above, being convicted of a Class A felony can also lead to many detrimental civil consequences including;
- Loss of driving privileges
- Loss of the right to vote
- Jury duty restriction
- Loss of occupational licenses
- Loss of rights to own a firearm
- Loss of child custody/visitation privileges
Civil Liability for a Conviction
Also, the plaintiff in a federal level sex crime may sue the defendant for compensation based on the following:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Property damage
- Bodily injuries sustained during the crime
- Lost wages
Contact Sex Crime Attorney
Federal sex crimes are severely charged and prosecuted. The penalties upon sentencing are harsh. So, if you are arrested or receive a federal violation notice, your best course of action would be contacting a seasoned Sex Crime Attorney as soon as possible. This is imperative since your reputation, freedom, and future is at stake. The public and even your loved ones may be quick to judge and abandon you at this trying time. But at Sex Crime Attorney, we will by your side fighting for your rights as a defendant. We will discuss the facts of your case and can develop a strong defense strategy to challenge the prosecution’s case with the aim of having the charges reduced or dismissed.
We can help you be treated in a fair and appropriate manner, avoid excessive fines or reduce your fines, and offer you legal representation throughout the process. Call us today at 888-666-8480 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free, legal consultation. Time is of the essence