Charges of sexual assault are so severe that they can result in job loss and permanent damage to your reputation. Your family may suffer from the allegations against you, and if convicted, you may lose your freedom and face significant restrictions even after you are released from prison or probation. Calling a West Palm Beach sexual assault lawyer when you are facing these charges may be the most effective step that you can take toward defending yourself.
The cost of a sexual assault conviction is immeasurable. Individuals convicted of this life-altering offense likely never will be able to achieve their personal or professional objectives. By enlisting the services of one of our experienced attorneys at Leifert & Leifert, you may place yourself in a more effective position to avoid or minimize the damage that these charges may cause on your life.
How is Sexual Assault Handled in West Palm Beach?
Although state law provides for various sex-related crimes, sexual battery, also referred to as sexual assault or rape, is one of the most severe criminal charges that individuals can face. The level of the charges may vary according to the circumstances, but they will result in a felony charge that carries a substantial risk of prison time in many cases. Sexual battery charges may occur when any penetration with any object occurs or when sexual organs are joined.
Sexual battery cannot occur unless there is evidence that the alleged victims did not consent to the activities that took place. Many circumstances can indicate a lack of consent, including the age of the alleged victims, mental or physical incapacitation, threats of force or violence, or the relative position of power that some individuals hold over others. For example, inmates in prison or jail cannot consent to sexual assault by law enforcement officials.
The evidence must show that consent to the sexual activities was intelligent, knowing, and voluntary. Anything less than that level of consent is nonconsensual and thus may result in sexual battery charges. A lawyer in West Palm Beach can assist in building a defense strategy based on consent or another essential element of the sexual assault statute.
Sexual Battery Charges and Penalties
Most sexual assaults are life felonies or first-degree felonies, which carry the potential for the harshest punishments available under state law. For example, individuals may face a life felony for sexual assault when it is against:
- Minors under the age of 12, which causes damages to their sexual organs
- Individuals 12 or older by using physical force that is likely to cause severe injury or threats to use a deadly weapon
- Individuals 12 or older who are physically incapacitated, drugged, passed out, or unconscious
A first-degree felony sexual assault charge may occur when individuals commit a sexual battery against others who are age 12 or older and either helpless to resist or facing threats of force, violence, or retaliation. Administering a narcotic or other intoxicating substance to individuals that incapacitates them and committing sexual battery on them also is a first-degree felony.
A life felony sexual assault conviction can result in a prison sentence of 30 years to life, and a first-degree Felony sexual assault conviction can lead to 30 years or life in prison and a $10,000 fine. For those assaults that constitute second-degree felonies, the prison sentence still is a maximum of 15 years upon conviction. Given the severity of these potential prison sentences, along with mandatory lifetime sex offender registration, individuals facing sexual assault charges may need the assistance of an attorney in West Palm Beach.
Required Sex Offender Registration
One of the most serious consequences of a sexual assault charges is the requirement to register as a sex offender. When someone is required to go through this process they must provide their name, address, picture, place of employment, and other identifying information. All of this information is public knowledge. Individuals must continue to provide this information to local law enforcement every two to four years, depending on the offenses as well as anytime this information change. Typically, individuals who are required to register as a sex offender following a sexual assault charge must stay on this list for life.
However, there may be some situations in which individuals can petition to be removed from this list after they have been on it for 25 years. Failing to register as a sex offender when required to do so is a felony offense that may result in up to ten years in prison. A West Palm Beach attorney could help someone who has been accused of sexual assault avoid this harsh consequence by preparing a strong defense.
Contact a West Palm Beach Sexual Assault Attorney
The life-changing consequences of a sexual assault conviction cannot be understated. Consulting a West Palm Beach sexual assault lawyer at Leifert & Leifert may be the most effective means of mounting a defense to the charges made against you.
Defenses to sexual assault are possible, depending on the facts of your case. Due to the gravity of these charges, you owe it to yourself to explore every option available for defending yourself. To learn more, be sure to schedule a consultation today.