SEX CRIMES

Sex Crimes Lawyer

Defending Accused Citizens Against Serious Allegations of Sex Crimes in Montgomery County

 

Benton Baker has extensive experience representing individuals accused of the most serious sex offenses in the state criminal courts in Texas.  He has successfully represented individuals under investigation for sexual offenses often preventing criminal charges from being filed.

 

 

The Personal Toll of Allegations of Sex Crimes

Allegations of, and convictions for, sex crimes have devastating personal, professional and legal consequences. Most sex crimes are serious felonies under either state or federal law. Regardless of the circumstances, the mere accusation of a sex crime can dramatically change the course of your life, while a conviction for a sex offense can literally destroy it.

 

Being a sex offender places you in the most vilified group in society. That’s because sex offenders are universally despised and ostracized from mainstream society. Housing and employment opportunities become exceedingly difficult to find. Family and friends often drift away. Depression and hopelessness become a part of daily life for a convicted sex offender.

 

Virtually every state in this country has passed sex registration or civil commitment laws. These laws are designed to keep sex offenders under lifetime supervision and surveillance. Civil commitment is lock down preventive detention in mental health facilities, while sex offender registration is a lifetime community monitoring program. The former incapacitates while the latter restricts. Either way, you will always be in the custody of the government.

 

TEXAS SEX CRIMES

Sex Crimes in Texas

 

There are four primary categories: 

Indecency with a child (Texas Penal code § 21.11); 

Sexual assault (Texas Penal code § 22.011) ;

Aggravated sexual assault (Texas Penal code § 22.021); and

Possession of child pornography (Texas Penal code §42.26).

 

Indecency with a child occurs when a person engages in sexual contact with a child, regardless of gender, when the child is under 17 years of age and is not the spouse of the offender. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently held that a defendant cannot be punished for both contacting and penetrating a victim’s sexual organ with multiple sentences. Indecency with a child can be either a second or three degree felony depending upon the circumstances, meaning the maximum term of imprisonment could be as high as 10 or 20 years…

 

Sexual assault of a child occurs if the victim is younger than 17 years of age with the assault becoming “aggravated” if the victim is younger than 14 years of age. Sexual assault of a child is a second degree felony while aggravated sexual assault of a child is a first degree felony, meaning a possible life sentence in prison.

 

Offenses with Mandatory 25-Life

 

In 2007, the Texas Legislature created two new crimes: continuous sexual abuse of a child (the Jessica Lunsford Act) and “super” aggravated sexual assault.

 

Continuous sexual abuse of a child involves (two or more acts) of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14 over a period of 30 days. This is a first degree felony. § 22.02 requires a minimum penalty of 25 years with no provision for early release.

 

Super aggravated sexual assault imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years for the sexual assault of a child if the victim is younger than 6 or if the victim is younger than 14 and the defendant engages in such violent conduct as to raise the sexual assault of an adult to aggravated sexual assault.

 

Automatic Life Sentence for Repeat Offenders

 

An automatic life sentence without parole is imposed on repeat offenders for either offense. There is no possibility of probation or deferred adjudication.

 

Child Pornography and Associated Offenses

 

Child pornography is defined as “visual material depicting a child under 18 at the time the image was made engaging in sexual conduct.” The term “possession” is defined by the Penal Code as “actual care, custody, control or management.” Possession of child pornography can be either a third or second degree felony depending upon the amount possessed.

 

Two additional sex crimes are commonly associated with possession of child pornography: improper videoing or photographing a minor (§ 21.15) and sexual performance of a child (§ 43.25). The former is a state jail felony while the latter is a second degree felony subject to increase to first degree felony if the victim is under the age of 14.  Restitution can also be ordered to individuals victimized by the pornography.

 

Do Not Talk to Federal Law Enforcement Agents, FBI without a Lawyer

 

Not realizing the seriousness, or the criminal nature of the conduct, many individuals contacted about allegations of federal sex crimes talk to law enforcement agents without a lawyer.

 

Federal law enforcement agents are trained in interview tactics which gentle, or sometimes forcefully, apply psychological pressure on individuals to talk. Many times law enforcement will mislead suspects of their intent to “close the case” after the interview.  Do not be fooled by any of these police tactics; do not talk to any law enforcement agents without an experience sex crimes lawyer.

 

All Federal Sex Crimes are Serious

 

There has been a proliferation federal child protection laws over the past three decades that is alarming.

 

The following is a list of many of the laws enacted by Congress during that period regarding child pornography-related offenses:

  • Protection of Children Against Exploitation Act of 1978;

  • Child Protection Act of 1984;

  • Child Sexual Abuse and Pornography Act of 1986;

  • Child Abuse Victims’ Rights Act of 1986;

  • Child Protection Restoration and Penalties Enhancement Act of 1990;

  • Sex Crimes Against Children Prevention Act of 1995;

  • Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998;

  • Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003;

  • PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008;

  • Providing Resources, Officers, and Technology to Eradicate Cyber Threats to Our Children Act of 2008;

  • Keep the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act of 2008; and

  • Effective Child Pornography Prosecution Act of 2008.

 

Below is a sample list of the child exploitation laws that have come out of the Acts and which can be found in Title 18 United States Code:

 

  • 1462. Importation and Transportation of Obscene Matters;

  • 1465. Transportation of Obscene Matters for Sale or Distribution;

  • 1466. Engaging in the Business of Selling or Transferring Obscene Matter;

  • 1467. Criminal Forfeiture;

  • 1470. Transfer of Obscene Material to Minors;

  • 2241. Aggravated Sexual Abuse;

  • 2251A. Sexual Exploitation of Children;

  • 2251A (a) (b). Selling or Buying of Children;

  • 2252. Certain Activities Relating to Material Involving the Sexual Exploitation of Minors;

  • 2252A. Certain Activities Relating to Material Constituting or Containing Child Pornography;

  • 2253. Criminal Forfeiture;

  • 2254. Civil Forfeiture;

  • Record Keeping Requirements;

  • 2260. Production of Sexually Explicit Depictions of a Minor for Importation into the U.S.;

  • 2421. Transportation Generally;

  • 2422. Coercion and Enticement;

  • 2423(a). Transportation of Minors with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity;

  • 2223(b). Interstate Foreign Travel with Intent to Engage in a Sexual Act with a Juvenile;

  • 2225. Use of Interstate Facilities to Transmit Information about a Minor; and

  • 13032. Reporting of Child Pornography by Electronic Communication Service Provider.

 

Fear Used to Get Public Support

 

Federal lawmakers have been able to scare the public into accepting these laws, many of which unnecessarily overlap, with “estimates” that there are 100,000 sexual predators in the United States whose whereabouts are unknown. This is in addition to the more than 800,000 registered sex offenders in this country, more than 85,000 of whom reside in Texas.

 

Federal Law Enforcement Dedicated to Investigation of Child Sex Crimes

 

The U.S. Government Accountability Office identifies the following Federal government agencies responsible for detecting, investigating and preventing child-related sexual abuse:

 

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation: 313 personnel who primarily investigate: 1) producing child pornography; 2) permitting a minor to be used in child pornography; 3) selling or buying child pornography; and 4) transporting, shipping, receiving, or distributing child pornography by any means, including a computer.

  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJDP): Department of Justice in 2008 created Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) which is funded by OJDP funds and whose primary responsibility is to encourage communities nationwide to develop regional, multi-jurisdictional, and multiagency responses to Internet crimes against children. Millions of dollars of grant money ICAC are given to task forces at the Federal and state level, to investigate Internet crimes against children. In 2010, ICAC tasks forces investigated 32,300 child exploitation cases but made only 5,300 arrests.

  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): One of the first federal law enforcement agencies who investigated child sexual exploitation, beginning in the early 1970s. Since 2003, ICE has focused its investigative efforts on trans-border violations and all cases with foreign links. These investigations include: 1) possession, receipt, distribution, advertisement, transportation, and production of child pornography; 2) trafficking of children for sexual purposes; and 3) traveling in foreign commerce to engage in sexually explicit conduct with minors (“sex tourism”). In 2010, ICE had 239 personnel dedicated to these investigations. They conducted 2,622 investigations that resulted in 931 arrests.

  • United States Secret Service (USSS): USSS provides forensic and technical assistance in cases involving missing and sexually exploited children. This assistance is provided by the Forensic Investigative and Support Team who respond to any law enforcement agency in the U.S. to perform forensic or technical examinations. Section 105 of the highly controversial Patriot Act required the USSS to develop a “national network” of “electronic task forces” to investigate electronic crimes who work with other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in the area of child pornography. In 2010, ICE conducted 188 investigations that resulted in149 arrests.

  • United States Postal Service: The U.S. Postal Service created the U.S. Postal Inspection Services (USPIS) to investigate crimes involving the U.S. mail. Postal Inspectors in the agency’s field divisions across the country are specially trained to conduct child exploitation offenses. In 2010, the agency had 26 full time and 19 part time personnel who conducted 141 child exploitation investigations that resulted in 115 arrests.

 

SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION

 

The consequences of a federal or state sex crimes conviction does not end with completion of the almost inevitable stiff prison sentence imposed upon conviction.

 

Under the National Sex Offender Registration and Notification System (SORNA), sex offenders must register and maintain current sex offender registration information about his or her residence location, school attendance data, employment status data, and other personal information.

 

There are three tiers of sex offender registration under SORNA, with each tier encompassing certain sex offense designations. Tier I sex offenses require 15 years of registration while Tier II requires 25 years of registration. Tier III demands lifetime registration.

 

Failure to Register as Sex Offender

 

Failure to register, to update status, and entering improper information is a federal felony and can result in a sentence up to 10 years and significant fines.  Failure to register can also be prosecuted in state courts and in Texas can carry penalties as high as 10 years in prison.

 

Sex Offender Registry

 

The National Registry requires the disclosure to the public of the following personal information:

 

  • Sex offender’s name and address

  • Social security number

  • Employer’s name and address

  • If attending school, the school’s name and address

  • Vehicle license plate number and description

 

Convicted federal sex offenders, as conditions of a prison sentence, may be required to enroll in a residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) or Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP) at a Federal Medical Center operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

 

Released federal sex offenders are subject to reporting requirements prior to international travel and may have their passport revoked at any time by the Secretary of State.

 

Demand an Experienced, Successful Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer

 

If you are confronted with accusations of a sex crime, do not talk to the police or federal agents. These investigators are trained to get people to talk. They manipulate an individual’s natural instinct to defend against such accusations in order to elicit information, from which incriminating inferences can be drawn. Be smart. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the first hint of a sex crimes accusation.

 

An experienced sex crimes attorney can help you protect your rights and privacy throughout the course of the investigation, while advising you against saying or doing anything that could harm your case.