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Sex Crimes

Sex crimes carry some of the most severe penalties in the United States justice system and those of the individual states. Although most statistics don’t break down sexual offenses, sex crimes in both the federal and state systems carry an average sentence of six to seven years in prison, with rape carrying even more severe penalties.

Many sex crimes require offender registration, and that information is made available to the public on the Internet and through local police departments.

Those convicted of certain sex offenses are required to update registration quarterly for the remainder of their lives.

If you are facing sex crime-related charges, a criminal defense attorney may be able to explain the charges and possible penalties you face. Connect with a local defense lawyer today by filling out our free online evaluation form on this page or by calling 877-445-1059 today.


Rape / Sexual Assault

Rape ‒ now legally referred to as sexual assault in many states ‒ refers to forcible sexual intercourse with another person. In some states, the statutes are more broadly written to include other forcible sexual acts.

Some kinds of rape / sexual assault do not require physical force at all. For instance, the threat of violence may suffice, particularly if there is a weapon involved.

Rape / sexual assault may also occur without any force or coercion if the victim is legally unable to give consent. This can occur if the victim is unconscious, suffers from a mental defect that makes consent impossible, or is not old enough under the statutes of that state to offer valid consent.

Drugging the victim to impair judgment/resistance is sufficient, and in many states even voluntary intoxication on the part of the victim may render consent invalid.

Rape carries serious penalties, and those penalties can be enhanced under a variety of circumstances. The average sentence for rape across the states is between 8 and 9 years.

Statutes in some states limit “good behavior” credit for these offenses and require a high percentage of the sentence to be served before the offender is eligible for parole.

Sentences for rape / sexual assault tend to be in the same range as those for crimes like robbery, extortion, racketeering, and major drug crimes, and carry far heavier sentences than crimes like burglary and manslaughter.

In fact, under certain circumstances a rape conviction may result in a life sentence.

Indecent Exposure / Public Indecency

Statutory elements of indecent exposure or public indecency vary from state to state. In most states, display of the genitals in a public place is sufficient to establish indecent exposure, although some states require that the display be motivated by the desire for sexual gratification.

In many states, actual nudity is not required, and any lewd conduct in public may constitute public indecency. For instance, sexual contact with another person where one can reasonably expect to be seen by others, fondling of breasts or genitals even if fully clothed, or exposes certain specified other body parts such as buttocks or breasts.

In most cases, indecent exposure is a misdemeanor, which means that it generally carries less than one year in jail as the maximum sentence.

However, the consequences of an indecent exposure conviction may be much more far-reaching ‒ not only is there a stigma attached to the conviction, which may have to be revealed in future employment applications, but some indecent exposure convictions may trigger sex offender registration requirements and public notice.

A conviction for indecent exposure in most states requires a showing that the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that others would witness the behavior and be upset or alarmed by it.

Prostitution / Solicitation to Prostitution / Pimping & Pandering

Although prostitution in its most basic form ‒ the exchange of sexual activity for money or other value ‒ is a misdemeanor in most states, prostitution and related offenses may require sex offender registration in some states.

In addition, aggravating factors like prior convictions may make prostitution a felony.

Related crimes like pimping and pandering (the act of soliciting customers for prostitutes or prostitutes for customers) may carry more serious penalties, particularly when force or coercion is involved or a minor is involved.

In some states, the statutes prohibiting solicitation or pandering are so strict that even directing a person to a place where he can obtain the services of a prostitute may constitute a crime.

At one time, prostitutes themselves made up the bulk of prosecutions under these statutes, but in recent years many states have recognized the futility of focusing on the prostitutes themselves and stepped up efforts to prosecute the men who procure their services.

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The Bottom Line

Sex crimes can carry very significant criminal penalties, and even those that carry relatively short jail sentences can result in lifelong registration requirements, public notice, employment restrictions and many other problems.

If you’ve been accused of a sex crime, it’s critical that you understand all of the risks involved before taking any action. You may not have the knowledge and experience necessary to take the steps required to protect yourself and your future.

Before you make any decisions, fill out a free online evaluation form or call 877-445-1059 to arrange a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney in your area. Don’t gamble with your future ‒ make sure that you have complete information now.

The above summary of sex crimes is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest information on sex crimes and penalties, speak to a criminal defense attorney in your area.


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