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Legal Defense for Sex Crimes

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Sex crimes are now a very broad category of criminal offenses including some traditional taboos like incest and more recent entries like child pornography. Sexual behavior with an animal, derived from ancient taboos, is considered a sex crime in some jurisdictions. Publically lewd behavior like indecent exposure may be included, such as stalking behavior. There is a variety of violent crimes like sexual assault (more commonly called "rape") which are considered among the most severe sex crimes. Child sexual assault is especially severe. General pornography can be a sex crime in some jurisdictions, but is often protected by the Freedom of Speech Amendment.

Some sex crimes cases may have a civil rights aspect to them. Buggery includes a range of behaviors like anal sexuality and homosexual behavior that have emerged from the area of crime. Some of what used to be punished as sex crimes have become more medical or psychiatric matters.

Sex crimes are a very ancient kind of criminal behavior that is considered especially destructive to civilized society and is looked upon with a special level of public severity. In many cases, people accused or arrested for sex crimes, but not necessarily convicted receive non-judicial punishments that can be very damaging. Even an innocent verdict in court does not always erase the stain.

Legally, however, a person accused of a sex crime may counter the charges in a wide variety of ways. To convict someone of sexual assault, prosecution must prove that the event took place and that the sexual act was not consensual. If the defendant can demonstrate that the victim consented to the sex act, that could be a positive defense. Evidence of the use of intoxicants and other chemical means to under-cut consent are sometimes part of these trials. Victims who are minors, or those with mental defects are generally considered unable to give consent to sexual acts. The issue of consent could get quite complicated.

Claims of mental incapacity or insanity are often used as a defense in sexual abuse cases. If the defendant can demonstrate persuasively that they suffer from a mental defect that prevented them from distinguishing consent, that could be an important part of a defense that could remove criminal liability for the act.

More conventional defenses may also be applicable. The defendant may present evidence that he was not with the victim at the time of the crime, by producing proof of his location, like airline tickets or other documents, or by having strong corroborative witnesses. The defendant may claim and demonstrate that the victim did not or could not accurately identify him. DNA evidence from a rape kit or gathered at the scene can provide proof that is nearly always definitive.

Because of the emotional loading around sex crimes, many people who have been accused or even convicted of sex crimes are victims of faulty evidence and biased testimony. Recent DNA evidence has proven that innocent people have sometimes been convicted and tragically imprisoned for decades because of false testimony, mistaken identity, sloppy and over-zealous police investigations. Defendants are not infrequently the victims of bitter, jealous, emotionally blinded, mistaken, or even manipulated accusers.

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