Sex crime allegations are some of the most difficult for our clients to face, for a multitude of reasons.
Our Alabama criminal defense lawyers recognize that in addition to the harsh penalties specified under state law for sex offenses, there is also a negative stigma for those accused.
While we are all presumed innocent until proven guilty, the court of public opinion tends to hold accused sex offenders to a different standard. Even an unproven allegation can be devastating to one's livelihood and reputation.
A conviction, in addition to subjecting a defendant to substantial prison time, will result in a life-long label that could impact his or her future employment, education and personal relationships.
That's why we are dedicated to aggressively fighting these kinds of charges.
Uniform Crime Report Statistics indicated there were nearly 1,300 rapes reported in Alabama in 2012. That works out to about 3.5 rapes reported each day. That was a decrease of 10 percent over what had been reported in 2011.
If those, law enforcement reported a clearance rate of about 40 percent, meaning that is how many of the crimes were solved through a conviction. That's a higher clearance rate than what we noted for many other major crimes, including robbery, burglary, larceny theft and motor vehicle theft.
About 6 percent of those arrested for rape in 2012 were juveniles.
In 65 percent of all cases, the alleged victim knew the accused offender. More than 80 percent reportedly involved physical or verbal threats and 6 percent involved some type of weapon. Nearly 80 percent occurred inside a residence.
Penalties for sexually-motivated crimes in Alabama depend heavily on a number of factors:
- The age of the victim.
- The age of the accused.
- The extent of the alleged abuse.
Rape in the first degree is the most serious of these. It's a Class A felony, punishable by up to life in prison. Per Alabama Code 13A-6-61, a person commits first-degree rape if he or she:
Engages in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex by forcible compulsion;
- Engages in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex who is incapable of consent, either because of being physically helpless or mentally incapacitated;
- Is 16 years-old or older and engages in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex who is younger than 12.
- First-degree sodomy is defined and penalized in much the same way, except that the sexual intercourse involved is described as “deviate” and there is no provision for the victim being a member of the opposite sex.
First-degree sexual abuse, meanwhile, is sexual contact (not necessarily intercourse) that is either forced or lacks the consent of one party by reason of physical or mental incapacitation. It's a Class C felony, meaning it's punishable by up to 10 years in prison. If that sexual abuse involves a child under the age of 12 and the perpetrator is over the age of 16, it's bumped up to a Class B felony, punishable by between 2 and 20 years in prison.
Then there is sexual misconduct, which is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail. This is where consent for sexual intercourse is obtained through the use of any fraud or artifice. It could also be defined as a female engaging in sexual intercourse with a male without his consent.
Anyone with questions about prosecution of sex crimes in Alabama should seek the advice of an established criminal defense lawyer.