Asheville Sexual Assault Attorney

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Any criminal accusation that involves sex can be highly emotional and confusing. Sexual assault and sexual abuse charges have come to be some of the worst a person can face, not only because of their potential punishments but also because of the long-term implications. These include difficulty obtaining employment, housing, furthering education, and holding the title of “sex offender” through state or national sex offender registries. While those responsible should be held accountable, these types of cases are not always as clear-cut as they seem.

This is no more true than in cases involving rape, where there are often only two parties involved without any witnesses to corroborate their versions of the circumstances. Unfortunately, this does not make defending these types of cases any easier. Prosecutors have a strong stance on these types of crimes because of the stigma they carry and are therefore less likely to reduce or dismiss charges. If you are facing charges of rape, or even being questioned about a possible incident, it is vital for your protection and your defense to seek the help of an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who can provide assistance.

At Doug Edwards Law, our attorneys have the answers to your questions. We take our time and thoroughly examine your case in order to build the strongest defense possible.

Types of Sex Crimes

Sexual assault and sexual abuse charges cover many different types of crimes, and North Carolina has a very strong stance against each one. The circumstances of your case will determine which type of charge you may face. Charges include:

  • Sexual Assault: Sexual assault occurs anytime there is a sexual action from one individual to another without the consent of all parties (those considered mentally disabled, inebriated individuals, and children under 18 are classified as being unable to give consent).
  • Sexual Abuse: While this, too, involves a lack of consent, the sexual activity in an abuse case is done with the intention of embarrassing, humiliating, harassing, or degrading another individual. Abuse involves the victim often feeling a significant level of fear or being physically incapable of saying no. Commonly, incidents involving two adults are known as rape or aggravated sexual assault, and incidents involving children are referred to as child molestation.
  • Sexual Battery: If a person engages in unwanted sexual contact with another individual by touching their physical body through force or manipulation, they are committing sexual battery. This differs from crimes considered rape because there is no penetration involved in a battery charge.
  • Sexual Harassment: When a person experiences unwanted or uninvited sexual advancements, comments, messages, or other sexually explicit or suggestive behaviors, then they may be experiencing sexual harassment. This crime does not necessarily involve physical contact and can take place in a number of different places, including at home, work, school, or any other place. This crime can also be committed electronically through text messaging, email, or other forms of electronic communication.
  • Statutory Rape: This occurs anytime an individual has sex with a child under the age of 12 where the perpetrator is at least 4 years older than the victim.

These charges represent some of the more serious charges that a person could face. However, additional sex crimes charges could include:

  • Child molestation
  • Child pornography
  • Child luring
  • Indecent exposure
  • Prostitution
  • Failure to register

The severity of the crime will determine how it is charged. Sexual assault and sexual abuse charges are those that involve bodily injury of some kind. Other sex crimes may be less severe because the victim did not sustain any injuries.

Each charge is serious and has a lifetime of consequences beyond time in prison or extensive fines. From the moment you are accused or charged with any of these crimes, seek the help of a criminal defense attorney.

Penalties for Sex Crimes in North Carolina

Sex crimes in North Carolina are seen as violent offenses, which means they will have some of the most severe consequences. The penalties you will face are determined by the circumstances of your crime, the charges against you, any prior convictions, and the strength of your defense. Potential prison penalties could include:

  • First-Degree Rape: Sentencing could range from 12 years in prison to life without any future possibility of parole.
  • Second-Degree Rape: Sentences could range from 3½ years to 15 years in prison.
  • First-Degree Sexual Offense: Sentencing could range from 12 years in prison to life without any future possibility of parole.
  • Second-Degree Sexual Offense: Sentences could range from 3½ years to 15 years in prison.
  • Statutory Rape of a Child by an Adult: Sentencing could be 25 years to life without any possibility of parole.
  • First-Degree Statutory Rape: Sentencing could range from 12 years in prison to life without any future possibility of parole.

In addition to these lengthy prison terms, almost every case involving a sex crime will include a mandatory registration on the sex offender registry. This will ultimately impact your ability to gain employment, find housing, and even travel.

Sex Crime Defense

Because sex crimes often occur between two individuals without any witnesses, proving a sex crime did or didn’t happen can be difficult in some circumstances because both parties will likely have different versions of what happened. Often, it means that the truth of the crime is determined by the person who has the most credible version of the incident.

However, a criminal defense attorney will review all aspects of the case to determine the best strategy. That means checking witness statements if any are available, looking at the evidence, and even examining the processes and procedures taken during the collection of such evidence. They may also interview both the accused and the victim. From there, a defense can be built around any of the following:

  • False accusations
  • Faulty witness testimony
  • Misleading witnesses during interviews
  • Mistaken identity
  • Improper lab testing or rape kit collections
  • Any bias from the prosecution, law enforcement, witness, or even the victim because of the protected characteristics of the suspect

In addition, the question of consent will be at the center of the argument in any sex crimes case. An argument may be made initially that there was consent between both parties, but a victim may deny that. However, it is also not uncommon for a victim to change their story as the trial progresses.

How a Sex Crimes Attorney Can Help

When you are charged with a sex crime, there can be an overwhelming sense of confusion in trying to understand where to begin or how to prevail. By relying on the help of a sex crimes attorney, you can get a better idea of your situation. Attorneys provide a number of resources to help, including:

  • Helping With Your Rights: Not only can an attorney explain the rights you have, but they can also provide you with constant and consistent updates on your case. This protects your most important right: the right to be informed and educated on the details of the charges you face.
  • Seeking Dismissal or Reduction of Charges: Your case may be an example of a situation in which the prosecution or law enforcement overcharges your case. After reviewing the evidence and circumstances, there may be a lack of both to prove the charges being presented. There may also be grounds to prove your innocence before the trial even begins.
  • Performing Their Own Private Investigation: An attorney can utilize their resources to conduct a private investigation. In the case of sex crimes, the alleged victim may harbor a grudge against you and be using this as a means to exact revenge. A private investigator can speak with witnesses, evaluate the crime scene, and look for additional evidence to ensure that the charges are valid.
  • Seeking a Plea Bargain: Depending on the circumstances of your case, a prosecutor may be willing to offer you a plea bargain in which you plead guilty to a lesser charge. This would allow you to avoid extensive and unnecessary prison terms. However, sex crimes are severe cases, and many prosecutors will want to take the case to trial to gain the maximum punishment. An attorney can help you argue for a plea bargain on your behalf.
  • Providing an Expert Defense: Utilizing knowledge and extensive experience, your sex crimes lawyer can build a defense that seeks to gain the best possible outcome should the case go to trial.

Sexual Abuse Attorneys in Asheville, North Carolina

The accusation of any crime can be extremely harmful and have long-lasting consequences. This is never more true than when you face the severity of a sex crime accusation. Because these charges carry so much weight, it is important that you have the right defense team on your side.

At Doug Edwards Law, our team is ready to provide the support that you need to build the right defense. We know the severity of the consequences you face and therefore give your case the attention it deserves for the best possible outcome. If you have been charged with a sex crime, call our offices today and get the help that you deserve.

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