Sex offenses are complicated because there is so much that can happen outside of the courtroom. The collateral consequences or a mere accusation of a sex offense – no matter how groundless – can cripple a career or cause extreme personal friction with those closest to you.
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that the sex crime defense lawyers receive at WTB Law in Portland, Maine.
What are Common Penalties for a Sex Crime?
Just like with other criminal accusations, charges for sex crimes that turn into a conviction can come with fines and jail time. Lower-level offenses, like for indecent exposure, can also include community service, probation, and mandatory counseling. Felony-level offenses, including rape, will require registration on Maine's sex offender list and can see their voting and Second Amendment rights eroded or eliminated by the felony conviction.
Registering as a sex offender comes with a laundry list of consequences. It can keep you from associating with certain people and can make it harder to get a job or rent an apartment. While Maine's state law does not restrict where registered sex offenders can live, some towns do.
Is Intoxication a Defense to a Sex Crime Allegation?
Rarely. The vast majority of intoxication defenses are for voluntary intoxication, where you took drugs or drank alcohol of your own accord. The standards for a defense of voluntary intoxication are very high in Maine: You'd have to show that you were so intoxicated that you could not have formed an intent to commit the crime you have been accused of committing.
Worse, signs that your accuser was intoxicated can actually hurt you. If the accuser was intoxicated, it cuts against your defense that they consented to the sexual act.
Furthermore, Gross Sexual Assault doesn't require the traditional "State of Mind" as an element. Rather, the various sub-categories of Gross Sexual Assault have different elements such as "impairing the person's ability to consent with drugs or alcohol", "submission to the sexual act as a result of compulsion" and other qualifiers where voluntary intoxication is irrelevant.
Is Consent a Defense to a Sex Crime Charge?
In most cases, it can be. Maine sex crime laws tend to prohibit nonconsensual sex. Proving that your accuser actually consented to what you did – or even initiated it – can be a strong defense to an allegation of a sex crime.
However, there are times when consent is not a defense because some people are legally unable to consent to sex. Most importantly among these people are children, the mentally challenged, and people who were unconscious at the time of the alleged offense. In some cases, an accuser's intoxication can be enough to keep them from being able to consent to a sexual act.
What if Someone Underage Lied About How Old They Were?
Unlike in many other states, Maine's statutory rape law is not a strict liability crime. People accused of statutory rape or sexual assault of a minor in Maine can present evidence that it was reasonable for them to believe that the minor was over the age of consent. A crucial piece of evidence is that the minor lied about their age.
What are Mandatory Abuse Reporters?
Mandatory abuse reporters are types of people who can face legal action if they do not report signs of child abuse to the appropriate authorities. These people include therapists, psychologists, doctors, and teachers; just to name a few.
Is It a Defense to a Sex Crime Allegation that the Accuser Has an Ulterior Motive?
Yes, false prosecution is a common defense in sex crime allegations, especially when the alleged victim is your child and a divorce is currently pending. A spouse engaged in a contentious divorce can claim that their other spouse engaged in a sex crime in order to gain an advantage in the divorce proceeding and get more child custody. Showing that this ulterior motive is at play can be a strong defense against a sex crime allegation.
Can Police Coerce Someone into a Sex Crime?
No. Entrapment is a defense against an alleged sex crime that argues the police coerced or even forced someone into committing the offense, rather than allowing that person to commit the crime of their own volition.
For example, police often use undercover agents to arrest people for prostitution or underage sex crimes. If those agents lie about their age or force themselves onto someone, it can be a strong defense against a subsequent sex crime charge.
How Long Would I Have to Register as a Sex Offender?
It depends on when the offense happened and the type of conviction.
If the offense happened in 2012 or before, Maine Statute 34-A § 11203 requires people convicted of a “sex offense” to register for 10 years, while those convicted of a “sexually violent offense” have to register for life.
If the offense happened in 2013 or afterwards, Maine Statute 34-A § 11273 lays out three tiers of offenses that determine the length of registry. Those convicted of Tier I offenses have to register for 10 years. Tier II offenders have to register for 25 years. Those convicted of Tier III offense have to register on the sex offender registry for life.
Both statutes lay out what specific offenses these categories include.
How Can an Attorney Help If I've Been Accused of a Sex Crime in Portland?
An attorney can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case if you have been accused of committing a sex crime in the Portland area. As a criminal defendant, you have rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Raising them can rein in prosecutorial and police misconduct during the investigation and your trip through the justice system. Challenging the prosecutor's case and showing how their facts don't line up can scuttle their attempts to convict you and lead to an acquittal in trial or even force them to dismiss their case.
Even in the worst situations, hiring a sex crimes defense lawyer can ensure you are not treated unfairly by the prosecutor and the court.
WTB Law: Defense Lawyers for Sex Crime Allegations in Portland, Maine
The criminal defense lawyers at WTB Law strive to represent people who have been accused of sex crimes in the Portland, Maine, area. With their professional help, you can invoke your rights and fight for your interests and your future at this difficult and pivotal time in your life.
Contact them online or call their Portland law office at (207) 571-8146.