Federal Sexual Abuse of a Minor or Ward
Anyone who has been arrested or charged with a criminal offense can attest to the fact that it is one of the most stressful and life altering events that a person can experience. The severity of the charges and the seriousness of the facts will often determine what a defendant might be facing. A person with no priors with a charge of possession of cannabis might be facing extremely minor penalties. Someone facing charges for burglary or murder on the other hand might be staring a prison sentence down the barrel. However, with the right attorney guiding your case, even the most serious criminal offense can go in the right direction.
Of the categories of criminal offenses in this country, among the most stigmatized and serious are sex offenses. People convicted of sex offenses can face serious prison time, a lifetime of sex offender registration, and difficulty living a normal life. Sex offenses can also be brought by either State or Federal authorities, which can also have an effect on how the case is handled and the potential penalties faces. Federal charges are often treated much more seriously and are prosecuted with more zealousness than similar State charges.
Federal charges are typically brought when the facts of a case involve the crossing of state borders. A drug trafficking case where the allegations involve transporting drugs over the border between Georgia and Florida would fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal government. However, in cases like sexual assault or sexual abuse, it is difficult to imagine a situation where the facts of such a crime could cross state borders. Instead, Federal courts assert jurisdiction in cases of this kind when the alleged actions occur in the Federal waters of the United States, on Federal property such as national parks and Federal buildings, and within Federal Prisons.Federal Sexual Abuse of a Minor Elements
One of the most serious sex offenses that a person can commit under Federal Law is sexual abuse of a minor or a ward. Under United States Code Chapter 18 section 2243, a defendant commits the offense of sexual abuse of a minor if he or she knowingly engages in a sexual act with another person who is in official detention and is under the custody, supervision, or disciplinary authority of the defendant. The victim of the offense must also be under the age of 15 years of age. In layman’s terms, this offense prosecutes correctional officers in Federal prisons and jails who engage in sexual activity with minors who are being supervised by them, regardless of whether the sexual activity is consensual or not.
Because the defendant in a case of sexual abuse of a minor is invariably a Federal employee, the legislature has built in defenses to the statute. First, if a defendant can establish that they reasonably believed that the victim was 16 or older, they can be found not guilty of the offense. However, though belief of age is a defense, the prosecution does not need to prove that the defendant actually knew the age of the victim or that the requisite age difference of 4 years existed. The maximum penalty a defendant can receive under this section is 15 years in prison. While a 15 year sentence is serious, it is far less than what other Federal sex offenses can typically carry. In order to avoid the serious penalties associated with Federal sex offenses, if you are charged with one, you should not hesitate to consult with a dedicated Sarasota criminal defense lawyer.Speak With Our Lawyers Now
The attorneys at Hanlon Law have the experience, dedication, and tenacity to achieve the best possible results on your case. If you’ve been charged with any State or Federal criminal offenses, don’t hesitate to consult with us today at 941.462.1789.