DC Sex Crimes Lawyer

Sex crimes in Washington, DC, can take many forms, but regardless of the offense, those who are charged with one of these misdeeds may benefit from the assistance of an experienced Washington, DC sex crimes defense lawyer.  Those who are found guilty can receive large fines and lengthy prison terms.

Sex crime suspects can be charged for offenses against total strangers, friends, significant others, family members, and spouses.  If  the victims are minors or children this could lead to child pornography charges if images of the acts are created, distributed, or possessed by others.  Many times these are federal offenses [18 U.S. Section 2252].

All DC sex crimes are charged under the general category of sexual abuse, with the specific offense, and penalty, governed by the actual charge (for example, rape, indecency with a child, or sexual contact).  The District of Columbia codifies four distinct sexual abuse felonies and one misdemeanor.

First-Degree Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse in the first degree occurs when the defendant either forces the victim into committing a sexual act involving any “organ penetration” (rape or similar violations of the victim).  The suspect can directly commit the offense against the victim or force others to engage in these sexual acts. Victims commonly suffer serious injury at some time during the commission of this crime.  Underlying felonies are often committed during the offense, such as assault (and battery), kidnapping, or the use of a weapon to seriously harm (or kill) the victim.

Those convicted of this crime can be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison and fined up to $250,000, and if the suspect committed any underlying felonies listed above, the prison sentence could be life [D.C. Criminal Code Section 22-3002 and Section 22-3020].

Second-Degree Sexual Abuse

This crime is the similar to first-degree sexual abuse, but in second-degree sexual abuse, the victims need only be threatened or placed in reasonable fear. Alternatively,  a defendant may be guilty of second-degree sexual abuse if he or she knows the victim is incapable of understanding what is happening, incapable of declining participation in the sexual act, or incapable of voicing unwillingness to engage in the sexual act.

The penalty for second-degree sexual abuse is a fine of up to $200,000 and a prison sentence of no more than 20 years making it important to contact a DC sex crimes attorney [Section 22-3003].

Third-Degree Sexual Abuse

This charge surrounds “non-penetration” sexual contact with an unwilling victim where the suspect:

  • Uses force
  • Places the victim in fear of bodily harm
  • Renders the victim unconscious, whether by giving them some sort of debilitating intoxicant, such as alcohol, Rohypnol (“roofies”), or some other “date rape drug.”

The penalty for this offense can be a fine of up to $100,000 and a maximum prison sentence of up to 10 years [Section 22-3004]

Fourth-Degree Sexual Abuse

This crime is limited to non-penetration crimes where the suspect knows that the victim is:

  • Incapable of understanding the nature or consequences of the sexual assault
  • Unable to refuse to participate in the sexual contact
  • Rendered unable to say “no” to the suspect’s attempt.

Those convicted of fourth-degree sexual abuse can be sentenced to a maximum fine of $50,000 and a prison sentence of up to five years [Section 22-3005].

Misdemeanor Sexual Abuse

Suspects are guilty of misdemeanor sexual abuse if they perform a non-penetration sexual act or have sexual contact with a victim when the perpetrator knew, or should have known, that the victim did not give his or her permission. Misdemeanor sexual abuse penalties involve a fine of up to $1,000 and a maximum of six months in jail [Section 22-3006].

Other Sex Crimes and Sex Offender Registration

Other sex crimes that may be charged against a suspect, and the retention of a Washington, DC sex crimes lawyer include the following:

  • First-degree child sexual abuse is committed when the offender is at least four years older than the minor victim. This is a class A felony with a prison sentence as high as life in prison  and a fine of up to $125,000 [Section 22-3008].
  • Second-degree sexual abuse of a minor is charged against an adult when the victim is under age 18. Conviction of this crime brings up to seven and a half years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 [Section 22-3009.02].
  • Prostitution and solicitation [Section 22-2701].

All who are convicted of a DC sex crime must register as a sex offender once they are released from incarceration.  Depending on the conviction, the amount of time they must remain in the database can range from a few years to the rest of their life.

Child Sexual Abuse and Minors

  • First Degree Child Sexual Abuse. This pertains to anyone four years older than a child engaging in a sexual act with a child or causing a child to partake in a sexual act. DC defines a child as any person under the age of 16. Penalties are felony conviction, up to life imprisonment, and up to $250,000 in fines.
  • Second Degree Child Sexual Abuse. This involves anyone who is four years older than a child (as defined above) who has sexual contact with a child or causes a child to partake in sexual contact. Penalties are felony conviction, up to 10 years in jail, and up to $100,000 in fines.
  • First Degree Sexual Abuse of a Minor. This pertains to anyone who has a “significant relationship” with a minor and partakes in a sexual act with a minor or causes a minor to partake in a sexual act. DC defines a minor as a person under 18 years of age and a person with a “significant relationship” as a family member (parent, sibling, uncle, etc.), legal guardian, responsible person (domestic partner, spouse, etc.), or a volunteer or employee of a school, church, etc. Penalties are felony conviction, up to 15 years in jail, and up to $150,000 in fines.
  • Second Degree Sexual Abuse of a Minor. This occurs if a person is in a “significant relationship” (as defined above) with a minor (see above) and sexual contact takes place between the individual and the minor. Penalties are felony conviction, up to 7-1/2 years in jail, and up to $75,000 in fines.
  • First Degree Sexual Abuse of a Secondary Education Student. This occurs if a person is an authority figure at a high school (includes as a principle, teacher, counselor, coach, etc.) and the person takes part in a sexual act with a secondary school student or causes the student to take part in a sexual act. The student must be enrolled at the institution and be under 20 years of age. Penalties are felony conviction, up to 10 years in jail, and up to a $100,000 fine.
  • Second Degree Sexual Abuse of a Secondary Student. This occurs if the person of authority (see above) has sexual contact with a secondary student (defined above) or causes a secondary student to take part in sexual contact. Penalties are felony conviction, up to five years in jail, and up to $50,000 in fines.
  • Enticing a Child or Minor. This pertains to when a person attempts to entice a child or a minor (as defined above) to have sexual contact or to perform a sexual act. The perpetrator must be at least four years older than the child or is in a significant relationship with the minor, and convinces or attempts to convince the minor/child to partake in the sexual contact or act, or takes the minor/child to a place to perform the sexual act or have the sexual contact. This also pertains if the person is four years older than a child and is pretending to be a child. Penalties are felony conviction, up to five years in jail, and up to $50,000 in fines.
  • Misdemeanor Sexual Abuse of a Child or a Minor. This is when an individual touches a child (see above) or minor (see above) inside the child’s clothing, touches a child’s genitalia (including anus, breast, or buttocks) outside or inside a minor’s/child’s clothing, putting your tongue in the mouth of a minor or child, or touching a third person’s or your own genitalia for the purpose of causing sexual gratification of any person. The individual must be 18 years old or older, and at least four years older than the child or be in a significant relationship with the child. Penalties include up to 180 days in prison and up to a $1,000 fine.

Planning or Attempting to Commit a Sex Crime

  • Arranging for a Sexual Contact with a Fictitious or Real Child. This pertains to when an individual arranges for sexual contact with a fictitious or real child. Also pertains to arranging for a separate person (must be a law enforcement officer) to perform sexual acts with the fictitious or real child.  Penalties are a felony conviction, up to five years in jail, and up to $50,000 in fines.
  • Attempts to Commit Sexual Offenses. Pertains to any person attempting to commit any of the above offenses. Penalties are: up to 15 years in jail, up to one-half of the maximum prison terms of the attempted offense, and fines up to one-half the maximum fine for the attempted offense.

Enhanced Penalties

  • Aggravated Circumstances. If an individual commits any of the above offenses, s/he may receive a sentence of 30 years to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole if the victim is less than 12 years of age; is less than 18 years of age and the perpetrator has a “significant relationship” (see above ) with the victim; the victim suffered risk of death, severe pain, unconsciousness, etc.; accomplices aid the perpetrator in the crime; the perpetrator has been convicted of two sexual offenses anywhere in the United States or its territories; and/or the perpetrator uses a gun or other deadly weapon.

Contact a DC Sex Crimes Lawyer Today

Again, the crimes that are referenced on this page are extremely serious and can result in lifelong consequences for those convicted, and even those who are simply charged with or accused of committing such acts. Penalties for such crimes often include incarceration and registration in the District of Columbia’s Sex Offender database. With so much at stake, anyone charged with one of these crimes should consult with a DC sex crimes lawyer with experience handling these kinds of cases.