Board Certified, Sexual Offense Attorney
Sexual Offense Laws – An Overview
North Carolina’s sex offenses start at their most serious – Forcible Rape, a Class B1 felony – and decline in seriousness all the way to Sexual Battery, a Class A1 Misdemeanor.
Federal sex offenses can involve the transportation of adults or minors across state lines for sexually improper purposes, including prostitution (the Mann Act) and child pornography offenses.
In addition to a prison sentence, or a probationary period, mandatory “sex offender registration” is required under G.S. 14-208.6(5) and under United States’ SORNA act.
These laws require that anyone convicted of a “sexually violent offense” be required to register with the sheriff or the county where the person resides for at least a period of 30 years. In certain cases, the registration period may be cut short at 10 years.
In addition, the law prohibits someone registered as a “sex offender” from “knowingly residing” within 1,000 of a school. This is just one of the many restrictions in North Carolina’s sex registry program.
In cases where sex offender registry is optional or in which the kind of registry imposed – e.g., whether Satellite Based Monitoring must be imposed – varies, a judge may order the offender to be given a Static 99 evaluation.
A Static 99 evaluation requires the person to answer various questions about his criminal background, family and social life, nature of the crime, living arrangements and employment history to rate the person on a scale. The worse the rating, the more likely the judge will require the person to have SBM, which will strictly limit his movements.
First Degree Forcible Rape (N.C.G.S. 14-27.2)
A person has committed rape in the first degree if the person has engaged in “vaginal intercourse” either with a victim who is under the age of 13 years OR with a victim “by force and against the will of the other person” and “employs a dangerous weapon” or “inflicts serious personal injury upon the victim” or commits the offense while being aided by one or more other persons.
First Degree Forcible Rape, in other words, is the rape of a child OR the rape of another person with force, serious injury, or with the help of another person.
First Degree Rape is punishable as a Class B1 Felony, which means that, if convicted, the defendant can be sentenced to a maximum of life in prison.
Often the crime is termed “Rape of a Child” when it involves a victim under the age of 13. In those cases, the state does not need to show any sort of force or threat of force.
This is a “strict liability” crime with regard to child rape, meaning that it does not matter whether the defendant knew of the child’s age, was lied to by the child about the child’s age, or was mistaken about the child’s age. So long as the child was under 13 at the time of the sexual act, the defendant would be guilty of rape of a child.
Second, as with any of the rape crimes in North Carolina, it does not matter whether the defendant fully penetrated the victim. So long as the defendant made contact with the victim’s sexual organ, that is usually enough to show intercourse.
Third, the serious injury does not need to be physical. If the state can show a mental injury that extends for some time after the sexual act, that may be enough to show serious personal injury. Hysteria and crying for only a relatively short period of time would not be enough to show serious personal injury. But nightmares, headaches, loss of appetite over a period of months, probably would be enough to show serious personal injury.
Finally, First Degree Sexual Offense is basically the same crime as First Degree Forcible Rape, except that the sexual act in “Rape” is vaginal, and the sexual act in “Sexual Offense” involves some other sexual act.
Second Degree Rape (N.C.G.S. 14-27.3)
Second Degree Rape is different from First Degree Forcible rape in that the state does not need to prove that the victim suffered serious personal injury, or that the attacker was aided by other people. Second Degree Forcible Rape is a lesser crime, and also applies in cases where the victim was mentally disabled, or physically helpless at the time of the rape.
Second Degree Forcible Sexual Offense involves sexual acts that do not include vaginal penetration.
These crimes are both Class C Felonies, punishable by up to 261 months in prison.
First Degree Statutory Rape (N.C.G.S. 14-27.2(a)(1)) and First Degree Statutory Sexual Offense (N.C.G.S. 14-27.4(a)(1))
These two crimes involve either vaginal intercourse (rape) or other sexual acts (sexual offense) where the victim is under the age of 13 years, is at least 4 years younger than the defendant, and the defendant is at least 12 years old. In this case, the state does not need to prove lack of consent. In fact, even if the defendant shows that the victim was a willing participant in the sexual acts, the state, provided it has proven the other elements, has shown that First Degree Statutory Rape has occurred.
This is a Class B1 Felony, punishable by up to life without parole. If the victim is 13, 14, or 15 years old and the defendant is more than 6 years older than the victim, then the crime is also a B1 felony. But if the victim is 13, 14, or 15 years old and the defendant is more than 4 years, but less than 6 years older than the victim, it is a Class C Felony. As a Class C felony, the crime is punishable with a prison sentence of up to 261 months.
Sexual Activity by… a Substitute Parent or Custodian
A person who is in the position of being a parent, and has sex or a sexual act with a person in the home under 18 is guilty of a Class E Felony, punishable up to 98 months in prison. In the case of a custodian, the defendant might be a prison guard, a police officer, or even a nurse having sex with a patient in a hospital.
As with statutory rape, consent is no defense. Even if the victim willingly engaged in sexual activity with the adult, the adult will still be prosecuted under this law.
Taking Indecent Liberties with a Child
A person guilty of taking indecent liberties with a child is at least 16 years old and, with the purpose of arousing or gratifying a sexual desire, takes or attempts to take an “indecent liberty” with or commits a “lewd or lascivious act” upon the body of a child under the age of 16 years old. In this case, the child must be at least 5 years younger than the defendant.
Indecent Liberties is a Class F felony carrying a maximum of 59 months in prison.
An indecent liberty may occur even if the defendant does not touch a child: for instance, if the defendant masturbates in the child’s presence or photographs the child nude in a sexually suggestive position.
Note that if the defendant is less than 16 years old and commits an indecent liberty with another child who is at least three years younger than the defendant, the crime is a Class 1 misdemeanor.The accusation that you may have committed a sex offense is the most serious in criminal law. The punishments include prison time, oftentimes mandatory sex offender registration, the loss of employment, and more.
Federal Sex Offense Laws
In addition to state criminal laws, illicit sexual conduct may include violations of federal law. Sometimes a prosecution punishable under state law may be adopted by federal authorities who may conduct a subsequent prosecution.
It is important that you choose a lawyer who is experienced in both state and federal law so that your defense in both jurisdictions, if necessary, will be consistent and effective.
Federal sex offense laws can include the transportation of minors across state lines for purposes of illicit sexual gratification, or the use of interstate means of communication to transmit sexually explicit and illegal material.
A commonly enforced federal statute – 18 USC 2252 – punishes the distribution, receipt, or manufacture of illicit child pornography even though that pornography may not have been transported across state lines.
Federal authorities regularly monitor chat rooms, message boards, and peer-to-peer networks to detect the distribution of this material.
They have been known to set up what are known as “honey pot” websites where child pornography is shared along with unique file trackers designed to notify authorities when material has been downloaded and subsequently shared.
In addition, federal agents and local police operating as part of federal task forces will sometimes pose as children in chat rooms where they strike up conversations with people who can ultimately be ensnared in criminal activities.
We defend people accused of:
• Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (First, Second, and Third Degrees)
• Federal Distribution, Receipt, and Manufacture of Child Pornography
• Sexual Offense, Rape, Statutory Rape (First and Second Degrees)
• Indecent Liberties with a Minor
• Sexual Misconduct by a Parent, Teacher, or other person in authority
• Sexual Battery
• Child Abuse (Felony and Misdemeanor)
• Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor
• Indecent Exposure
• Human Trafficking
• Violations of the Sex Offender Registry
• Adam Walsh Act Commitment Proceedings
• Petitions for Removal from the Sex Offender Registry
• Appellate and Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Review, and federal 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2255 Complaints
• Civil Forfeiture
Call Now: (919) 352-9411
Your ability to remain free and productive depends on your ability to avoid charges, if possible, defend charges at trial, if necessary, and prevent lengthy and punitive outcomes.
Bring all important documents, and any family who wish to attended, to the initial meeting, including any search warrants that were left with you, any arrest warrants or charge documents, and any questions you have regarding your case and the next steps in the process.
We will talk to you about the steps you can take immediately to prepare yourself and your case. We will work with you to develop a strategy to avoid the worst, reduce your liability, get therapeutic treatment, if necessary, and defend against these charges.
We have been here many times before. We can guide you to a successful resolution of your case.
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“I cannot possibly express my gratitude to the Chetson Firm in their care of my case. Mr. Chetson has exceeded my expectations.”
“From the very minute I emailed Mr. Chetson at 9:38pm on a Saturday Night to his reply back to me at 9:48pm asking me to call him NOW I have felt secure and trusting in Mr. Chetson.”
Sex-Related Case Results
Child Pornography Investigation
Department of Homeland Security agents and state officers raided 23-year old’s apartment after tracking software detected large amounts of child pornography. Before hiring the Chetson Firm, client admitted to conduct. We arranged for client to cooperate with authorities in apprehending manufacturers of the illegal pornography; arrest avoided, and no prosecution.
Multiple Rape Counts
Client was arrested and confessed to sexually assaulting niece during multiple visits to his brother’s home. Client’s conduct spanned two counties, and multiple different acts occurring over a more than two year period. After extensive negotiations, including the use of a forensic psychologist, client sentenced to one term with quick release. Seven counts dismissed.
Wake County Teacher Sex with Student
Parents accused Wake County distinguished and beloved school teacher with an on-going sexual relationship with underage student he was tutoring. After retaining The Chetson Firm, client resigned post and was never charged in spite of the school district efforts to prosecute.
Child Pornography and Solicitation of a Minor
Client downloaded pornography through peer-to-peer sharing networks and engaged in graphic conversations with an “aunt” offering to allow client to have sex with her minor child. Law enforcement attached tracking device to client’s car to track movements. Charges never filed.
Rape Charge Reduced to Misdemeanor
High School student had sex with underage girl who was later found lying in a ditch after having consumed too much alcohol. Client confessed, not know that the offense was statutory rape with a decades long sentence. We negotiated a misdemeanor result.
Statutory Rape Case Reduced
35-year-old Client engaged in a two year “relationship” with a girl starting at age 12. Multiple incidents of sex could have resulted in an effective life-sentence. Negotiated a 6 year sentence, with no conviction to rape.
Child Pornography Case Never Prosecuted
Returning Iraq War veteran was confronted one evening by police who accused him of trafficking in child pornography. After we showed police that the Wi-Fi network used by our client was not secure, and that anyone could have used the network, police declined to prosecute the case.
Rape Case Dismissed
Client accused and admitted to having sex with his underage cousin. Even after DNA was returned that showed client’s DNA on a rag the girl turned over to police, we were able to negotiate a purely probationary sentence.
Plea Deal Avoids 12 Month Prison Sentence
The Chetson Firm represented a client that was charged with Larceny, which could have meant 12 months in prison. Mr. Chetson negotiated a plea resulting in a purely probationary sentence. In addition, Mr. Chetson was able to secure unsupervised probation upon payment of restitution, which resulted in no special conditions of probation.
Father Molested Daughter, Misdemeanor
Client admitted to police and ex-wife that he inappropriately touched their 14 year old daughter. After submitting the client to extensive therapy and psychological testing, prosecutor reduced the charge to a misdemeanor and client avoided sex offender registry.
CPS Allegations Refuted
After presenting evidence to Child Protective Services that daughter’s allegations of sexual abuse were motivated by a bitter divorce, CPS declined to move forward with termination of parental rights.
Negotiation With Police to Avoid Embezzlement Charges
A client was accused of embezzling more than $25,000 in cash from his employer. After heeding Mr. Chetson’s advice, the client politely declined to speak with police, and Mr. Chetson took over negotiations. No charges were ever filed.
Foster Child’s Accusations Refuted
Foster child accused father of molestation. We showed that foster child had an extensive history of false accusations, and past abuse that caused CPS and prosecutors to close the investigation with no further action.
Child Pornography Case Closed, No Charges
We intervened early after client hired us to help with a investigation by a local police department into questionable online activity. We were able to convince police that the single act was inadvertent, and not indicative of repeated predatory behavior. All computer equipment was returned.