Perhaps one of the most devastating consequences of being convicted of a sex crime in Utah is being required to register with your local police department or sheriff’s station and put on the sex offender registry pursuant. If you are convicted of a sex crime in Utah, you will likely be required to register under the sex offender registry pursuant to Penal Code Section 290. This is a lifetime requirement. That means while living in Utah, you must register as a sex offender for the rest of your life unless and until you receive legal relief from this requirement. Being labeled a sex offender could impact your entire life. Your reputation in the community will be tarnished and you may find it difficult to find and maintain employment. You may be required to stay away from certain areas, such as schools and parks, and you could lose your professional license if you are a doctor, lawyer or other licensed professional. That is why it is so important to hire an experienced sex offender attorney to help you relieve your requirement to register and clear your name. If you face allegations of a sexual assault or another sex crime, your freedom is on the line. You likely have more questions than answers right now, wondering things like how to beat a sexual assault charge or how to beat a false rape accusation. Sex crimes charges are frightening, and a conviction will change your life forever by branding you as a sex offender. As you think about your future and begin identifying your legal options, it is important to remember one thing: It is possible to beat a sex crime charge. There are many components to a successful defense, but the following are the keys you need to consider.
• Hire An Attorney With Experience: You only get one chance to defeat these damaging charges, and you cannot afford to leave that chance in the hands of an attorney who is figuring things out as he or she goes along. We have experience taking these cases to trial and achieving the best possible outcome for people facing charges such as sexual battery, pornography possession and sexual exploitation.
• Do Not Talk About Your Case With Anyone Before You Talk To Your Attorney: You have nothing to gain by trying to go out and defend your reputation on your own, confronting accusers or even cooperating with a police investigation. Even if you have done nothing wrong, there are significant risks to speaking without counsel present.
• Do Not Wait For Charges: If your charges were a surprise, that is okay; a lawyer can help you. But if you believe you are under investigation or someone has accused you of a crime, do not wait for charges to be filed to get in touch with us. The sooner you have us working on your case, the sooner we can gather evidence, pursue a dismissal, negotiate a plea or prepare for a possible trial.
Many sex offenses fall under state jurisdictions, but several offenses are also covered by federal law. Offenses often fall into categories such as abuse, molestation, or exploitation of a minor, sexual conduct with a minor, indecent exposure or lewd acts, and sexual assault. Attempted offenses are also prosecuted. Also, failing to register as a sex offender and violating Sex Offender Registration statutes are prosecuted as sex offenses. According to the US Department of Justice, sex offenders must register if convicted of any of the following offenses:
• Having or receiving child pornography
• Falsely imprisoning a minor
• Video voyeurism of a minor
• Traveling or facilitating others’ travel when the intent of the travel is to engage in illicit conduct
• Transmitting information about a minor to further criminal sexual misconduct
• Using minors in prostitution and/or sex trafficking
• Enticing minors to engage in criminal sexual activity
• Engaging in a non-forced sexual act with a minor aged 16 or 17 years
• Producing or distributing child pornography
• Using minors in sexual performance
• A non-parent kidnapping a minor
• Sexual contact with minors under age 13
• Sexual abuse, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse of a minor, and abusive sexual contact with a minor under age 13
Sex Offender Registration and Other Legal Consequences
Convicted sex offenders face legal consequences such as jail or prison time and/or fines, depending on jurisdictional sentencing guidelines and the judge’s decision. Convicted sex offenders may also be required to register in national or jurisdictional databases. The length of time a person remains on a registry can vary by jurisdiction, crime, and sentencing requirements, and can range from a default minimum of 5 years to life. Sex offender registries make much of an offender’s personal information available to the public, though some information is prohibited from public availability. Prohibited information includes the victim’s identity, references to arrests not resulting in conviction, and the sex offender’s Social Security number and passport and immigration document numbers.
According to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), information about sex offenders that is made available to the public includes:
• The sex offender’s name and all aliases.
• The residential address(es) or other information about where the sex offender lives or will live.
• The address(es) of the sex offender’s work place(s).
• The address of place(s) where the sex offender is or will be a student.
• The license plate number and description of any vehicle owned or operated by the sex offender.
• A physical description of the sex offender.
• A current photograph of the sex offender.
• The text of the sex offense that resulted in registry as well as any other sex offense that has resulted in conviction.
Sex Offense Appeals
A person convicted of a sex crime can appeal the verdict or the sentence and have a higher court consider whether any errors occurred at trial or in sentencing that entitle the convicted person to a new trial, dismissal of the case, or a different sentence. A person, who is convicted of a crime, including a sex crime, can appeal the conviction or sentence. By filing an appeal, the convicted person asks an appellate court to review and overturn the judge or jury’s decision. A defendant who files an appeal is referred to as “the appellant” in the appeal process. An appeal is not a second trial. Appellants do not get to present witnesses and evidence and try to convince the appellate court judges that they are not guilty or should have been found not guilty. Winning an appeal on any of these grounds is an uphill battle, and most convictions are affirmed. But it is worthwhile to consult an experienced appellate attorney to review a conviction because, in some cases, errors do occur or the evidence is legally not strong enough to support the finding of guilt, and the decision is reversed. If an appellate court reverses the conviction, the appellant may get a new trial or the case may be dismissed. Sex crimes can include a broad range of criminal convictions, from very serious offenses, such as rape, sexual battery, child molestation, child pornography, and child enticement, to less serious offenses involving teen sexing, prostitution, and statutory rape. Like other criminal convictions, sex crimes can result in a jail or prison sentence, fines, and/or probation. Sex crimes also can result in lifetime mandatory sex offender registration.
Criminal Appeals Process
On appeal, defendants are limited to presenting issues that were raised at trial. That means the appellant can argue on appeal only about issues that were presented at the trial. For example, if a defendant or defendant’s counsel argued unsuccessfully at trial that a witness’s identification should not be admitted because a police officer pressured the witness to identify the defendant, then the defendant can raise the same argument on appeal and ask the appellate court to review the trial judge’s ruling on that evidence. However, a defendant cannot argue in the appeal that he should have been able to present evidence that eyewitness identifications are unreliable if he did not ask the trial judge to allow him to present that kind of evidence.
Common issues raised on appeal include
• rulings by the trial court to allow or not allow certain evidence to be presented
• rulings on other pre-trial motions
• who was allowed or not allowed to be on the jury
• the instructions given to the jury, and
• claims that the prosecutor’s arguments were inappropriate and unfair.
Even if an appellant is able to show that an error occurred at trial, the conviction will not be overturned unless the error impacts a “substantial right” of the defendant, such as the right to confront a witness who testified against the defendant. For example, even if the court finds that the prosecutor made some inappropriate remarks during closing argument that unfairly prejudiced the defendant, if there was enough evidence to prove the defendant was guilty, the verdict is not likely to be overturned. The rationale is that defendants are entitled to fair trials but not perfect trials. Lawyers call these errors “harmless errors,” because although they were mistakes, their impact was minor when compared with other, counterbalancing evidence of guilt
What if a defendant has a claim about evidence that should have been presented at trial, but was not? In that situation, a person convicted of a crime can file a “writ of habeas corpus.” A person who files a writ of habeas corpus is referred to as the “petitioner” in the habeas proceeding, which also is called a “post-conviction proceeding.” A petitioner can present many issues in the habeas proceeding that cannot be raised in an appeal, because a habeas proceeding is not limited to a review of arguments made during the trial. In fact, the main function of a habeas proceeding is to address issues that, for certain reasons were not addressed during the trial. For instance, in a habeas proceeding, a court can address new evidence that was not presented during the trial because it was not available to the defendant and defendant’s counsel or because they did not know the evidence existed. In a habeas proceeding, the petitioner files a petition for writ of habeas corpus with the trial court. If the court grants the petition, the defendant may be entitled to a new trial. If the court denies the petition, the petitioner can appeal the denial. The appeal of the habeas decision is separate from an appeal of the criminal conviction.
Common claims raised in post-conviction proceedings include:
• Juror misconduct. A petitioner might argue that he and his attorney learned after the trial that the jurors improperly conducted their own research on the evidence, which is not permitted in a criminal trial.
• Newly discovered evidence of innocence. Sometimes, new evidence (such as DNA test results) or a new witness becomes available after the trial is over.
• Failure of the prosecutor to turn over evidence of innocence. Known by the name of the appellant in a famous Supreme Court case, a Brady violation can involve witness statements or physical evidence that the prosecutor did not disclose to the defendant or the court.
• Ineffective assistance of counsel. Petitioners can argue that their lawyers’ shortcomings prevented them from having a trial that meets the requirements of due process. Such mistakes can include failing to investigate or present compelling and available evidence to the jury, or failing to prepare at all for the trial.
Sex Offender Registration
For many people, the most dire consequence of a sex crime conviction is sex offender registration. Registered offenders must make personal information, including their names, photos, and addresses, available to law enforcement agents, who may make the information available to the public, often via the Internet. Being a registered sex offender makes it difficult to find work or housing, among other things. A defendant can appeal a sentence that includes an order to register as a sex offender. To win this appeal, the defendant must show that the order to register was not required or permitted by the law governing his case. If the appeal is successful, the defendant will not have to register or can be removed from the sex offender registry if already registered.
Sealing or Expunging a Criminal Record
In many states, if you are convicted of a less serious crime and then have no arrests or criminal convictions for a number of years, you may be able to expunge (destroy) or seal (hide) your criminal record. Once your record is expunged or sealed, you can honestly answer “no” if you are asked if you have been convicted of a crime. However, whether it is possible to seal or expunge a conviction for a sex crime varies from state to state and most states have restrictions against expunging or sealing criminal records of violent sex crimes and sex crimes against children. Despite all of these restrictions, registered sex offenders are allowed to experience some freedoms. This is opposed to how their existence would be if they were still incarcerated. The difference can be very significant. For example, sex offenders allowed to:
• Work a steady job
• Attend training or licensing programs
• Pursue higher education
• Maintain relationships with friends and family
Although sex offenders may find themselves judged or ostracized by the community, they are allowed to see therapists and doctors for help. They are allowed to work on making the most of their freedom as opposed to lingering in a jail cell.
What Sex Offenders Can’t Do
The list of prohibited activities for registered sex offenders is very long and comprehensive. Sex offender registration means that a person has been deemed to be a potential danger to others. Some of the things that a registered sex offender isn’t allowed to do include:
• Live, work or commute in or near child safety zones
• Change address or employment without notifying supervision officer
• Be in possession of pornography or certain sexual materials
• Communicate with minors under age 17
• Communicate with former victims
Sex offenders are subject to all the usual restrictions of a conditional release or probation. This means that they can’t drink alcohol or use drugs, they can’t leave the county without notice and they must report any significant changes to their supervision officer. Registered sex offenders must also maintain a standard of living that is considered acceptable by the court. This means steady employment, a suitable living arrangement and enrollment in therapy.
Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506