By definition, a sex crime is committed using threat or force to coerce someone into performing an unwanted sexual act. State governments usually prosecute these types of crimes. Should the commission of such an offense occur in two different states, it is usually the federal government that prosecutes.
Penalties are more severe if the crime is classified as a felony. Those convicted of a sex crime could face decades in prison. In extreme cases, perpetrators may be chemically castrated. Being charged with a sex crime is a grave matter, one that requires the services of a criminal defense attorney.
Sex crimes come in many forms, and many involve force or the threat of force. But some offenses are illegal, period — particularly those relating to children — even if no force was used during the commission of the offense.
Typically, force is not required to make the act a crime if the victim is not legally capable of giving consent.
Possession of child pornography, even without direct sexual contact with the victim recorded in it, is illegal. A disability may prevent a victim from consenting to a sex act. Other sex acts, even if only consenting adults participate in them, are also illegal as they stand. Prostitution, for example, is illegal in every state except Nevada.
Sexting to and among minors is one such crime. More and more teens are sending graphic sexual photos to each other by cellphone before they are of age to consent, and in worse cases, legal adults are involved. The justice system is unsure how to cope with tech-enabled pornography that can proliferate with lightening speed. There is no one category that fits sexting. Currently, the vast majority of those charged are charged with felonies under the umbrella of child pornography laws.
While existing pornography laws offer a place to start dealing with the realities of underage and nonconsensual sexting, their original intent was to control sexual predators, not immature young teens and their developing urges.
Many states are revisiting their laws to create lighter penalties for actions like sexting. Others consider that if a teen commits a crime, he or she should pay the price, regardless of age or level of indiscretion.
As technology develops in unexpected ways, sexual predators will seek ways to bend it to their needs. Each illegal action should have a fitting consequence that suits it as it changes.
Thomas C .Grajek is a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, Lakeland, and Polk County Florida. To contact a Lakeland criminal defense attorney or to learn more, visit http://www.flcrimedefense.com/ or call 863-688-4606.