What Is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse involves an illegal sexual act under 18 USC § 2242. The first requirement for a charge to be federal is jurisdiction. For a sexual act to fall under federal jurisdiction, it must occur within a special maritime territory, federal territory, or within a federal facility or one run by the federal government. This includes prisons and other federal institutions.
An individual can be guilty of federal sexual abuse under 18 USC § 2242 if they:
- make someone perform a sexual act by threatening or scaring them (except by threatening or scaring them that someone else will be hurt);
- have sex with someone who is not able to understand what is happening, or physically unable to stop the act; or
- have sex with someone without their consent, including doing so through force; or attempt to commit any of the acts listed above.
Sexual abuse charges are extremely serious crimes, and it is important to have experienced counsel on your side. If you are being investigated for federal sexual abuse, it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney immediately.
What Are the Different Types of Federal Sexual Abuse?
There are several different types of sexual abuse that are prohibited by federal law. These types of abuse are listed under Chapter 109A of Title 18 of the US Code. The different types of federal sexual abuse listed there include:
18 USC § 2241 – Aggravated sexual abuse
18 USC § 2242 – Sexual abuse
18 USC § 2243 – Sexual abuse of a minor, ward, or an individual in federal custody
10 USC § 2244 – Abusive sexual contact
10 USC § 2245 – Offenses resulting in death
If state lines are crossed in the commission of any type of sexual abuse, then federal charges can result. Any acts to prevent an individual from being able to consent to sexual activity can result in criminal sexual abuse and conduct charges. These criminal acts include force, any threats of force, drugs, or other intoxicants that can incapacitate an individual's ability to consent to sexual activity.
What Are the Potential Penalties for Federal Sexual Abuse?
A conviction for any of the sexual abuse offenses listed above results in up to a life term in prison. Convictions for abusive sexual contact under 18 USC § 2244 are punished less severely. If sexual contact is alleged to have occurred instead of sexual abuse, then punishments for a conviction can range from 2 years in prison to 10 years in prison, depending on the nature of the offense. Under 18 USC § 2248, violators of federal sexual abuse and contact laws are required to pay their victims restitution in addition to any punishment rendered. Restitution can be ordered to cover medical services, mental health services, lost income, or other losses suffered by the victim that were a proximate result of a federal criminal sexual act. There is no limit on the amount of restitution that can be ordered.
What Are Some Common Defenses Against a Sexual Abuse Charge?
To obtain a conviction for sexual abuse, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed an illegal sexual act that falls under federal jurisdiction and enforcement. There are several defenses that may be available to you, including:
- False accusation – If you are being falsely accused of sexual abuse, then you can show evidence to demonstrate that you are not the perpetrator.
- Lack of evidence – If there is a lack of evidence to connect you to the alleged criminal sexual abuse, then this can be used as a defense at trial. If there is a lack of DNA evidence or eyewitnesses in your case, then these can be argued to the jury.
- Constitutional violations – If the police violate your rights against unreasonable searches or improper questions, then you can file a motion to have the evidence they found suppressed.
If you are charged with a crime, then speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to find the best defense for your case. The type of defense you need will depend on the facts of your case.
In What Court Will Your Case Be Heard?
If you are accused of a federal crime in New Jersey, then your case will be processed in the federal court with proper jurisdiction. There is one federal district in New Jersey and three court sites. If you oppose a decision made by a federal district court judge, then you can file an appeal with the appropriate appellate court. In New Jersey District Court, appeals must go to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The only higher court than that is the United States Supreme Court. However, the United States Supreme Court is not required to hear your case and may choose not to if you request an appeal.
How Hiring an Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you are charged with a federal crime, it is important to have an attorney who knows how to defend people in federal court. This person can help you understand the case against you and explain your options. They can also negotiate a resolution for you if that is what you want. Remember, it is always your choice whether to accept a plea, but your attorney can advise you on what they believe to be the best option. Contact us today for help!
Why Hiring Lento Law Is the Right Choice
If you are being prosecuted federally for sexual abuse, then make sure that you speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped people defend countless criminal charges in several jurisdictions. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring Lento Law is the right choice for you.