Being accused of any crime is a painful and difficult experience, but being charged with a sex crime can be exceptionally traumatic. All too often, defendants in these cases are deprived of the critical emotional support they need from their friends and family. The community leaps to the worst conclusions regardless of the evidence at hand, and suspects are left to face their charges feeling helpless, isolated, and alone.
At Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates, it’s our stance that every defendant deserves skilled and compassionate legal representation, regardless of the charges at hand. No matter how serious or complicated the accusations against you may be, our criminal defense lawyers are prepared to investigate the evidence, consult with experts in their fields, and guide you through your legal options and defense strategies as your case develops.
We have more than 25 years of experience representing clients throughout the Bucks County area, including but not limited to Bensalem, Doylestown, New Hope, Newtown, Perkasie, Quakertown, and Yardley, Pennsylvania. To set up a free, completely confidential legal consultation, call our Bucks County sex crimes lawyers at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania today.
Types of Sex Crimes in Pennsylvania
There are many different sex crimes a person can be charged with in the state of Pennsylvania. As your case progresses and your trial date nears, it’s very important to have a good understanding of exactly what you’re being charged with.
- Category — First Degree Felony
- Description — Rape is charged when the defendant allegedly has sexual intercourse with a victim through use of force or threatened use of force. Rape can also be charged if the victim was unconscious, impaired by drugs or alcohol, or has a mental disability which prevents him or her from giving informed consent.
- Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse
- Category — First Degree Felony
- Description — This crime is charged under circumstances similar to rape, with the key difference being that involuntary deviate sexual intercourse also includes oral sex, anal sex, and penetration by a foreign object.
- Sexual Assault
- Category — Second Degree Felony
- Description — This offense is charged when the defendant allegedly has sexual intercourse with a person other than their wife or husband, who is also under 16 years old. The victim must also be either (1) four years older but less than eight years older than the defendant, or (2) eight years older but less than 11 years older than the defendant.
- Institutional Sexual Assault
- Category — Third Degree Felony
- Description — This offense is charged when the defendant has power and authority over the alleged victim. For example, this could be charged if a corrections officer were to engage in intercourse with an inmate.
- Indecent Exposure
- Category — First Degree Misdemeanor, Second Degree Misdemeanor
- Description — This crime can be charged when the defendant allegedly exposes his or her genitals in a public place of any kind, or any place where the defendant knows people are likely to witness and be offended or alarmed by the exposure.
How Are Sexual Offenses Classified in Pennsylvania?
Unfortunately for defendants who are facing these sorts of charges, most sex crimes are classified as high-level felonies under Pennsylvania’s criminal code. While misdemeanors also come with very serious penalties including costly fines, months of jail time, and the creation of a criminal record, the penalties associated with felony convictions are even harsher.
In addition to facing decades behind bars and fines which reach well into the thousands, former felons must also battle with intensely negative stereotypes, ongoing difficulties finding a job, and obstacles to being approved for certain loans, housing, and professional certifications.
Pennsylvania courts can impose the following maximum fines and sentences for criminal convictions.
Sex Crime Misdemeanors
- Third Degree Misdemeanor
- Fine — $2,000
- Sentence — 1 year
- Second Degree Misdemeanor
- Fine — $5,000
- Sentence — 2 years
- First Degree Misdemeanor
- Fine — $10,000
- Sentence — 5 years
Sex Crime Felonies
- Third Degree Felony
- Fine — $15,000
- Sentence — 7 years
- Second Degree Felony
- Fine — $25,000
- Sentence — 10 years
- First Degree Felony
- Fine — $25,000
- Sentence — 20 years
Note that while restitution is the same for second and first degree felonies, the maximum prison term increases by a full decade.
Mandatory Registration for Sex Offenders in Bucks County, PA
Persons convicted of certain sexual offenses in the state of Pennsylvania are required to register as a sex offender with their local police department. Depending on the severity of your sex crime, your information may be listed on a website for the public to view. Information on the site includes your picture, name, address, license plate number of any vehicle you own, and the offense that triggered your registration. The local police department may also be required to notify nearby residents when you move into a new neighborhood. For many offenses, you must continue to register even if you move to a new state. Failure to properly register can be charged as a separate criminal offense.
Stages of a Sex Crimes Case in Bucks County, PA
Below, our skilled attorneys at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates walk you through the major stages of a sex crimes case in Bucks County, PA and how we can help you at each one.
Sometimes, if a police officer personally witnesses you commit some sort of sex crime or otherwise has probable cause to believe that you did so, the officer will arrest you on the spot. More often, the sex crime will be reported to the police and then some sort of investigation will be conducted into what occurred. This investigation may include gathering physical evidence and interviewing witnesses. The police may even ask to interview you, saying that you are not a suspect and they just want your perspective. Even if you have nothing to hide, you should never speak to the police without a skilled attorney like those at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates present, as they could twist your words and potentially use them against you at a later point.
Once the police believe they have enough evidence to arrest you, they will apply for a warrant with a judge. If the judge grants the warrant, the police will come to your home, place of work, or wherever you are right away to execute the warrant and place you under arrest. After your arrest, you will be transported to the local police station for what is known and the booking process, where you will be fingerprinted and photographed and the officers will collect your biographical information. Then, you will be kept in the station’s holding cell or taken to the local jail until your initial appearance and bail hearing.
Initial Appearance and Bail Hearing
Within 72 hours of your arrest and booking, but usually sooner, your initial appearance will be held. At your initial appearance, the charges against you will be read and the judge will explain your rights during the case against you. Later on, there will be a formal arraignment where you will enter your official plea of guilty or not guilty. Our skilled criminal arraignment lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates will usually advise you to enter an initial not guilty plea while we assess the strength of the case against you and try to work out a potential plea deal with the prosecutor.
At the bail hearing, the magistrate will decide whether you can be released on your own recognizance, or without bail, if bail should be set, or if you must be held in jail until the underlying criminal matter is resolved. Typically, bail will not be withheld entirely except for in cases involving very serious charges like rape. The magistrate will make this decision based on the bail guidelines, as well as such factors as your criminal history, potential flight risk, ties to the community, and the nature and severity of the crime alleged. Our experienced Bucks County, PA bail hearing attorneys at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates know how to make the most persuasive arguments for you to be released on little to no bail.
After the bail hearing and arraignments have passed, your lawyer will request any outstanding evidence that the prosecutor has yet to provide and file any necessary motions such as a motion to exclude evidence obtained as a result of an illegal search and seizure. At the same time, we will begin speaking with the prosecutor about the possibility of a deal where your charges are downgraded or dismissed. If you do not have an extensive criminal history, we may be able to convince the prosecutor to let you into what is known as a pre-trial diversion program where your charges will be dropped if you complete the program successfully. However, this is often not on the table for sex crimes unless it is something very minor.
Instead, we may be able to work out a different deal with the prosecutor. One possibility is the prosecutor agreeing to downgrade the charges to something less serious, such as from a felony to a misdemeanor, in exchange for you entering a guilty plea and saving the state the time and cost of putting on a trial. Another possibility is the prosecutor agreeing to recommend a lenient sentence to the judge if you plead guilty. The judge will almost always honor such an agreement and sentence you accordingly.
Of course, if you do not wish to take a deal or are not satisfied with the deal offered, our skilled trial attorneys at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates are always and ready to mount an aggressive offense and fight for a not guilty verdict. As noted above, you will typically have the choice to have a trial by jury, where the jury must reach a unanimous decision to convict you. You will also have the option of a bench trial before a judge, however. You and your attorney will discuss whether this may give you a better chance at a not guilty verdict depending on the particulars of your case.
If you are found guilty, there will be a sentencing hearing where the judge decides what penalties to impose. Some sex crimes have mandatory minimum or maximum sentence, while other allow the judge more discretion in making a sentencing decision. Our lawyers will work to introduce mitigating factors and work to get the judge to impose the most lenient sentence possible.
Will I Have to Join the Sex Offender Registry?
Most persons convicted of a sex crime will be required to join the Pennsylvania Sex Offender Registry, which can be searched and viewed by anybody who has internet access. That includes your employers, your coworkers, your neighbors, and your friends and family members. Posted sex offender information includes each registrant’s height, weight, age, offense, address, vehicle data, and photographs.
People convicted of Tier I offenses must register for a period of at least 15 years. Tier I offenses include:
- Indecent Assault
- Institutional Sexual Assault (Adult Victim)
- Luring a Child (Motor Vehicle, Structure)
- Possession of Child Pornography
People convicted of Tier II offenses must register for a period of at least 25 years. Tier II offenses include:
- Institutional Sexual Assault (Victim Aged 16-17)
- Production/Distribution of Child Pornography
- Unlawful Contact with a Minor
People convicted of a Tier III offense must register for life. Tier III offenses include:
- Institutional Sexual Assault (Victim Under 16)
- Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse
- Sexual Assault
Our Bucks County, PA Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers Can Help
If you’ve been arrested for a sex crime in Bucks County, our criminal defense attorneys can help. To arrange for a free and private case evaluation, call the law offices of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania.