West Hartford Sexual Assault Lawyer

West Hartford Sexual Assault LawyerIf you are facing a criminal charge for sexual assault in West Hartford, I know you are extremely concerned about what could happen to you. The most important thing to understand is that you are innocent until proven guilty, and you are absolutely entitled to a West Hartford criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and your future.

Contact me immediately for help to discuss what I can do to defend you in court.

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What To Do If Charged With Sexual Assault in West Hartford, CT

Do not talk to the police without first speaking to me or another lawyer.

Sexual assault laws in Connecticut range from misdemeanors to serious felonies with mandatory minimum sentences and sex offender registration.  If you are charged with ANY level of sex offense, you absolutely need a competent, experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you.  These cases are seen by prosecutors and judges as serious regardless of the charge.  Therefore, not having competent counsel is simply a bad idea.

Unlike so many other criminal offenses like larcenies caught on camera and sales of controlled substances to an undercover police officer, sexual assault cases can often be successfully defended, especially if the parties involved are adults.  Sexual crimes against children are viewed by the judicial system as especially heinous and carry long mandatory sentences.  While children are competent to testify, it can be very tricky for a defense lawyer to effectively cross-examine a child witness due to the child’s lack of vocabulary.  Also, only a highly skilled defense lawyer can do this without appearing to be a bully.

How police investigate sexual assault charges and sex crimes in West Hartford

The police have become very sophisticated in their handling of child sexual abuse investigations.  They often show up unannounced at the alleged perpetrator’s home or place of employment.  They say they want to “talk” with you and ask you to follow them in your own vehicle to the police station.  This is to show that your actions were voluntary as opposed to them handcuffing you and putting you in their squad car.  One thing they’re trying to do is gauge your reactions, see if you put yourself at the crime scene, see if you’ll admit to anything, etc.  The more you talk, the more they listen and if you admit anything, it’s difficult for your attorney to suppress those statements at a trial.

Another thing to be careful of are medical professionals, psychiatrists, counselors, teachers, and any other party that is a mandated reporter in Connecticut.  Reporting crimes involving children supersedes your right to doctor-patient privilege so any time you confirm that you were involved in this behavior, even if the counselor tells you it’s confidential, it’s not.  Any professional with a license is under an obligation to report what they know, even if they told you they are not.

Sexual Assault Charges – Laws and Penalties

Sex Assault 1 is the most serious offense and carries various mandatory minimum sentences from 2 to 20 years, depending on the age of the victim, the age of the perpetrator, the degree of force used and the number of perpetrators.  Other factors include whether a weapon was used or threatened to be used, and the level of injury inflicted upon the victim(s).  It is classified as either an A or B felony. (See CGS 53a-70).

Sex assault 2 is a B or C felony and primarily prohibits sex with an underage person, a mentally or physically challenged person, or a victim in a subordinate position who may be above the age of consent.  It can carry a sentence of 1 to 15 years in prison and up to a  $15,000.00 fine.  CGS 53a-71.

Sex Assault 3 is also a felony carrying 1 to 5 years in prison unless the victim is under 16 years old which increases the sentence to 10 years.  It involves creating a fear of bodily harm to the victim and does not necessarily involve intercourse.  If a firearm is present, it can carry up to 10 years in prison.  CGS 53a-72a.

Sex assault 4 is a misdemeanor which involves sexual contact generally on the outside of the victim’s clothing.  If the victim is a minor and the perpetrator is three or more years older, it is a felony.  It will also be charged if the victim is incompetent or is in a position of reliance on the perpetrator such as a step-parent.  It will also be charged against a medical professional if the victim is a patient, or against a coach if the victim is an athlete.  CGS 53a-73a.

Persistent Offender Laws for Sex Offenses

Connecticut also applies its “persistent offender” status to sex crimes in West Harford.  This means that once a person is charged (not convicted) for the third time with a sex offense, they will face harsher penalties upon conviction.  This is true even if the defendant has avoided convictions on multiple arrests prior to their third offense.  Someone who is classified as a “persistent offender” will be a convicted felon for status purposes.

Connecticut Statutory Rape Laws

Statutory rape occurs when an adult engages in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16, or someone is more than two years older engages in sex with a person under 13.  The law does not require that the perpetrator know the age of the victim so it is a crime of strict liability.  In other words, if the older person is 18 and believes the younger person is 16 when in fact, the younger person is actually 14, the 18 year old will be charged with statutory rape.  The fact that the victim lied about his or her age is not a defense.  CGS 53a-73a

Risk of Injury to a Minor

Another common charge in Connecticut involving children under 16 is Risk of Injury to a Minor, a class D felony, or Risk of Injury to a Child, a class C felony.  This occurs when an adult puts a child under 16 in a situation where their life, limb or morals are impaired.  It can be sexual in nature, but can also involve arguing with a spouse in front of your children or smoking a cigarette in a car with a child present.  CGS 53-21

Sex Offender Registry

There are other outcomes that may happen in the case of a sexual or other crime against a child.  The Sex Offender Registry was created by the legislature in 1998.  The law requires a person convicted of a sex crime to register with the Connecticut State Police for a period of time which is controlled by statute based on the severity of the crime or crimes.  It involves communicating the defendant’s physical address on a quarterly basis with the State Police for the required period of time.  Failure to do so is a felony.  There is also a Child Abuse Registry which operates in a similar manner once it has been determined that an adult in a caretaking position or other position of authority over a child is found to have abused or neglected a child under 18.

Connecticut DCF Investigations

Sex crimes or any crimes of abuse against a child will always trigger an investigation by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.  When a crime gets reported by the police to the DCF, the actions will be swift and aggressive.  It often involves the offending party being forced to live outside the home in the case of a family situation until it is determined there is no danger to the child.  DCF will stay involved until that agency is satisfied the case is over and the minor is safe.