18 U.S.C. 2243 – Sexual Abuse of a Minor or Ward
The federal government prosecutes sex crimes aggressively, especially when the alleged victim is a child or under the authority of the perpetrator. While all criminal charges should be taken seriously, simply because a person is charged with a crime does not necessarily mean that the prosecution will be able to obtain a conviction. If you are accused of sexual abuse of a minor or ward, it is critical to retain an assertive attorney who will fight to help you seek a favorable outcome. The Charlotte and Concord federal sex crime lawyers at the Olsinski Law Firm can advise you about your options and potential defenses and are ready to protect your rights.Sexual Abuse of a Minor or Ward
While engaging in sexual activity with a minor is illegal under state law, in certain circumstances, it constitutes a federal crime as well. Specifically, pursuant to 18 U.S. Code section 2243(a), a person who partakes in sex acts with a child who is older than 12 but younger than 16 may be convicted of sexual abuse of a minor, if the acts take place in a facility, institution, or prison where people are held in custody pursuant to a contract with a federal agency or department. Notably, the victim must be at least four years younger than the actor for the acts to be criminal under section 2243(a). It is also a crime for a person to attempt to engage in behavior that is illegal under section 2243(a). A conviction under this provision is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and fines.
Additionally, under 18 U.S. Code section 2243(b), it is unlawful for a person who works in a federal prison or a facility or institution that detains people under a contract with the federal government to knowingly engage in sexual acts with an individual who is officially detained and under the authority of the actor. In other words, if a person is tasked with supervising or disciplining inmates in a federal penitentiary, the person can be convicted of a crime for having sex with an inmate. A violation of section 2243(b) is also punishable by up to 15 years of imprisonment.Potential Defenses to Sexual Abuse of a Minor or Ward
18 U.S. Code section 2243(c) specifically states that if a person is charged with sexual abuse of a minor in violation of section 2243(a), it is a defense that the person believed that the alleged victim was 16 or older. The person accused of the offense must prove that his or her beliefs regarding the alleged victim's age were reasonable by a preponderance of the evidence. It is also a defense to a section 2243 offense if the defendant and the alleged victim were married at the time that the crime occurred.
In addition to the statutory defenses, other defenses may be available for a charge under section 2243. For example, if the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant should not be convicted. Thus, if the evidence does not show that any sexual activity occurred between the defendant and the alleged victim, or suggests that the victim misidentified the defendant, it is unlikely that the government would be able to show that no reasonable person would harbor doubts about the defendant’s guilt, as is required to obtain a conviction.Contact a Knowledgeable Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer in Concord or Charlotte
Being charged with a federal sex crime can be a harrowing experience, but in many instances, criminal defendants can obtain positive results. If you are accused of sexual abuse of a minor or ward, the knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at the Olsinski Law Firm can inform you about your rights and help you determine how to proceed. We represent people charged with sexual abuse in Concord and Charlotte and throughout Cabarrus and Mecklenburg Counties, including people in Huntersville, Mint Hill, Matthews, Cornelius, Davidson, Midland, Pineville, Harrisburg, Kannapolis, and Mount Pleasant. You can reach us at our Charlotte office by calling 704-405-2580 or at our Concord office by calling 704-918-4747, or you can use our online form to schedule a meeting.