Wilmington Sex Crimes Lawyer

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Sex crimes are taken very seriously by North Carolina courts. The penalties are often significant. Because of the life-altering sentence you’re potentially facing, it can be incredibly challenging to be charged with one of these crimes. In many cases, a conviction will likely involve having to register as a sex offender. It’s important to have a talented Wilmington sex crimes lawyer to defend you in such a serious situation.

We recognize how frightening being charged with a sex crime can be. At the W. James Payne Law Firm, we defend those who are affected by these serious charges. We ensure they are given every chance to avoid a conviction and the harshest possible penalties.

We are always prepared to make a strong defense in court, but if a plea deal makes more sense, we work to obtain the strongest agreement we can. When you’re faced with sex crime charges, W. James Payne’s more than 30 years of experience in criminal defense can be crucial to your case.

Sex Offenses in Wilmington

Sex crimes describe a broad range of potential criminal charges, but what they all have in common is that there is that the offense is sexual in some nature. Some of these crimes include:

  • First-Degree Forcible Rape. This involves intercourse against another person’s will and includes either the use of a dangerous weapon, serious personal injury, or being aided and abetted by one or more persons. It is charged as a Class B1 felony. (C. Gen. Stat. § 14-27.21)
  • Second-Degree Forcible Rape. This is either forced intercourse or intercourse with someone whom the accused should reasonably recognize has a mental disability, is mentally incapacitated, or is physically helpless. This is charged as a Class C Felony. (C. Gen. Stat. § 14-27.22)
  • First-Degree Forcible Sexual Offense. This is when one person forces another into a sexual act other than intercourse and includes either the use of a dangerous weapon, serious personal injury, or being aided and abetted by one or more persons. This is a Class B1 felony charge. (C. Gen. Stat. § 14-27.26)
  • Second-Degree Forcible Sexual Offense. This is when one person forces another into a sexual act other than intercourse or commits a sexual act with someone whom the accused should reasonably recognize has a mental disability, is mentally incapacitated, or is physically helpless. This is charged as a Class C Felony. (C. Gen. Stat. § 14-27.27)

There are several other statutes that address the sexual crimes someone could also be charged with, including those that address sexual acts with a minor, sexual actions taken under certain pretexts, such as medical treatment, and sexual battery. These crimes are charged at different levels, and while some are misdemeanors, the majority of offenses result in felony charges.

Penalties for Sex Crimes

Sex crimes are treated as serious crimes and are often penalized severely. The exact nature of the penalties for a sex crime conviction will differ depending on the charges, the specifics of the case, repeat offender status, and other relevant factors. However, there are a few penalties that are often included in the sentencing:

  • Prison Time. Although prison time may be avoided in some misdemeanor cases, many sex crimes are felony charges and will most likely involve a prison sentence of some length.
  • Many charges involve fines of varying amounts.
  • Following a prison sentence, or even if one is avoided, probation may be ordered.
  • Sex Offender Registration. For the majority of sex crimes, those convicted are required to register as sex offenders. For less serious offenses, they will have to remain registered for a set amount of time, but more serious offenses can result in a lifetime need to register. The registry can be accessed by the public.

Considering a Plea Deal

The majority of criminal cases never make it to trial. That’s because a plea deal is usually worked out prior to that point. While a defendant’s instinct may be to fight the charges they face, there are potential advantages to a plea deal for both sides.

From the prosecution’s side, the primary advantage is caseload management. The courts are often crowded with a number of cases, and it can be challenging to provide everyone with the speedy trial that is their right. Plea deals are an effective means of reducing the pressure on the court system.

For the accused, a plea deal means accepting guilt in exchange for penalties or charges lesser than those they would face after a guilty verdict in court. In many cases, this means pleading guilty to a lesser charge with lighter penalties or, possibly, the original charge with a particularly light sentence.

The benefit for the defendant in these cases is certainty. The penalties are understood, and they can avoid the most extreme risks posed by a trial. However, whether or not a plea deal makes sense depends on the interests and preferences of the defendant, the specific plea deal offer, and the facts of the case.

If you’re offered a plea deal, your lawyer can help you consider your options in addition to negotiating for the strongest offer possible. They can describe the risks you may face in going to trial based on the strength of your case. Whatever their advice, though, the decision will ultimately be yours.

What Does Wilmington Sex Crimes Lawyer Do?

A sex crimes lawyer performs a variety of critical functions in service of representing you, advocating for your interests, and advising you. The foundation of these efforts, however, is a thorough investigation of the circumstances around your charges and arrest.

This involves both identifying the evidence against you and looking for anything that may be helpful in your defense. Your lawyer does have the power to subpoena critical documents and information, which can often be helpful in gathering evidence for your defense.

Your case may involve the potential for a plea deal, in which case your lawyer will be responsible for negotiating on your behalf. It’s important to have a lawyer experienced in these negotiations, as they understand how to put pressure on the prosecutor to secure a better offer.

However, there are times when you may not want to take a plea deal and instead take the case to trial. If that’s the case, your lawyer is responsible for presenting your defense. This will often involve considering the evidence at the prosecution’s disposal and identifying how they may attempt to prosecute the case, as well as developing a proactive strategy.

While your lawyer will put forth the strongest case they can make for you, trials can be unpredictable, and there is no guarantee of how the jury will view the situation. If the jury does return a guilty verdict, though, your lawyer will continue to advocate for you throughout sentencing and make the case for more lenient penalties.

Registering as a Sex Offender

The majority of sexual crimes include the requirement to register as a sex offender. There are several steps involved in this process, and the registration is a matter of public record. While some may only be required to remain on the registry for a specific number of years, others who have committed more serious crimes will likely be required to remain registered for life.

Offenders must register within three days of either establishing a residence in North Carolina or their release from custody. In many cases, offenders will need to periodically verify their information with local law enforcement. They must also notify law enforcement within three days of any change in employment, address, or other registered information. If they are present in the state for 15 days, they have to register as well.

It is also illegal for sex offenders to hold jobs in which they instruct, supervise, or care for minors. Violating this law could result in a Class F felony.

Failing to comply with the requirements of the registration program is taken very seriously. In many cases, it can result in felony charges and could mean prison time.

Let a Wilmington Sex Crimes Lawyer Defend You

Sex crimes are likely to have an emotional impact on those in court. While a judge, jury, and others may try to remain impartial, the reality is that these are some of the hardest crimes to defend against. The stigma surrounding sex offenses means leniency is rarer in these cases.

Defense against these crimes requires a uniquely skilled, experienced lawyer who understands how to manage such a difficult situation. That’s why W. James Payne’s more than thirty years of experience can be so valuable to our clients. We understand what it takes to put forth a strong, persuasive defense regarding such sensitive topics.

Whether negotiating a plea deal is the right option or you are seeking an acquittal in a trial, you can benefit from having the W. James Payne Law Firm represent you and advocate for your interests. If you’re facing charges for a sex crime, contact us today. During an initial consultation, we can listen to your story and explain your options.