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Prosecution of Sex Crimes in Virginia

It is extremely important for those charged with sex-related offenses in Virginia to understand the role of the prosecutor. A Virginia sex crimes lawyer can advocate on your behalf and liaise between you and the prosecutor to ensure that your rights are being protected.

The Government’s Decision on Whether to File Misdemeanor or Felony Charges

The government’s decision on whether to charge you with a misdemeanor or felony is based on the facts of the offense. Law enforcement is generally going to charge the most serious charge that they have probable cause to charge. It depends on what the conduct is, what is the intent of the accused or the alleged intent and then the age of the victim.  These facts will determine how the sexual offense will be charged.  How the charge ends up getting resolved in court is a different story.

Long-Term Implications of a Sex Crime Charge

The most serious implications involve the felony offenses—are generally going to require registration on the sex offender registry which a person can be placed on for life. The registry can preclude someone from being able to have employment that involves minors.  That obviously includes teaching positions. The type of charge and the severity of the charge will dictate the reporting requirements.

People on the registry must report where they live, and certain convictions will also require that a person not be in proximity with any minors. The statutes vary on the distance but that will affect a person’s ability to get housing if they are unable to be within 500 yards or 500 feet of a minor.  If so, then they are probably not going to be able to live in certain places and in certain urban areas.

Additionally, with the more serious sex offenders, they will be on probation for an extended period of time and everything that they do will be monitored. This could include mandatory treatment, polygraphing, computer monitoring on their home computer, or required reporting on a weekly or daily or monthly basis depending on the degree of supervision from the office of probation.  There are very serious implications associated with sex offense convictions.

Required Proof in a Sex Offense Case

The required proof in a sex offense case will depend on the elements of the offense. They have to prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt, so first you must examine what the alleged conduct is charged in the indictment and analyze whether this can be proven with admissible evidence.  Then, you must examine what is the criminal intent associated with the charge and whether that can be proven as well.  Finally, the age of the victim will be important, but usually that is easy for the state to prove.

Government’s Proof

Usually, an investigation begins with a report. Often, the report either comes from the complaining witness sometime after the commission of the offense or it comes from a 9-1-1 call, in which the police are immediately called to the scene to start an investigation.

Thus, in rape cases, the victim  will be examined and evaluated by a sexual assault nurse examiner and that is done at the hospital where there is a comprehensive physical exam that is geared toward collecting evidence and documenting injuries.  The nurse is trained to collect physical samples from the complaining witness.  These physical samples are sent to the crime lab to see if a DNA match can be made and to determine the identity of the perpetrator. This is the very basic explanation of what is done forensically.

Also, interviews will be conducted.  Law enforcement will interview the complaining witness, other witnesses, and if they have the suspect or the accused they interview them as well.  The accused’s statements are evidence that will be used in court.

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