Federal Criminal Defense - Aggravated Sexual Abuse – Pennsylvania Eastern and Middle Districts

Although any type of federal crime is a serious matter, charges for federal aggravated sexual abuse are extremely serious. If convicted, you could face life in prison and may have to pay substantial fines. You will also have to register as a sex offender. Just being charged with the crime can affect your reputation, and a conviction will affect where you can live and work and many other aspects of your life.

If you have been arrested and charged with federal aggravated sexual abuse, you should consult with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney right away. You need to understand the charges against you so that you are fully prepared, and you need an attorney who can advise you of your options, assert your rights, and help you obtain the best possible outcome.

What Is Federal Aggravated Sexual Abuse?

Chapter 109A of Title 18 of the United States Code specifically deals with sexual abuse. Section 2241 states that someone can be charged with federal aggravated sexual abuse if they cause “another person to engage in a sexual act” by doing any of the following:

  • Using force against the person
  • Making threats against the person so that they feel like their life or safety is at risk or that they will be kidnapped

The law also specifies it's an offense to make someone fear that “any person” may be placed in danger, not just themselves. This means, for instance, that a perpetrator could threaten someone's children, spouse, or other loved one in order to force the victim to engage in sexual acts.

Along with physical force and threats, you can commit aggravated sexual abuse under federal law if you:

  • Render the person unconscious.
  • Administer to them, through force, threat, or without their knowledge or permission, any kind of drug, intoxicant, or similar substance to make that person unconscious, or to make them incapable of understanding their situation or resisting the conduct.

The law also states that you can face charges if you even attempt any of these offenses. Therefore, you can be charged with attempted aggravated sexual abuse even if no actual sex act occurred.

The law applies to all people in any “special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States,” including those incarcerated in federal prisons.

Federal Aggravated Sexual Abuse Involving Children

Although victims of aggravated sexual abuse can be any age, federal law makes specific provisions for offenses involving children, and it prohibits the following:

  • Knowingly crossing a state line to intentionally engage in sex with someone under the age of 12
  • Engaging in sex with someone under 12 in a special maritime or territorial jurisdiction of the U.S. or federal prison

The law also includes a provision regarding age differences between the parties involved. This applies to persons older than 12 but not yet 16, where the other party is four or more years older than the child. The government does not have to prove the defendant knew the other person was under 12.

Penalties for Federal Aggravated Sexual Abuse

The maximum penalty for a conviction of federal aggravated sexual abuse is life in prison. The law also mandates a minimum prison sentence of 30 years if the offenses involved children. Those with prior state or federal convictions for sexual abuse will most likely receive a life sentence.

In addition, if you are convicted, you will have to pay substantial fines, along with mandatory restitution and other associated costs. You will also have to register as a sex offender.

Sex Offender Registration

Under the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), a person convicted of sex crimes must register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction where they live, work, or go to school. As a result of several tragedies involving children and convicted sex offenders, the government has made many stipulations to the sex registration requirements for those convicted of sex crimes against children.

For example, the government requires states to make publicly available information regarding people convicted of sexual offenses against minors. Also, a person convicted of sex crimes against children must inform local law enforcement of any changes to their address or employment within a certain time or when released from prison or a psychiatric facility. Failure to do so can result in a felony charge.

The law also creates a three-tier classification of sex offenders based on their potential danger to the community. The federal government has a national sex offender registry website, and all states, including Pennsylvania, have sex offender websites available to the public that anyone can search.

Pennsylvania Sex Offender Registry

Pennsylvania has its own laws regarding aggravated sexual abuse, and the state can investigate, charge, and convict a person of aggravated sexual abuse alongside the federal government if the offense occurred in the state. Pennsylvania refers to the offense as “aggravated indecent assault,” which Title 18 Section 3125 defines as the penetration of the genitals or anus of a person for any purpose other than a legitimate medical, hygienic, or law enforcement reason.

Upon conviction, a person will have to register as a sex offender in Pennsylvania. The law also applies to those convicted of these crimes in another state or federal court if they are a resident of Pennsylvania or a student or employee in the state. Depending on the nature of the offense, sentences can range from 10 to 20 years in prison, or more, and up to $25,000 in fines.

Get the Experienced Defense Counsel You Need

The federal government investigates sex crimes thoroughly and prosecutes them aggressively. Since they must obtain a grand jury indictment before officially charging you, they have already gathered substantial evidence against you. However, a charge does not mean a conviction.

You have every right to defend yourself against the charges, and you need an experienced lawyer who can help you devise an effective defense.

Our Criminal Law Team has many years of experience representing clients in Pennsylvania who are facing federal charges for aggravated sexual abuse. Call the LLF Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or contact us online to request a confidential consultation.

Contact Us Today!

The LLF Law Firm Team has decades of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the LLF Law Firm today! Our Criminal Defense Team will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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