Individuals charged with federal sex offenses face potentially severe consequences, including incarceration and significant financial repercussions. At Shealey Law Firm, we believe everyone deserves a rigorous defense regardless of the alleged crime. Our federal sex crime lawyers and knowledgeable legal team in Columbia, South Carolina are here to listen and help you build a strong defense. Contact a Columbia federal criminal defense lawyer from our firm today.
How Does a Federal Sex Offense Compare to a State Sex Offense?
The main difference between federal and state sex crimes is related to jurisdiction, legal definitions, the agencies that investigate and the severity of punishment after conviction.
Federal sex offenses are sexual crimes that fall under the scope of federal law rather than state law. These offenses often involve activities like crossing state lines, using the internet to exploit minors or committing sexual assault on federal property.
Federal courts handle the prosecution, and those convicted serve their time in federal prisons.
Additionally, federal agencies, such as the FBI and ICE, usually conduct the investigations.
Penalties for federal offenses often include stricter mandatory minimum sentences for crimes like child pornography and sex trafficking.
State sex crimes include localized activities like rape, sexual assault and indecent exposure.
State laws govern these crimes, and state courts handle the prosecutions. State law enforcement agencies conduct the investigations. The range of punishments and definitions of crimes can differ significantly from state to state, but both federal and state systems operate sex offender registries.
Federal sex crimes we defend against
At Shealey Law Firm, we defend people accused of the following federal sex offenses:
- Possession of child pornography involves knowingly holding or controlling sexually explicit material featuring minors. Under 18 U.S. Code 2252, those found guilty can face at least five years in prison, depending on the nature of the material and prior offenses.
- Child sexual exploitation involves using minors in sexual activities for personal, financial or other forms of gain. Under 18 U.S. Code 2251, those convicted can face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.
- Transportation of minors is the act of knowingly moving individuals under the age of 18 across state lines or international borders to engage in illegal sexual activity. Under 18 U.S. Code 2423, those convicted can face a minimum prison sentence of 10 years.
- Aggravated sexual abuse is a severe form of sexual misconduct involving force, threats or the victim’s incapacitation. Under 18 U.S. Code 2241, those found guilty could face up to life imprisonment.
We also handle cases involving human trafficking, including sex trafficking and forced labor. Sex trafficking involves recruiting, harboring, transporting or obtaining an individual for commercial sexual acts through force, fraud or coercion. Forced labor refers to obtaining an individual for work or services through the same means, leading to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.
If you face any of these charges, our federal sex crime attorneys can help.
What Is the National Sex Offender Registration?
The National Sex Offender Registry is a centralized database for tracking individuals convicted of sex-related crimes. The U.S. Department of Justice manages it to enhance public safety by providing communities and law enforcement agencies with access to information about registered sex offenders in their neighborhoods. The registry consolidates data from state, territorial and tribal jurisdictions, allowing for a comprehensive view of registered offenders nationwide.
Individuals convicted of specific sexual offenses legally must register their information, including names, addresses, photographs and details about the crimes committed. The obligations for registration can extend for years or even for a lifetime, depending on the severity of the offense and state-specific guidelines. Failure to register or update information can lead to criminal penalties.
How South Carolina handles sex offender registration
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division maintains a sex offender registry. It includes individuals convicted of certain sexual offenses and crimes against children. Offenders must update their registration annually and provide the same details required by the national registry, as well as their physical descriptions. The state allows public access to the sex offender registry.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer To Defend Against Federal Sex Offense Charges?
Facing federal sex offense charges is a serious matter. Our experienced federal sex crime lawyers will help you navigate the complexities of the national legal system, contributing to your case in multiple ways:
- Formulating a tailored legal strategy to challenge evidence and question witnesses
- Engaging with prosecutors to reduce charges or penalties
- Guiding you through complex federal regulations and court procedures
- Arguing for leniency in sentencing, especially against mandatory minimums
- Assembling a team of experts to strengthen your defense
We can guide you through plea negotiations, ensuring you understand the long-term consequences of any agreement. Having legal counsel is especially important in federal cases because agencies like the FBI have extensive resources for investigating and prosecuting these crimes. This makes it challenging for you to build a strong case without help.
The details of your case will determine the most appropriate defense to deploy. Examples we may use include:
- Proving that the accused is not the perpetrator using alibi evidence, challenging the reliability of eyewitness testimony or disputing forensic findings
- Arguing that the prosecution lacks the requisite evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt
- Questioning the credibility of witnesses brought by the prosecution to cast doubt
- Demonstrating that law enforcement violated your rights, such as conducting an unlawful search or coercing a confession
A common method is establishing that the alleged victim gave informed and voluntary consent.
However, consent is not a valid defense in cases involving minors. These strategies require careful preparation and strong legal arguments. Employing experienced attorneys can often improve the chances of a favorable outcome.
Contact Our Federal Sex Crime Lawyers in Columbia Now
When facing federal sex crimes, it is never too soon to contact the attorneys at Shealey Law Firm in Columbia, South Carolina. We aggressively defend our clients in these complex cases, leaving no stone unturned when providing a determined defense. Contact us by calling 803-590-3917, or using our online form to speak with federal sex crime lawyers about the details of your case today.