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Types of Sex Crimes in Virginia

The term sex crime refers to a violation of criminal law that has some sexual element to it. These offenses are serious because they are commonly charged as  felonies and often involve vulnerable victims. Additionally, sex crimes often carry serious penalties including long terms of potential imprisonment or incarceration and required registration on the Virginia Sex Crimes Registry. Sex crimes also have a very serious connotation in our society, as those who are charged—let alone convicted—of sex crimes often face difficult tasks moving forward and maintaining employment, securing housing, and rejoining and maintaining their relationships within the community. For these reasons, anyone charged, or even accused, of committing a sex crime should consult with a Virginia sex crimes lawyer to begin mitigating the damage and building a strong defense as soon as possible.

Different Sex Crimes an Individual can be Charged With in Virginia

There are varieties of different sex crimes that you may be charged with in Virginia. The most serious sex crimes include charges of rape, forcible sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, object sexual penetration, and digital penetration. However there may be less serious sex crimes, meaning they are misdemeanor offenses rather than felony offenses. An example of a misdemeanor sex crime would be sexual battery, masturbation in public, or simulated masturbation to public. In addition, indecent exposure is a misdemeanor case, but is technically classified under sex crimes.

Potential Penalties

Misdemeanor sex crimes have different potential penalties. Misdemeanors are typically punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine, or a combination thereof. It may be a requirement to register for certain less serious registries for misdemeanor sex crime offenses. Felony sex crimes, however, carry the potential for an extensive period incarceration. Incarceration refers to the loss of liberty within the Virginia Department of Corrections. This is prison time versus local jail time, thus there is a big difference between potential felony sex crimes and misdemeanor sex crimes.

Sexual Battery and Aggravated Sexual Battery in Virginia

Sexual battery is one of the more common versions of misdemeanor sex crimes. Sexual battery refers to the touching of either a sexual body part or the immediate covering of the sexual area including the breast, buttocks, or genitalia. Sexual battery is covered by Virginia Code Section 18.2-67.4 and it is generally a class I misdemeanor offense.

Repeated sexual battery may require registry on the local sex offense registry, however the sexual battery law requires certain things, not simply a touching of the breast, buttocks, or other area. It requires an act of sexual abuse which is a defined term that can be found in VA Code 18.2-67.10. This sexual abuse must occur against the will of the complainant or end by force, threat, intimidation, and arrest.

Differences Between the Two Charges

Typically, the difference between a sexual battery and aggravated sexual battery is the nature of the complaining witness. If the complaining witness is less than 13 years of age, a simple sexual battery may become aggravated. If the person is over the age of 13, but under the age of 18 and the offense is committed by a family member, the accused caused serious bodily and mental injuries to the complaining witness, or a deadly weapon or dangerous weapon was used, a sexual battery case may be escalated up to being aggravated sexual battery.

Aggravated sexual battery is an unclassified felony and is punishable by confinement and imprisonment with the Department of Corrections for period not less than one nor more than 20 years and a fine of up to $200,000. There are also a variety of sexual battery offenses and sex crimes involving minors. Some of these sex crimes that  involve minors may include sodomy of a minor or aggravate sexual battery, which involves a minor by the nature of the violation. When minors are involved, typically, the case originates in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

Sexting as a Criminal Charge

Depending on the nature of the sexting—what is said and what images, if any, are shown—it can be consider a sex crime. Often sexting involves people that are under the age of 18 and therefore they may be involved in the production, transmission, or distribution of child pornography, in addition to variety of other potential legal issues.

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