Experienced Pennsylvania Sex Crime Lawyer in Delaware County
If you are or believe you may soon be facing criminal charges for a sex offense in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, you need a criminal defense attorney experienced with sex crime cases. James Bonner is a former Delaware County Assistant District Attorney, a Pennsylvania sex crime lawyer, and an experienced trial attorney. His work as assistant district attorney provides invaluable insight into your case—he knows how the prosecution thinks and pursues charges.
When facing sex crime charges, you may feel overwhelmed. This difficult time will affect the rest of your life, so you need guidance from an experienced attorney who can help protect your rights. At James H. Bonner Esquire, P.C., attorney James H. Bonner is dedicated to helping you navigate next steps, challenging the prosecution’s allegations, and presenting a solid defense on your behalf. He is a litigator with experience, waiting to serve you.
Call 610-451-4555 today, and make an appointment with James H. Bonner, an experienced Pennsylvania sex crime lawyer who will fight for you.
Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney: Sex Crime Charges
Pennsylvania can levy numerous criminal charges for sex offenses. The first step in your case is understanding your exact charges. The potential charges include felonies and misdemeanors, and some can be either—depending on the facts of your case and your criminal history. In addition, some of the charges include sentencing enhancements and require sex offender registration.
Some of the most frequent criminal charges requiring an experienced Pennsylvania sex crime lawyer include the following:
- Rape:In Pennsylvania, rape is one of the most severe sex crime charges. Charges involve an allegation of force, the threat of force, or when the alleged victim cannot consent. Pennsylvania law categorizes rape as a first-degree felony, subject to sentencing enhancements, and requires sex-offender registration upon release from prison.
- Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse: Similar to rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse also involves force, the threat of force, or a lack of consent from the victim. Additionally, the alleged victim may be someone other than your spouse, under 16, and you are at least four years older. As with rape, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse is a first-degree felony subject to sentence enhancements and requires sex offender registration upon release.
- Sexual Assault: The crime of sexual assault occurs when you engage in sexual or deviant sexual intercourse without consent. It is a catch-all for cases that do not constitute either rape or deviant sexual assault. In Pennsylvania, sexual assault is a second-degree felony.
- Indecent Assault: This law prohibits any indecent touching for the purpose of sexual gratification. According to the facts of your case, it is either a misdemeanor or a felony. Indecent assault may be subject to sentence enhancement and require sex offender registration.
- Child Pornography/Sexual Abuse of a Child: Knowingly possessing or viewing any material depicting a minor either engaging in or simulating a prohibited sexual act constitutes the sex crime of child pornography. This is a felony offense, possibly a first-degree felony depending on the facts. This offense requires sex offender registration upon release.
- Unlawful Contact with a Minor: Pennsylvania prohibits any contact with a minor for the purpose of engaging in any sex offense. Unlawful contact with a minor is, at minimum, a third-degree felony. It may be a higher-degree felony as the classification depends on the underlying crime intended.
- Indecent Exposure: A charge of indecent exposure involves displaying genitalia in either a public place or a place where other people are present when you know or should know that the exposure of your genitalia would offend those people. Indecent exposure is a misdemeanor.
- Molestation: One of the most frequently charged sex crimes in Pennslyvania is molestation. Molestation involves unwelcome, irritating, and unwanted sexual advances toward the alleged victim. It is essential to understand that a molestation charge does not require touching. Words and actions are sufficient for a conviction.
- Prostitution/Solicitation: The crime of prostitution involves accepting money in exchange for sexual activities. Solicitation involves paying money in exchange for sexual activities. This charge is generally a third-degree misdemeanor. However, if you are aware that you have HIV, then the offense is a third-degree felony.
- Incest: In Pennsylvania, incest is illegal. The prohibitions apply to marriage, cohabitation, or sexual intercourse with any ancestor, descendant, or sibling if you are fully or half-related by blood. The law also prohibits the same activities with any aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew if they are full-blood relatives. Incest is a second-degree felony, subject to sentence enhancements and sex offender registration in certain instances.
Other common sex crime charges include:
- Internet sex crimes
- Online solicitation of a minor
- Date rape
- Statutory rape
- Spousal rape
- Possession of obscene materials
The preceding lists are just a sampling of the sex offenses that Pennsylvania law prohibits. If the state charges you with any sex crime or is actively investigating you, you should seek counsel. Attorney James H. Bonner is an experienced Pennsylvania sex crime lawyer in Delaware County who can help you understand the exact nature of the charge against you.
Mounting a Defense to Sex Assault Crimes in Pennsylvania
As with any criminal charge in Pennsylvania, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. In a trial, the prosecution must present its case first and:
- Overcome the presumption of innocence
- Establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt
- Secure a unanimous verdict
As a former Assistant District Attorney and experienced Pennsylvania sex crime lawyer, James Bonner understands the importance of holding the prosecution to its burden. The first line of defense is to prevent the prosecution from meeting its burden of proof by vigorously challenging the admissibility of evidence and the credibility of the state’s case.
Depending on the unique facts of your case, this may include:
- Pre-trial motions: These motions aim to exclude or limit evidence that the prosecution may present.
- Jury selection: Jury selection is your opportunity to effectively challenge and remove any potential jury member that may have a bias against you.
- Objections: Holding the prosecution not simply to its burden but also to the rules of criminal procedure restricts the admission of certain evidence.
- Cross-Examination: This is the primary method to challenge the prosecution’s case at trial. It includes challenging witness testimony, witness credibility, and the reliability of any physical evidence the prosecution presents.
After the prosecution presents its case, several defenses are available to you when facing sex crime charges. Depending on the unique facts of your case, one or more of the following common defenses may be appropriate:
- Alibi: An alibi is evidence supporting the conclusion that you could not have committed the alleged sex crime because you were not present when the crime took place. Maintaining this defense usually requires witnesses that can place you elsewhere during the crime. Any available digital data may bolster your alibi, including information from cell phones and security cameras.
- Consent: If the alleged victim can legally consent and consented, there is no crime. This defense tends to rely on testimony, text messages, phone calls, and actions of the alleged victim leading up to and at the time of the alleged offense. For consent to be a valid defense in Pennsylvania, the alleged victim must be 16 years of age or older and able to give consent.
- Mistaken Identity: Eyewitness identification, especially of strangers, is subject to error. A Pennsylvania sex crime lawyer can challenge the accuracy of an identification by calling into question the individual’s opportunity to view a defendant, lighting, length of observation, and highlight any discrepancies between the description given at the time of the crime and the subsequent identification.
- DNA Evidence: The use of DNA evidence in sex offenses is common. After these crimes occur, it is probable that the assailant left behind genetic material, including hair, saliva, skin, or other bodily fluids. If the DNA recovered from the alleged victim does not match your DNA profile, that is compelling evidence in your favor. If the DNA evidence matches your genetic profile, you can challenge its admission if an error occurred during its collection, transportation, storage, or testing.
- False Allegations: A false allegation can include anything from a completely made-up allegation to a misstatement of relevant circumstances. There are many reasons that an alleged victim may fabricate a story. If there is a basis to believe that the alleged victim is making false accusations, an experienced Pennsylvania sex crime lawyer will work to unravel the lies through evidence collection and cross-examination.
Defenses may also be technical and specific to the actions alleged. For example, if the state incorrectly believed the alleged victim to be a minor at the time of the offense. These situations are case-dependent, as they rely on the language of the charges and the facts of your case. With the experience of an experienced sex crime attorney on your side to correct the facts of the case, the court may lower or dismiss the charges against you.
If you are facing sex crime charges, you should speak with James H. Bonner, a criminal defense attorney serving Delaware County.
Sentencing Range for Sex Crimes in Pennsylvania
James H. Bonner knows that even If your case proceeds to sentencing, there remains substantial work to accomplish on your behalf. While some Pennsylvania sex crime convictions have mandatory sentences and potential sentence enhancements, the trial judge has discretion regarding your precise sentence. A sentencing hearing allows you to demonstrate that you are worthy of leniency.
The standard sentencing range you face will depend on the charges:
- First-degree felony: A maximum sentence of twenty years and a fine of $25,000
- Second-degree felony: A maximum sentence of ten years and a fine of $25,000
- Third-degree felony: A maximum sentence of seven years and a fine of $15,000
- First-degree misdemeanor: A maximum sentence of five years and a fine of $10,000
- Second-degree misdemeanor: A maximum sentence of two years and a fine of $5,000
- Third-degree misdemeanor: A maximum sentence of one year and a fine of $2,000
Some of these sentences depend on sentencing enhancements, or add-ons, that extend the maximum sentence based on the facts of a particular case. For example, in a rape charge:
- The maximum sentence is 40 years if a child is involved.
- The maximum sentence is life in prison if the child is seriously injured.
- If the assailant used drugs or alcohol to erode the victim’s ability to consent, then the maximum sentence is 30 years and a fine of $125,000.
Since the trial judge retains discretion while imposing a particular sentence, it is essential to present mitigating evidence to the judge to request a shorter sentence. This includes presenting evidence the following types of evidence:
- Statements from friends, family, and community members
- Your statement to the court
- Other relevant factors about your life
The potential punishments in a Delaware County sex crime case are severe and highlight the need for an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner. James H. Bonner is an experienced Pennsylvania sex crime lawyer ready to fight for your rights.
Pennsylvania Sex Offender Registration Requirements
A conviction of certain sexual assault crimes in Pennsylvania carries with them a requirement to register as a sex offender. The following offenses are subject to registration:
- Sexual offenses against children
- Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
- Aggravated indecent assault
A conviction on any of the sexual assault laws listed above requires you to register with the Pennsylvania sex offender database upon release from prison. This online database is available to the general public. Although it may be the least of your worries if you are still awaiting trial, it is another significant consequence that could limit your ability to find work and a place to live upon your release if convicted.
The length of time you must register depends on several factors, including your conviction. Upon release, you will be evaluated and placed in one of the following three groups for registration purposes:
- Tier One: Registration required once a year for 15 years
- Tier Two: Registration required twice a year for 25 years
- Tier Three: Registration required four times a year for life
Additionally, a conviction of a sexual offense against a minor requires you to report to local law enforcement upon release.
Failing to comply with your registration requirements is a separate crime for which you could be sent back to prison and ordered to pay additional fines.
Speak to Pennsylvania Sex Crime Lawyer James H. Bonner if You Are Facing Sex Offense Charges
Facing sex crime charges may feel terrifying. You need a criminal defense attorney with experience working as a Pennsylvania sex crime lawyer to protect your rights. It is essential to move quickly to secure your representation. The more time that passes after an alleged crime, the more difficult it is to collect and preserve evidence.
Having worked as an Assistant District Attorney and as a criminal defense attorney, James H. Bonner understands the intricacies of these cases. Put his wealth of experience to work for you. Whether your case goes to trial or results in a favorable plea, you’ll have a knowledgeable attorney on your side.
James H. Bonner is an experienced Pennsylvania sex crime lawyer that will fight to protect your rights. Call the law offices of James H. Bonner, Esquire, P.C.m in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, today to schedule an appointment at 610-450-4555.
1210 N. Middletown Road, Glen Mills, PA 19342
8 West Front, Media, PA 19063