If you have been accused of a sex offense in North Carolina, or have already been arrested, the best thing you can do is contact a seasoned sex crimes defense lawyer. These are serious accusations that you need to address immediately. Sex offender registration, prison time, and irreparable damage to your reputation are all on the line but do not assume these allegations mean a conviction. You are innocent until proven guilty, and there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
With decades of experience and an impressive trial record in North Carolina, Wilmington criminal defense attorney Thom Goolsby can preserve your rights, investigate what happened, and fight to clear your name. As soon as you become aware of a sex crime investigation, contact Attorney Thom Goolsby. He offers free initial consultations, where he will listen to what happened, walk you through the process, and explain what comes next.
Never Speak to the Police Without Your Lawyer
You should not talk to the police on your own, whether you have been arrested or not. You might think that if you talk to the officer, you can clear up the misunderstanding. This is seldom the case. Sex crime detectives many times hear what they wish to hear, know how to manipulate your answers and can misrepresent the evidence they claim to have. Answering police questions without an attorney is the dumbest thing you can do. It leads to more problems than benefits.
If the police contact you about a sex crime allegation against you, tell them you are happy to cooperate, but you must speak with a lawyer first. Get the officer’s name and contact information and tell them your attorney will reach out.
If you are arrested, you can and should invoke your right to remain silent. However, this requires telling an officer you are invoking your right to remain silent. If you simply do not speak, an officer can keep peppering you with questions. Tell the officer clearly and politely that you are invoking your right to remain silent, and you wish to contact a lawyer.
Sex Crimes in North Carolina
Sex crimes in North Carolina are among the most aggressively pursued and emotionally charged offenses out there. The punishments are harsh, and even the allegation can take a toll on your life. If you are accused of any of the following, call a sex crimes attorney right away:
Under N.C. Gen. Stat. §14-27.33, you can be charged with a Class A1 misdemeanor for sexual battery if, for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse, you engaged in sexual contact with another person by force and against that person’s will or who has a mental disability or was mentally or physically helpless, and you knew or reasonably should have known.
In North Carolina, the laws for sexual assault and rape are virtually identical. You can be charged with first- or second-degree forcible rape (NCGS §14-27.21 and §14-27.22) or first- or second-degree forcible sexual offense(NCGS §14-27.26 and §14-27.27). Forcible rape involves non-consensual vaginal intercourse and charged as a Class B1 or C felony, depending on the circumstances. Forcible sexual offense charges refer to any other non-consensual penetration or sex act, such as oral or anal sex. This is also either a Class B1 or C felony and can be against an adult or a child.
You will be charged with statutory rape if you are an adult and have sexual contact or intercourse with a minor. Statutory rape does not depend on force or consent, age is the only factor. The age of consent in North Carolina is 16 years old. Therefore, minors under the law are typically 15 or younger, though there are exceptions.
You may be charged with statutory rape of a child by an adult (NCGS §14-27.23), first-degree statutory rape (§14-27.24), statutory rape of a person who is 15 or younger (§14-27.25), statutory sexual offense with a child by an adult (§14-27.28), or statutory sexual offense with a person who is 15 or younger (§14-27.30). Depending on the victim’s age and other factors, statutory rape in NC is charged as either a Class B1 or C felony.
Depending on the circumstances, you can face charges for possession of child pornography, a Class H felony known as third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor (§14-190.17A), copying or distributing child pornography, a Class E felony known as second-degree exploitation of a minor (§14-190.17), or production of child pornography, which is the Class C felony first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor (§14-190.16).
This is the transmission of sexually explicit text messages, usually involving nude photos of the participants. While adults are free to send such materials to other consenting adults, if minors are involved in the sending or receiving of explicit conduct, it can lead to criminal charges for disseminating harmful material to minors under the state’s child pornography statutes.