If you are charged with a sexual crime in Missouri, penalties can be severe and life-altering. Depending on the offense, if you have previously been charged and convicted, and if the charge involves a minor, you can end up with hefty fines and prison time. However, there are ways to defend against sexual charges that may lessen the penalties or prove you innocent.
Penalties for sex crimes in Missouri
Depending on the age of the victim, the amount of force used on the victim, and the particular offense, penalties will vary from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class A felony. The most serious charges involve force, physical injury, or children under 12.
- First-degree rape or sodomy with serious physical injury, using a weapon, or of a child under 12 is considered a Class A felony and is punishable by 10-30 years or life in prison. If the rape or sodomy was with a child under 12, there is a mandatory life sentence.
- First-degree rape or sodomy (not included above) or 1st-degree sexual abuse with physical injury, using a deadly weapon, or of a child under 12, is a Class B felony and carries a prison sentence of 5-15 years.
- Second-degree rape, sodomy, statutory rape, or sodomy in the Second-degree or First-degree sexual abuse (Class C felony) has a sentence of up to seven years and up to $5,000 in fines.
- Second-degree sexual abuse with a prior sex offense, using a deadly weapon, or if committed as part of a ceremony or ritual is considered a Class D felony with imprisonment of up to 4 years and up to $5,000 in fines.
- Second-degree sexual abuse, not mentioned above, is a Class A misdemeanor and can receive a penalty of up to a year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
Defense strategies for Missouri sex crimes
There are three typical defense strategies in sex crime cases:
- Innocence: You will have to prove that you are innocent by establishing an alibi, calling witnesses, or showing proof that you are innocent of the charges. Mistaken identity could be a reason for the charges, but an alibi must be offered to prove it.
- Consent: If the accuser gave consent and the accused is able to provide evidence, this may be a good defense, but it can be difficult to prove. For example, if the persons were in a prior sexual relationship, you may be able to argue consent. This defense does not apply to minors, as the court believes they are not of age to give consent.
- Insanity or mental incapacity: If you can prove you were insane at the time of the sexual crime or do not have the mental capacity to understand right from wrong or the consequence of your actions, you may be able to use this defense.
Being convicted of sex crimes in Missouri is serious. In addition to imprisonment and hefty fines, you will be registered on the national sex offender list. A conviction may lead to losing your job or difficulty with future employment and could even affect your credit rating and ability to get a mortgage.