The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
Buffalo Criminal Lawyers and Sex Crimes Defenses
March 1, 2019
Minnesota law includes a wide array of sexual offenses. Many of them require some sort of physical contact. But in other cases, the defendant and alleged victim do not have to be in the same room or even on the same continent. Since there are so many types of sex crimes, a Buffalo sex crimes attorney has many options in terms of affirmative defenses.
In affirmative defenses like the ones dicussed below, the defendant has the burden of proof. THat’s different from the elements of the offense. On those points, the prosecutor must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Perhaps most importantly, sex crimes prosecutrions have lots of movign parts. These cases often involve complex search warrants, questionable eyewitness testimony, and other such issues.
Can a Buffalo Criminal Lawyer Prove Entrapment in a Sex Crimes Case?
Even between adults and minors, sexting is generally not illegal in Minnesota. Exchanging suggestive or explicit internet messages with a minor could have a number of serious consequences. But a criminal conviction is not one of them.
However, if the text, email, chat room, or other conversation goes to the next level. criminal liability may be an issue. It is not only illegal under Minnesota and federal law to possess child pornography. It is also illegal to solicit such material.
Many times, police detectives pose as underage girls and enter online chat rooms. Such a conversation could result in criminal charges. A reasonable belief about the other person’s age and identity can either be a defense or a basis for prosecution. But even if “the girl” entices a defendant (e.g. do you want me to send you a dirty picture), the entrapment defense may not apply.
Legally, for the entrapment defense to hold up in court, the defendant must have no predisposition to commit the charged offense.
The online environment often comes into play here. If the conversation occurred in a sex chat room, a Buffalo criminal lawyer would be hard-pressed to show that the defendant had no presdisposition. However, the outcome may be different in another online forum, such as Facebook messaging.
Is Consent a Defense?
Consent is never a defense in online exchange prosecutions. As a matter of law, minors cannot consent to sexual activity. The same thing applies to mentally impaired individuals, incapacitated (e.g. substance-impaired) individuals, and certain other people.
Additionally, consent is very hard for Buffalo criminal lawyers to establish in certain cases, such as doctor-patient or clergy-parishioner. Doctors, priests, and other such professionals have so much moral authority that people like patients and parishioners are not an even footing with them in terms of sexual consent.
However, consent may be a defense to most other kinds of sexual battery cases. This sinister-sounding term really means any unwanted sexual contact of any degree. Section 609.341 defines consent as “words or overt actions by a person indicating a freely given present agreement to perform a particular sexual act with the actor.” Furthermore, consent “does not mean the existence of a prior or current social relationship between the actor and the complainant or that the complainant failed to resist a particular sexual act.”
That’s a very limited definition. Only an absolute and unqualified “Yes” is consent. “Maybe later,” “Let’s get to know each other first,” and any other equivocal language is not consent. Furthermore, assent is not the same thing as consent. Finally, a person can withdraw consent at any time.
What Are Some Investigatory Problems in Sex Crimes Cases?
In both remote and personal sex crimes prosecutions, and in all other types of criminal cases, police officer and prosecutor mistakes have significant consequences.
Lack of evidence is sometimes an issue. In remote cases, if the defendant used something like a Virtual Private Network, it’s difficult to tie a specific device with a specific exchange of messages. In sexual battery cases, the alleged victim may have only seen the defendant for a moment in bad lighting.
Prosecutors are not perfect in these cases either. Many times, government lawyers are prone to accept false allegations at face value. Statistically, while they may be fatally mistaken about the details, very few alleged victims invent allegations out of thin air. However, these situations do occur. So, it’s always important for Buffalo criminal lawyers to have independent professionals interview alleged victims. These professionals know how to detect false testimony. For example, if there is a parallel proceeding in family court, there’s a good chance that the abuse or other allegation is either fabricated or inflated.
Connect with Aggressive Attorneys
Serious sex crimes allegations demand a vigorous defense. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo criminal lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.