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Indianapolis Sex Crimes Lawyer

Sex crimes are very serious matters in Marion County and Indiana, not only because of the harsh penalties you face if convicted, but because of the emotional toll they can take on you and your family. Despite the prevalent image of a predator lurking in the bushes waiting for vulnerable strangers, most sex offense charges involve people who know each other, and oftentimes have some kind of prior relationship. That makes these cases legally and emotionally complicated, and in many instances far from cut and dried. Sex offense charges can tear families apart, and even an accusation of a sex offense can leave a permanent stain on your life.

Indiana punishes sex crimes severely. Most of the time, if you’re convicted you face felony punishments and other types of consequences that can follow you for the rest of your life. Consequences of conviction may include:

  • Months, years, or decades of imprisonment
  • Steep fines
  • Having to register as a sex offender
  • Restrictions on where you can work or live
  • A permanent criminal history as a sex offender that may make it hard to find a job or to rent an apartment
  • Denial or suspension of a professional license, such as to teach or practice medicine, law, nursing, or pharmacy
  • Losing custody or having restrictions placed on your custody of your children
  • Loss or denial of an immigration visa, green card, or citizenship application, and you may be deported to your home country if you’re not a U.S. citizen

When you or a family member is facing a sex crime charge, it’s important that you take the charge seriously and get help from an experienced Indianapolis sex crimes lawyer so that someone is looking out for your rights and is working to get you justice through the legal process.

Common Indiana Sex Crime Charges and Penalties

Indiana has numerous statutes defining different kinds of sex crimes against adults and children. These are just a sampling of some of the most common types of charges we see:

Rape

The offense of rape in Indiana involves knowingly or intentionally having sex with another person through the use of force or threats of force, when the other person is unaware that the sex is happening, or when the person is mentally disabled and unable to consent to sex.

Prior to July 1, 2014, Indiana only recognized rape as an offense committed against someone of the opposite sex. However, since a revision to the state’s criminal code that went into effect on that date, the legal definition of rape now encompasses offenses involving members of the same sex. The law change also expands the definition of rape beyond non-consensual sexual intercourse to add knowingly or intentionally causing another person to perform or submit to other sexual conduct.

Rape is a felony in Indiana. If you are convicted, the penalties vary depending on when the offense was committed, whether a deadly weapon or threat of deadly force was used, whether the alleged victim was unknowingly given a drug, and whether the alleged victim was seriously injured by the rape. The penalties for rape in Indiana include:

  • Before July 1, 2014 — The offense is a Class B felony punishable by 6 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the offense was committed using a deadly weapon, use of or threat of deadly force, or by giving the victim drugs without his or her knowledge, the offense is a Class A felony punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Rape is also a Class A felony when it results in serious physical injury to the victim.
  • After July 1, 2014 — The offense is a Level 3 felony punishable by 3 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the offense was committed using a deadly weapon, use of or threat of deadly force, or by giving the victim drugs without his or her knowledge, the offense is a Level 1 felony punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Rape is also a Level 1 felony if it results in serious physical injury to the victim.

Sexual Battery

The crime of sexual battery in Indiana involves:

  • Touching another person through use of force or threat of force
  • Touching a person who lacks the mental capacity to consent
  • Touching another person’s genitalia or private parts without his or her knowledge

When you are suspected of this type of touching with the intent of sexually arousing or gratifying yourself, you may be charged with sexual battery. As with many other types of criminal offenses in Indiana, the level of offense and the penalties vary depend on a number of factors, including whether the offense was committed before amendments to the state’s criminal laws went into effect on July 1, 2014. The penalties for a sexual battery conviction may include:

  • Before July 1, 2014 — The offense is a Class D felony punishable by 6 months to 3 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. If committed with the use or threat of deadly force, while armed with a deadly weapon, or through administering a drug to the victim without his or her knowledge, the offense is a Class C felony punishable by 2 to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • After July 1, 2014 — The offense is a Level 6 felony punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. If committed with the use or threat of deadly force, while armed with a deadly weapon, or through administering a drug to the victim without his or her knowledge, the offense is a Level 4 felony punishable by 2 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Child Molesting

In Indiana, the crime of child molesting involves performing or submitting to sex or deviate sexual conduct with a child under 14. This form of child molestation is a felony. If you are convicted, the penalties vary depending on your age at the time of the offense, whether you committed the offense using a deadly weapon or through the use or threat of deadly force, whether drugs were administered without the victim’s knowledge, or whether the offense resulted in serious physical injury. The penalties also are affected by whether the offense was committed before changes to the Indiana Criminal Code that went into effect on July 1, 2014. Penalties for this type of child molesting include:

  • Before July 1, 2014 — The offense is a Class B felony punishable by 6 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. It’s a Class A felony punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if you were at least 21 at the time of the offense, or it was committed using a deadly weapon or use or threat of deadly force, or drugs were administered to the victim without his or her knowledge, or the offense resulted in serious physical injury.
  • After July 1, 2014 — The offense is a Level 3 felony punishable by 3 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. It’s a Level 1 felony punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if you were at least 21 at the time of the offense, or it was committed using a deadly weapon or use or threat of deadly force, or drugs were administered to the victim without his or her knowledge, or the offense resulted in serious physical injury.

You also may be charged with child molesting when you are suspected of performing or submitting to fondling or touching of a child under 14 or in the presence of a child under 14 when the intent is to arouse the child or the other person. Penalties for this type of child molestation in Indiana include:

  • Before July 1, 2014 — The offense is a Class C felony punishable by 2 to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. However, if it was committed through the use or threat of deadly force, while armed with a deadly weapon, or when the victim was administered a drug without his or her knowledge, then the offense is a Class A felony punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • After July 1, 2014 — The offense is a Level 4 felony punishable by 2 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If it was committed through the use or threat of deadly force, while armed with a deadly weapon, or when the victim was administered a drug without his or her knowledge, then the offense is a Level 2 felony punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

It is a defense to an Indiana child molestation charge that you reasonably believed the child was 16 or older, unless the offense involved use or threat of deadly force, was committed while armed with a deadly weapon, resulted in serious physical injury, or the victim was given drugs without his or her knowledge.

Child Exploitation

The crime of child exploitation essentially involves various aspects of child pornography.

For offenses committed before July 1, 2014, you may be charged with child exploitation if you are suspected of:

  • Knowingly or intentionally are involved in any facet of the funding or creation of digital images or media of sexual conduct involving minors under 18
  • Knowingly or intentionally are involved in disseminating or showing to another person, or offering to disseminate or show any matter that depicts or describes sexual conduct involving minors under 18, or bringing or sending such matter to Indiana for dissemination or exhibition
  • Knowingly or intentionally make a computer available to another person when you know the computer’s hard drive or a peripheral device contains matter that depicts or describes sexual conduct by a minor under 18
  • Knowingly or intentionally for the purposes of satisfying or arousing sexual desires is involved in any facet of the funding or creation of digital images or media containing the uncovered genitals of a minor under 18 or showing the breast of a girl under 18 without fully opaque covering
  • Knowingly or intentionally are involved in disseminating or showing to another person, or offering to disseminate or show any matter containing the uncovered genitals of a minor under 18 or showing the breast of a girl under 18 without fully opaque covering
  • Knowingly or intentionally make a computer available to another person when you know the computer’s hard drive or a peripheral device contains matter containing the uncovered genitals of a minor under 18 or showing the breast of a girl under 18 without fully opaque covering

These forms of the offense are charged as Class C felony offenses if committed before July 1, 2014. A Class C felony may be punished by 2 to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. You could be charged with child exploitation as a Class D felony if prior to July 1, 2014, you are suspected of:

  • Knowingly or intentionally possessing pictures, drawings, photos, film or negatives, movies, videotape, digital images, or any other pictorial representation depicting or describing sexual conduct with someone you know to be a minor under age 18 or who appears to be under age 18, when the material lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value

A Class D felony is punishable by 6 months to 3 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.

Indiana made changes to its criminal code that went into effect on July 1, 2014, that amended the statute related to child exploitation. For offenses committed after July 1, 2014, you can be charged with the Level 5 felony of child exploitation when you are suspected of:

  • Knowingly or intentionally are involved in any facet of the funding or creation of digital images or media of sexual conduct involving minors under 18
  • Knowingly or intentionally are involved in disseminating or showing to another person, or offering to disseminate or show any matter that depicts or describes sexual conduct involving minors under 18, or bringing or sending such matter to Indiana for dissemination or exhibition
  • Knowingly or intentionally make a computer available to another person when you know the computer’s hard drive or a peripheral device contains matter that depicts or describes sexual conduct by a minor under 18

A Level 5 felony is punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

You may be charged with the Level 6 felony of child exploitation when you are suspected of:

  • Knowingly or intentionally possess pictures, drawings, photos, film or negatives, movies, videotape, digital images, or any other pictorial representation depicting or describing sexual conduct with someone you know to be a minor under age 18 or who appears to be under age 18, when the material lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value

A Level 6 felony is punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.

Sexual Misconduct with a Minor

The offense many people would describe as statutory rape is charged in Indiana as sexual misconduct with a minor. You may be charged if you are at least 18 years old, and you are suspected of:

  • Having sex or engage in deviate sexual conduct with a minor ages 14 to 16
  • Touching or fondling a minor ages 14 to 16 with the intent of arousal or sexual gratification, either of the minor, yourself, or another person

However, it’s a defense to the charge if you were less than 4 years older than the alleged victim, or if you reasonably believed that the minor was over 16 at the time of the alleged offense. Other defenses also may apply depending on the circumstances of your case, and an experienced Indianapolis sex crimes lawyer can explain your options. If you’re convicted, the penalties vary depending on your age, whether you used force, threats, or drugs to commit the offense, and whether the offense was committed before amendments to Indiana’s criminal code went into effect on July 1, 2014. The penalties for a conviction of having sex with a minor include:

  • Before July 1, 2014 — The offense is a Class C felony punishable by 2 to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if you were 18 to 21 at the time of the offense. If you were 21 or older, the offense is a Class B felony punishable by 6 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. It’s a Class A felony punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 when committed through the use or threat of deadly force, while armed with a deadly weapon, or through the administering of a drug to the victim without his or her knowledge, or if the offense resulted in serious physical injury.
  • After July 1, 2014 — The offense is a Level 5 felony punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if you were 18 to 21 at the time of the offense. If you were 21 or older, the offense is a Level 4 felony punishable by 2 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. It’s a Level 1 felony punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if committed through the use or threat of deadly force, while armed with a deadly weapon, or through the administering of a drug to the victim without his or her consent, or if the offense resulted in serious physical injury.

The penalties for touching or fondling a minor include:

  • Before July 1, 2014 — If you were 18 to 21, the offense is a Class D felony punishable by 6 months to 3 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. If you were 21 or older, the offense is a Class C felony punishable by 2 to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The offense is a Class B felony punishable by 6 to 20 years in prison and fine of up to $10,000 when committed through the use or threat of deadly force, while armed with a deadly weapon, or through the administering of a drug to the victim without his or her knowledge, or if the offense resulted in serious physical injury.
  • After July 1, 2014 — If you were 18 to 21, the offense is a Level 6 felony punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. If you were 21 or older, the offense is a Level 5 felony punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. It’s a Level 2 felony punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if committed through the use or threat of deadly force, while armed with a deadly weapon, or through administering a drug to the victim without his or her knowledge, or if the offense resulted in serious physical injury.

Sex Offender Registration

When you are convicted of certain types of offenses in Indiana, including sex crimes, and crimes against children, you are required to register as a sexual or violent offender. While you are registered, there are restrictions about where you can live or where you can work. You have to keep your current address on file with the registry, and your name, your photo, your address, and the nature of your conviction will be available to the public. How long you are required to stay registered, and how often your local sheriff’s office will check on you to make sure your registration is up to date, depend on factors including the seriousness of your offense. Some convictions may require that you stay registered for life. If you fail to register as required, or fail to keep your contact information current with the sheriff’s department in the Indiana county where you live, you may face additional criminal penalties. If you have questions about how your sex offense charge might result in having to register as a sexual or violent offender, please call Indianapolis sex crimes attorney from Hessler Law to talk about your case, the possible outcomes, and how we might be able to help.

Experienced Defense for Your Indiana Sex Offense Charge

At Hessler Law, we have a track record of successfully defending people charged of crimes in Indianapolis and the surrounding areas. We’ve worked on both sides of the process — both prosecution and defense — and work diligently to ensure that the people we defend get due process in court. We understand that people who are charged with sex offenses must deal with the stigma of such a charge from the moment they’re arrested, and people often assume that someone charged with a sex offense is guilty before any evidence is ever presented in court. We’ll fight to make sure that your side of the story is told. Our goal is to get you the best possible outcome under the unique circumstances of your charge. For more information about how we can help with your sex offense charge, please call us for a consultation. We also recommend that you read this information when considering how to proceed with your case:

  • Your Rights When Charged with an Indiana Sex Crime — Contact Sean Hessler regarding your constitutional and other legal rights if you are investigated, arrested, charged, and tried for a sex offense in Indiana, and learn more how an experienced Indianapolis sex crimes lawyer can protect your rights.

This website is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship.