It can be terrifying to see your child in trouble. It hurts to know that an impulsive act committed by a young person who does not fully realize the consequences of his or her actions can haunt that child for the rest of his or her life.
If your child or teen has been accused of a sex crime, he or she may be saddled with the same stigma that surrounds adult offenders; however the motivation for juvenile sex crimes is generally far different from the factors that motivate adult sex offenders.
As a parent, you want the best for your child. You do not want to see him or her suffer unnecessarily. Whether your child is the victim of false accusations or whether he or she made a serious mistake, it is imperative to find quality legal defense representation for him or her. Neither you nor your child should talk to investigators or others about the alleged incident. Instead, insist upon your right to an attorney and call Coventon Law for help.
When adults commit sex crimes, it may be the result of a mental health issue or a need to exert control. It is a commonly held belief that rape, for example, is more about control and dominance than about sex. However, when kids and teens commit sex crimes, these acts are far more often the result of impulsivity, curiosity, or intoxication. While some adult sex offenders are predatory and run a risk of re-offending, the recidivism rate for juvenile sex offenders is quite low. Seldom are sex crimes committed by minors acts of someone who will become a habitual offender.
Still, Oklahoma law allows for a juvenile under 18 to be charged with any offense that would be a crime if committed by an adult aged 18 or older. These acts include rape and attempted rape, molestation, and forcible sodomy.
A minor under the age of 18 may be prosecuted as a juvenile in juvenile court. Rather than being convicted of a crime, such a person would be “adjudicated delinquent” and be placed in the custody of a juvenile detention facility. In most cases, a minor who is adjudicated delinquent is released from custody before or shortly after his or her 18th birthday.
There are circumstances under which a minor is not adjudicated as a juvenile, but rather as a youthful offender.
Youthful offender status is given to minors who commit serious crimes that fall short of the first degree murder charge for which a teen may be charged as an adult. A teen aged 15 to 17 would generally be charged as a youthful offender for the following crimes:
Unlike juvenile delinquents, youthful offenders are not released from custody when they turn 18. Instead, these young people are often transferred to a state prison to complete their sentences.
The penalties for rape, forcible sodomy, and lewd acts with minors are severe, and if your child is sentenced as a youthful offender, he or she could spend the majority of his or her young adulthood in prison.
First degree rape, for example, carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Oklahoma law lists several specific acts of sexual penetration which constitute rape in the first degree. Juveniles are commonly charged under the following scenario:
“Rape in the first degree shall include . . . rape accomplished where the victim is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act and this fact is known to the accused” (21 O.S. 1114 [A-4]).
It is a tale that is plastered in news headlines across the nation time after time. A young man is accused of rape after engaging in drunken sex with a girl. Teens are arrested for sexual assault or rape by instrumentation after they take advantage of a heavily intoxicated classmate at a party.
These acts are not excusable; however, they are typically motivated by peer pressure, a lack of impulse control, a failure to recognize the severity of the offense, a lack of understanding of the nature of the law, and relaxed inhibitions fueled by alcohol or drug use.
Rape charges may also be filed against a juvenile after another teen makes a false accusation. False rape claims are typically made by someone seeking revenge; someone looking for attention; or a person who cries, “Rape,” in an attempt to reduce or eliminate his or her own culpability in a consensual encounter.
Teens may also be accused of sex crimes as a result of “hazing.” Often, these acts of abuse are intended by the perpetrators to be a sort of right-of-passage for a younger student or teammate. Instead, the actions involved cross the line into criminal behavior, and the perpetrators of the hazing find themselves charged with lewd molestation or rape by instrumentation.
It is important to understand the motivation for a juvenile sex crime in order to find the appropriate response. Treatment may be a more appropriate response than incarceration as a youthful offender. Furthermore, not every juvenile rape charge is the result of an actual sex crime. Many teens have found themselves facing a criminal charge following a false rape accusation.
Regardless of the situation that led to your child’s charge, experienced criminal defense representation is imperative. Call Coventon Law at (405) 608-4990 or submit our online case review form for a free, confidential discussion about your child’s case.