Under Georgia law, child molestation is one of the most serious and socially damaging crimes. However, it is easy for well-intentioned people (such as educators, social workers, and family members) to misinterpret innocent conduct and see evidence of child sexual abuse. If you are the subject of a child molestation investigation, you may feel abandoned and afraid. We are here to help.
Child Molestation Laws in Georgia
Under Georgia law, child molestation is defined as:
- Any immoral or indecent act,
- To, in the presence of, or with any child under the age of 16,
- That is intended to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of the child or abuser.
Molestation charges can be based simply on a young person’s allegations or statements. While forensic evidence (obtained during a medical exam) is frequently used by prosecutors in a child molestation claim, physical evidence is not legally required. Often there is a videotaped interview of the accuser by specially trained “interviewers.”
Typically, people cannot testify about what they were told. These statements are considered hearsay and therefore inadmissible at court. However, under Georgia’s “Child Hearsay Rule,” an educator, social worker, or another person can testify about a child’s statements concerning sexual abuse. Unfortunately, during a child molestation investigation, investigators frequently use improper interviewing techniques, asking leading questions that result in inaccurate and incriminating statements.
False Allegations of Sexual Abuse
According to some studies, many child sex crime allegations are untrue. Child molestation is a horrific crime. However, false molestation claims are equally catastrophic. A skilled criminal defense attorney will examine your accuser’s allegations, especially when there isn’t physical evidence. A lawyer will look carefully for other motives (such as when abuse claims arise in the midst of a custody dispute) and inaccurate or inconsistent testimony.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you minimize the impact of this inaccurate or biased evidence. A detailed understanding of the real facts surrounding your accuser’s statements, a thorough review of all of the evidence, and the use of experts (such as forensic and medical experts) can provide valuable information that helps clear your name.
Penalties for a Child Molestation Conviction
The penalties for child molestation are severe. Under Georgia law, you may face:
- Between five and twenty years of jail time,
- Large fines, and
- Lifetime registration as a sex offender.
If your offense involves aggravated child molestation or you are a repeat offender, the penalties increase significantly. 25 years in prison is the minimum without any chance of early parole.
However, a charge is not a conviction. Law enforcement can arrest you for child molestation based on probable cause. However, a conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a much higher standard. While you should always take an arrest seriously, you shouldn’t give up hope. A lawyer can help you present defenses to the charges. Fighting for innocence in these cases is an absolute must.
Defenses Against Child Molestation Claims
There are a variety of defenses available in child molestation cases, depending on your circumstances. They may involve factual, legal, and procedural issues, including:
- Mistaken identity
- Disputes over whether the alleged behavior actually occurred,
- Flaws in the forensic evidence, and
- Lack of criminal intent.
If the alleged abuse occurred on or after July 1, 2012, Georgia does not have a statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. However, earlier allegations may be barred by the previous statute of limitations. Contact a criminal defense lawyer for more information.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Legal Representation
Due to the social stigma surrounding child sexual abuse, you may be afraid to seek help. And, your friends, loved ones, and colleagues may struggle to give you much-needed emotional support. Finally, you may be angry at the people making false allegations of child molestation. However, a criminal defense lawyer always understands that there are two sides to every story. We will help you overcome your fear and regain control of the situation. Our job is to educate you about your rights, sift through the evidence, and advocate on your behalf.
Because of the severity of child molestation charges, it is in your best interests to remain silent and contact an aggressive criminal defense lawyer immediately. Without the aid of an experienced defense lawyer, you may accidentally make statements that seem incriminating. And, these statements may be used against you at trial. If your child is facing accusation of these acts, please do not waive their rights without speaking to an experienced criminal defense trial attorney.
Schedule a Consultation With a Child Molestation Lawyer
At the Frye Law Group, we aggressively defend our clients against child molestation charges. We provide personalized attention and will fight tirelessly on your behalf. Contact us today for a free and confidential case evaluation.