Have you Been Charged with Child Molestation in Georgia?
Many people automatically associate sex crimes with Law and Order SVU, but truthfully, many people that are wrongfully charged and are not treated fairly by the general public because people deem them guilty before they have ever been to court. Our Lawyers genuinely care for you and want to help you build your best-case defense. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. Do not wait.
Georgia Law on Child Molestation
O.C.G.A. § 16-6-4(a) states that a person commits the offense of child molestation when the person either:
- Does any immoral or indecent act to or in the presence of or with any child under the age of 16 years with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the person; or
- By means of an electronic device, transmits images of a person engaging in, inducing, or otherwise participating in any immoral or indecent act to a child under the age of 16 years with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the person
Georgia also has a separate crime of aggravated child molestation.
Georgia Case Law on Child Molestation
A grandfather was convicted of child molestation with his under age 12 granddaughter in Craft v. State. 324 Ga. App. 7 (2013). The victim's grandfather took her to his home for the purpose of having her change clothes after she spilled some milk. At his house, he began to ask her inappropriate questions and tried to touch her vaginal area. He then asked if she would like to touch his penis, exposed himself to her, and attempted to kiss her on the lips. The Court found that defendant's actions in the presence of the child in combination with his questions were immoral and indecent within the meaning of the statute. They found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and he was convicted of child molestation.
What has to be Proven to be Convicted
To be convicted of child molestation, the State must demonstrate that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That involves showing that an immoral or indecent act was committed and the child was under the age of 16.
Penalty for a Child Molestation Conviction in Georgia
A person convicted of child molestation will be guilty of a felony. For the first child molestation conviction, the accused will face a sentence of five to twenty years in prison. In addition, the Department of Corrections will provide counseling to the defendant.
For a second or subsequent conviction of child molestation, the punishment increases to a prison term between ten and thirty years or life in prison.
However, if the victim is at between 14 and 16 years old and the person convicted of child molestation is 18 years or younger and no more than four years older than the victim, then the crime will be charged as a misdemeanor.
Lastly, a conviction for child molestation comes with the requirement that the defendant register as a sex offender. The designation of a person as a sex offender is not intended to be a punishment or a sentence but instead a regulatory mechanism resulting from the conviction of certain crimes.
Defenses to Child Molestation in Georgia
Mistake of Age: If the victim is found to be above 16 years of age, then the crime cannot be child molestation. However, the defendant could still be charged with a separate crime.
A crime has been falsely reported: There are many instances in which a child or a supervising adult may have the motive to falsely report a crime. For example, a husband and wife fighting a bitter custody battle for the children may point the finger at the opposite spouse accusing them of child molestation in order to obtain primary legal custody.
The touching was not inappropriate: There are times where a parent may touch the genitals of a child without inappropriate intentions. Examples include changing a diaper or checking a temperature. If an act is not immoral or indecent, no child molestation has occurred.
What are not Defenses
The defendant believed the victim was old enough to consent: Because knowledge of the victim's age is not an element of the crime of child molestation, it does not matter whether or not the defendant believed them to be of age. Just the fact that they are underage will be sufficient for a conviction. Haywood v. State, 283 Ga. App. 568, (2007).
Lack of Intent: Intent does not have to be proven through a general plan to commit child molestation. Intent can be inferred from the direct and circumstantial evidence that the accused acted with the intent to arouse or satisfy the defendant's own sexual desires. Parrott v. State, 318 Ga. App. 545, (2012).
There was no penetration: Penetration is not required for child molestation to occur. Further, skin-to-skin contact is not necessary for a conviction either. Raymond v. State, 232 Ga. App. 228, (1998).
The victim consented: The Court has found that if the victim was less than 16 years old, then they cannot consent to acts that constitute child molestation. Therefore, even if they did consent, they do not have the ability, so the actions will still be considered child molestation. Driggers v. State, 291 Ga. App. 841, (2008).
A charge of Child Molestation carries substantial penalties. If you have been accused, contact the Law Office of Richard Lawson and his team of Attorneys from the very beginning. Every minute you wait is a chance that your defense may be lost. We are here to help 24/7 so contact us today, weekday, weekend or holiday.