Daniel Hines, a pastor as well as a local school bus driver in South Georgia, turned himself in this past week on charges of aggravated child molestation and sodomy in Georgia.
This was the result of an investigation that occurred from accusations made by church members.
As a Georgia Sex Crimes Lawyer, I will outline the law behind both child molestation and aggravated child molestation in today's post. This is to better understand the offenses that Hines has been accused of committing.
Aggravated Child Molestation in Georgia
In order to completely understand the law behind aggravated child molestation, first a look at child molestation in Georgia is necessary. Child molestation is defined by Georgia Law in O.C.G.A. §16-6-4 as:
A person commits the offense of child molestation when the person either he or she 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.
Child molestation is classified as a felony. If convicted of child molestation, a person is facing between five and twenty years in prison.
Aggravated child molestation in Georgia is the elevated offense of the base crime of child molestation. Aggravated child molestation is defined by Georgia Law in the same statute as child molestation. The law is as follows:
A person commits the offense of aggravated child molestation when such person commits an offense of child molestation which act physically injures the child or involves an act of sodomy.
Aggravated child molestation is also classified as a felony. However, the penalty is much more severe. If convicted of aggravated child molestation, a person is facing life in prison or by a split sentence of at least 25 years in prison followed by probation for life.
Although these are serious accusations, Hines has only been accused of committing the crimes listed above. An accusation or an arrest is not the same as a conviction. Just because Hines has been accused of a crime does not mean that he is guilty of committing them. It also does not mean that he is not guilty.
The basis of our criminal justice system is the presumption of innocence. This means that an individual is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.