Have You Been Falsely Accused of a Sex Crime in Georgia?
Being charged with a sex crime is a harrowing experience and can result in serious, life-changing consequences. In Georgia, being convicted of rape can result in a sentence of twenty-five years to life in prison. Even convictions for lesser sex crimes may require you to register as a sex offender – possibly for life. Being on the sex offender registry can severely curtail job opportunities and even limit the areas in which you are allowed to live. Furthermore, the social stigma associated with being a convicted sex offender can ruin a person's reputation, make them a pariah in their community, and lead to estrangement from family members.
Having the right Georgia sex crime attorney in your corner can mean the difference between spending decades in jail and/or being a registered sex offender for the rest of your life and being able to get your normal life back. As a woman and a mother, Kimberly Berry understands the heinous nature of sex crimes and the need to punish real sex offenders. She also believes that false allegations of sexual assault can not only ruin the lives of innocent people, but are also harmful to the real victims trying to seek justice. Kimberly is a fierce advocate for the wrongfully accused and is dedicated to fighting unfair charges and clearing her clients' names.
There is Hope if Charged with a Sex Crime in Georgia
With the advent of the Me Too movement, women – and men – have become more willing to report allegations of sexual assault. Unfortunately, as the number of people coming forward increases, the number of false allegations will increase as well. While it is important to hear from alleged victims of sexual assault, those who have been accused also have a right to tell their side of the story. Kimberly understands that being accused of a sex crime in Georgia does not make someone guilty, as she has personally defended numerous clients who have been wrongfully accused.
There are many circumstances in which a false allegation may be made to police. Often, accusations are made during acrimonious divorce or child custody cases, either to gain a better settlement or merely to get revenge on an ex. In other cases, charges may be brought as a result of a misunderstanding, rather than through maliciousness. This is especially true in cases where drugs or alcohol are involved. We recognize that not all cases are black and white; the specific circumstances of a situation must be examined in order to determine where culpability lies.
Kimberly Berry is an experienced Georgia sex crime defense lawyer who has handled numerous cases and advocated for her clients at more than one hundred trials. If she is unable to get your case dismissed or settled to your satisfaction, she will not hesitate to take your case to trial. Our law firm will use its considerable resources to investigate the charges against you. We will determine whether there was improper behavior by the police or prosecutors, look for any inconsistencies in the allegations leveled by the accuser and search for any exculpatory evidence.
Being accused of a sexual assault can be a stressful, disorienting experience. Kimberly will walk you through the legal process, answer your questions, and most importantly, provide you with a vigorous defense. With both your freedom and reputation at stake, you need a strong advocate. Kimberly is experienced in fighting sex crime cases in Georgia and will give your case the attention and expertise it deserves. She will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to address your questions and concerns. The sooner you call her and tell her your side of the story, the sooner she can begin fighting to clear your name.
Kimberly Berry is prepared to contest charges involving a wide range of sex-based crimes, including:
According to Georgia law, rape occurs when a male “has carnal knowledge” of a female “forcibly and against her will” or of a female under the age of ten years. (O.C.G.A. 16-6-1) Carnal knowledge is defined as any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ. Thus, males cannot be victims of rape as defined by the state of Georgia. They can, however, be victims of other sex crimes, such as aggravated sodomy and sexual battery. Forcible sex can involve physical coercion, as well as threats and intimidation. Furthermore, a woman cannot consent if she is incapacitated. It makes no difference under the law if a perpetrator is married to the victim.
A rape conviction carries a substantial penalty. Georgia law calls for a minimum of 25 years in prison, followed by a lifetime on probation. The maximum penalty is life in prison without the possibility of parole. The statute allows for the death penalty, but the Supreme Court struck down the death penalty for rapists in 2008. A person over 21 years old convicted or rape must register as a sex offender for life. Because of the severity in the punishments for a rape conviction, it is your best interest to hire a Georgia Sex Crimes Lawyer.
In Georgia, a person has committed sexual battery when he or she “intentionally makes physical contact with the intimate parts” of another person without their consent. (O.C.G.A. 16-6-22.1) According to the statute, “intimate parts” means the genital area, anus, groin, inner thighs, and buttocks of males and females, in addition to the breasts of a female. A conviction of sexual battery is punished as a misdemeanor of high and aggravated nature. However, a second or subsequent conviction for this crime can be charged as a felony and carries a prison sentence of 1 to 5 years. Sexual battery against a child under 16 years of age is also considered a felony and can result in 1 to 5 years in prison.
Aggravated sexual battery occurs when a person “intentionally penetrates with a foreign object the sexual organ or anus of another person” without their consent. (O.C.G.A. 16-6-22.2) This crime carries a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, followed by a lifetime on probation, and a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The state of Georgia defines sodomy as having occurred when a person “performs or submits to any sexual act involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another.” (O.C.G.A. 16-6-2) This definition includes both oral and anal sex, diverging from the commonly understood meaning of sodomy. Georgia still has a statute on the books making sodomy a crime. However, the Georgia Supreme Court (along with the U.S. Supreme Court) has declared this law unconstitutional, making it unenforceable.
Nevertheless, aggravated sodomy is still very much a crime. Aggravated sodomy occurs when a man or a woman commits sodomy “with force and against the will” of the victim, or with a person under the age of ten years. It does not matter whether the victim is the spouse of the perpetrator. The punishment for aggravated sodomy is a minimum of 25 years in prison followed by a lifetime on parole, and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Georgia law states that a person is guilty of statutory rape when he or she has sexual intercourse with any person under the age of 16 years who is not his or her spouse. (O.C.G.A. 16-6-3) In this case, consent is not an issue; a minor is not able to consent in the eyes of the law. It does not matter if the minor lied about his or her age since statutory rape is a strict liability criminal offense. For those under the age of 21 convicted of statutory rape, the statute calls for a punishment of 1 to 20 in prison. However, those over 21 are subject to a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison and mandatory sex offender registration.
There is an exception to these sentencing guidelines, in the form of the so-called “Romeo and Juliet” laws. The state of Georgia views sexual intercourse between young people close in age as a less severe crime. If the victim is between 14 to 16 years of age and the perpetrator is either 18 years old or no more than 4 years older than the victim, the offense will be charged as a misdemeanor. A conviction can result in up to 1 year in prison, probation, fines, and/or community service.
In Georgia, the crime of child molestation occurs when a person performs “any immoral or indecent act to or in the presence of or with” a child under the age of 16 years with the intent to “arouse or satisfy the sexual desires” of themselves or the child. (O.C.G.A. 16-6-4) A person can also be charged with this crime if they transmit images, via an electronic device, of someone “engaging in, inducing, or otherwise participating in” child molestation.
The penalty for child molestation can hinge on whether the person is a repeat offender. The statute calls for someone convicted of a first offense of child molestation to be sentenced to 5 to 20 years in prison and to receive counseling. In the case of a second or subsequent conviction, a sentence of 10 to 30 years is prescribed or, in some instances, life in prison. As with statutory rape, lesser penalties are mandated when the victim and perpetrator are close in age. If the victim is 14 to 16 years old and the accused is 18 or younger and no more than 4 years older than the victim, the crime is charged as a misdemeanor.
The crime of aggravated child molestation occurs when a person commits an act of child molestation that physically injures the victim or involves sodomy. A conviction for this crime carries a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison followed by probation for life and a maximum of life imprisonment. Aggravated child molestation can be charged as a misdemeanor if the following conditions are met: 1) the victim is at least 13 years old; 2) the perpetrator is 18 or younger and no more than 4 years older than the victim; and 3) the basis of the charge involves an act of sodomy.
A separate but related crime is “enticing a child for indecent purposes.” This offense occurs when a person “solicits, entices, or takes” a child under 16 years old to any place “for the purpose of molestation or indecent acts.” (O.C.G.A. 16-6-5) A conviction for child enticement carries a sentence of 10 to 30 years in prison. This crime may be charged as a misdemeanor if the victim is between 14 to 16 years old and the perpetrator is 18 or younger and no more than 4 years older than the victim.
Sexual Assault by Persons with Supervisory or Disciplinary Authority
The state of Georgia has declared it unlawful for people who hold certain positions of power to engage in sexual contact with those under their care or supervision. (O.C.G.A. 16-6-5.1) The state believes that authority figures such as school administrators, psychotherapists, and law enforcement agents are in a position to sexually exploit those whom they hold power over. You can be charged with sexual assault in the following situations:
- You are a teacher, principal, or other school administrator and you engage in sexual contact with someone enrolled at your school (to whom you are not married).
- You are an employee or agent of a probation or parole office and engage in sexual contact with a probationer or parolee under your office's supervision.
- You are an employee or agent of a law enforcement agency and engage in sexual contact with someone detained by or in the custody of any law enforcement agency.
- You are an employee or agent of a hospital and engage in sexual contact with a patient or someone being detained at that hospital.
- You are an employee or agent of a correctional facility, juvenile detention facility, a facility providing services to the disabled, or a facility providing child welfare and youth services and engage in sexual contact with a person in the facility's custody.
- You are an actual or purported practitioner of psychotherapy who engages in sexual contact with someone subject to your treatment or counseling.
- You are an employee, agent or volunteer at certain licensed health clinics and assisted living homes and engage in sexual contact with someone admitted to or receiving services from the facility.
Consent is not a defense in these cases. The unequal power dynamic in these relationships means that the state considers legal consent impossible. A person convicted of sexual assault faces a prison sentence of 1 to 25 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000. Anyone who commits sexual assault against a child under the age of 16 faces 25 to 50 years in prison. However, the crime can be charged as a misdemeanor if the victim is 14 to 16 years old and the perpetrator is 18 or younger and no more than 4 years older than the victim. If you have been charged with sexual assault, it is in your best interest to hire a Georgia sex crimes attorney.
In Georgia, a person commits the crime of public indecency when they perform certain lewd acts in a public place. These acts include: 1) sexual intercourse; 2) “lewd exposure” of sexual organs; 3) “lewd appearance” in a state of partial or total nudity; or 4) a “lewd caress or indecent fondling” of another person. (O.C.G.A. 16-6-8) The first two convictions a person receives for public indecency are considered misdemeanors. However, a third or subsequent conviction will be treated as a felony and carries a 1 to 5-year prison sentence. It should be noted that local laws against public indecency may also apply and can be harsher than Georgia state laws. It is critical to hire an Atlanta sex crimes attorney to help mitigate the consequences.
Georgia law states that the crime of prostitution occurs when a person “performs or offers or consents to perform a sexual act, including but not limited to sexual intercourse or sodomy, for money or other items of value.” (O.C.G.A. 16-6-9) Since the law merely calls for sex to be offered or consented to in return for payment, someone can be charged even if no sexual act takes place. It is also not necessary for money to exchange hands for a crime to have been committed. Prostitution is considered a misdemeanor and can carry a fine of $2,500. However, the penalty can be elevated if the offense takes place within 1,000 feet of a school, place of public worship, playground, or recreational center used primarily by children.
While the state criminalizes the behavior of sex workers, they look more harshly upon those who run the “business” side of the sex trade (i.e., pimps, human traffickers). The crime of pimping has occurred when a person 1) offers or agrees to procure a prostitute for someone; 2) offers or agrees to arrange a meeting for the purpose of prostitution; 3) directs or transports someone to a place for the purpose of prostitution; 4) receives money or other things of value from a prostitute, knowing it was earned in whole or part from prostitution; or 5) “aids or abets, counsels, or commands another” to commit prostitution or “aids or assists in prostitution where the proceeds or profits derived therefrom are to be divided on a pro rata basis.” (O.C.G.A. 16-6-11)
A person commits the crime of pandering when he or she “solicits a person to perform an act of prostitution” on his or her own behalf or on behalf of another person or “knowingly assembles persons at a fixed place for the purpose of being solicited” to perform acts of prostitution. (O.C.G.A. 16-6-12) A person can be charged with keeping a place of prostitution if they have control over the use of any “place or conveyance which would offer seclusion or shelter” for acts of prostitution if he or she “knowingly grants or permits the use of such a place for the purpose of prostitution.” (O.C.G.A. 16-6-10)
Pimping, pandering and keeping a place of prostitution tend to be punished more harshly than prostitution. They are considered “high and aggravated” misdemeanors, but can become felonies if certain aggravating circumstances are involved (i.e., forcing someone into prostitution, pimping a minor). In those cases, punishments can range from 5 to 20 years in prison and a fine of $2,500 to $10,000. An additional fee of $2,500 will be assessed if the crime was committed within 1,000 feet of any school, public place of worship, playground, or recreational center used primarily by children. Those convicted of pimping minors may also have any of their assets derived from or intended to facilitate prostitution forfeited to the state. Those convicted of pandering must have a notice of their conviction (complete with mug shot) placed in the local newspaper and are required to submit to sexually-transmitted disease testing – both at their own expense.
Prostitution and related crimes can carry negative connotations in the community. If you have been charged with a sex crime in Atlanta, contact Kimberly now. She understands the impact a conviction will have on your life and will work to make the affect as minimal as possible.
The crime of solicitation involves seeking to hire someone to commit illegal acts. This includes seeking sexual services for hire. Soliciting a prostitute for sexual acts is considered a misdemeanor. However, enhanced felony penalties can be imposed on those who solicit underage sex, including prison terms and a fine of $1,000 to $5,000.
Georgia law defines solicitation of sodomy as occurring when someone “solicits another to perform or submit to an act of sodomy.” (O.C.G.A. 16-6-15) It is charged as a misdemeanor. However, if the offense involves solicitation of a minor, it is considered a felony and may result in a prison sentence of 5 to 20 years and a $2,500 to $10,000 fine.
The offense of masturbation for hire occurs when a person, including practitioners of massage or physiotherapy, “erotically stimulates the genital organs of another, whether resulting in orgasm or not, by manual or other bodily contact exclusive of sexual intercourse or by instrumental manipulations for money or the substantial equivalent thereof.” (O.C.G.A. 16-6-16) This crime is considered a misdemeanor. It is also a crime to give massages to any person in a “building, structure, or place used for the purpose of lewdness, assignation, prostitution, or masturbation for hire.” (O.C.G.A. 16-6-17)
As defined by Georgia law, incest occurs when a person engages in sexual intercourse or sodomy with someone they know they are related to, either by blood or marriage. (O.C.G.A. 16-6-22) This includes sexual relations between a parent and child or stepchild, between siblings (including half-siblings), between a grandparent and a grandchild, between an uncle and a niece or nephew, or between an aunt and a niece or nephew. A conviction for incest carries a prison sentence of 10 to 30 years. However, if the incest involves a child under the age of 14 years, the penalty rises to 25 to 50 years in prison.
Under Georgia law, the crime of necrophilia is committed when a person performs a sexual act on a dead human body “involving the sex organs of the one and the mouth, anus, penis, or vagina of the other.” (O.C.G.A. 16-6-7) A conviction for this crime carries a sentence of 1 to 10 years in prison.
Georgia Sex Offender Registry Removal
Convictions for many crimes in Georgia, including rape, statutory rape (for those over 21), aggravated sexual battery, child molestation, and child pornography mandate registration as a sex offender. Inclusion on the sex offender registry can have wide-ranging, serious repercussions on one's life. A person who has completed their sentence and paid their debt to society may still face crippling restrictions on where they can live and work, along with a heavy social stigma. For example, a registered sex offender may be barred from residing within 1,000 feet of any school, church, park, child care facility, public library, recreational center, school bus stop, community swimming pool, or basically any area where children congregate. They can also be barred from working or volunteering at those places or even working at an establishment within 1,000 feet of them. Even when a workplace is found that is not near any school, church, community center, library, or park, employers are often unwilling to hire a sex offender. Those who try to get around these problems by failing to register face stiff penalties. A conviction for failing to register as a sex offender carries a sentence of 1 to 30 years in prison for a first conviction and 5 to 30 years for subsequent convictions. Obviously, these burdensome rules can – and often do – lead to homelessness, unemployment, and a return to prison.
While the sex offender registry was initially created to warn communities about dangerous predators likely to repeat, in reality, it has become a massive list containing both dangerous criminals and minor offenders who pose no risk to the public. Recognizing this problem, the Georgia legislature passed a bill in 2010 reforming the state's sex offender registry law. It gave people the right to petition for removal from the list, acknowledging that each case should be judged on its own merits.
A judge can now review an individual's case and remove them from the registry, provided they meet specific requirements. A person has a good chance of success if they can demonstrate that they are unlikely to reoffend and are classified as low risk by the Registration Review Board of Georgia. A judge is likely to consider many factors, including whether the offender has had any subsequent convictions, whether the victim was physically harmed or a weapon was used during the commission of the crime, and whether the petitioner has engaged in activities similar to the crime for which he or she was convicted.
There are many steps involved in successfully petitioning for removal from the sex offender registry. The rules are complicated, and it is nearly impossible for the average person to navigate the system alone. It is critical to have a persistent, knowledgeable advocate to guide you through the process. Kimberly Berry will do everything she can to help you get your life and your reputation back if charged with a sex crime in Georgia.
Georgia Sex Crimes Defenses
Many clients believe their situation is hopeless and nothing can be done. There are always Georgia Criminal Defenses that can apply to your case. Kimberly Berry will thoroughly examine all the evidence in your case to determine which legal arguments are the most appropriate for your situation.
Some arguments that Kimberly has used to obtain a favorable outcome for her clients include:
Actual Innocence: Being in the wrong place at the wrong time sometimes results in criminal charges. Police officers and victims make mistakes, and Kimberly Berry can help prove your innocence as your sex crime lawyer in Georgia.
Affirmative Defenses to Certain Sexual Crimes: There are certain crimes for which the affirmative defense of coercion or deception is appropriate.
Alibi: An alibi that others can verify is a tremendous benefit in your case. Kimberly has seen numerous people wrongfully charged with a crime and an alibi has been able to prevent prosecution.
Consent: Multiple sex crimes in Georgia require that the alleged act was committed without consent from the victim. Any evidence that the victim did in fact consent to the action would negate the charge. If this applies to your case, Kimberly Berry will gather evidence to reflect this.
Mistaken Identity: A person who was a victim of a sex crime may undergo severe stress from the incident. If you were picked out of a lineup as the perpetrator, you need a Georgia Sex Crime Attorney immediately. The victim may have chosen the wrong person because they were unsure and you fit the general description. We will work hard to make sure you do not have to serve the punishment for a crime you didn't commit.
Contact Kimberly Berry Today to Protect Your Rights and Your Future
If you have been falsely accused of a sex crime in Georgia, you need the very best representation. A conviction will carry significant penalties now and throughout your life. Kimberly has extensive criminal defense experience and can help you now. She wants to make sure your case receives the attention it deserves. She understands that being charged with a sex crime can be overwhelming, and she wants to help you. Contact the best Sex Crime Attorney in Georgia now.