Queens County Bar Association
Martindale Hubbell - Distinguished 2023

How Is a Sex Crime Defined in New York?

New York does not have a specific definition in the Penal Law for sex crimes per se, but a good way of defining a sex crime is a crime that requires registration under the New York Sexual Offender Registration Act, which is commonly called SORA. That law only applies to anyone who is convicted of various listed sex crimes. There are approximately thirty-to-forty listed sex crimes under New York law. It requires people to register under what can very often be very onerous conditions.

What Are The Common Types Of Sex Crime Cases That You Handle?

We handle all types of sexual offenses. The most serious sex crime cases are the ones involving forcible rape, or particularly cases that involve children. There are charges involving a pattern of sexual behavior with children which can be very serious crimes punishable up to life imprisonment. We handle all cases, even the less serious ones, such as forcible touching or sexual abuse in the third degree, which are misdemeanors that generally involve a small fine, or imprisonment. Nonetheless, all of these crimes can make somebody a sex offender for their entire lives. All sex crimes, even the lower ones, are still considered very, very serious in New York.

How Is A Sex Crime Charge Determined To Be Either A Misdemeanor Or A Felony?

The most serious crimes, such as rape, sodomy, criminal sexual act, various forms of rape, predatory sexual assault and many others, are felonies. For instance, patronizing a prostitute in the second degree, when the prostitute is seventeen years old, or younger, is a felony. Promoting prostitution in the second degree is a felony. Other charges, such as sexual abuse in the third degree, or forcible touching, are less serious misdemeanors. As I said, even the misdemeanors are treated very seriously, particularly in the Queens Criminal Court.

How Do People Generally React To Being Accused Of A Sex Crime?

Anybody who is charged with a sex crime, pretty much knows that this is serious business and that these crimes are generally treated much more severely than most comparable non-sexual crimes. Some of them are very angry, because they feel they have been falsely, or maliciously charged, but all of them are frightened, and with good reasons. There is a lot that has to be addressed in any case involving a sexual crime.

What Steps Does Someone Need To Take If They Have Been Arrested For A Sex Crime?

First, if they have retained an attorney before they were arrested, that may significantly increase the possibility of a favorable disposition, but unfortunately, that is usually not the case. Most defendants are arrested without warning, questioned without an attorney by law enforcement, and then are brought in front of a judge. If possible, they should have an attorney representing them at this appearance, as soon as they are arrested. There are some very strong reasons for that. First of all, if the police have just arrested you, and you have representation, that attorney can keep the police from questioning you, which can be very disastrous for a defendant in any sexual abuse case. Many times, people want to explain themselves, and they think that what they are saying to law enforcement in their defense is helpful, when in actuality, it is not, and this could get them convicted.

If they retain an attorney even before they get to court, that can be very helpful, especially for cases in Queens Criminal Court. Even before appearing in court in Queens County, if a defendant does not yet have an attorney, the prosecutors will attempt to question him. That is very different from anywhere else, at least in New York City. Once again, if you are arrested for a felony in Queens, particularly a sex felony, the district attorney is going to try to question you, even before you get to see a judge. If you have retained an attorney who is familiar with practices in Queens, your attorney will make sure you are not questioned and that you are brought to court for arraignment as quickly as possible.

Once you get to court, it is crucial that your attorney takes the time to learn as much as possible about you and your case, because the district attorney generally will ask for a high bail. A good attorney will be able to keep the bail that is set as low as possible. Particularly in Queens, judges will rarely change the bail once the arraignment judge has set it. Therefore, if the bail is initially set high, you likely will be stuck awaiting trial for many months without being able to get out. It is important to have an attorney right from the beginning of your case, if at all possible.

For more information on Sex Crimes In New York, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (718) 793-5700 today.

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