Child Molestation Charges in Georgia
For over twenty years, our firm has successfully defending people who were falsely accused of child molestation and other sex offenses relating to children.
Child molestation charges are obviously very serious, and can be one of the most difficult criminal cases to properly defend. Our firm has decades of experience in winning these cases at trial. We have developed an effective approach to these cases through the use of qualified exerts and investigators, proven defense theories, and unmatched persistence to help our clients respond to false allegations of child molestation.
We have won “not guilty” verdicts for clients charged with child molestation and aggravated child molestation in courts across Georgia, and have convinced prosecutors to dismiss charges when the allegations were not supported by sufficient evidence.
In this video, Page Pate explains child molestation laws in Georgia and how our firm helps defend people accused of these crimes.
What is Child Molestation?
Under Georgia law, child molestation is when a person does any “indecent or immoral act” to, with, or in the presence of a child under the age of 16 with the intent to satisfy the sexual desires of the child or the offender. A person does not have to actually have sexual intercourse with a child to commit the offense of child molestation. Indeed, almost any behavior that is sexual can result in child molestation charges if the person is engaging in the behavior around a child.
A person convicted of child molestation for the first time will receive a prison sentence of at least 5 years and up to 20 years. The mandatory minimum sentence is doubled to 10 years if it is the person’s second conviction for this offense. Of course, the person will also be required to register as a sex offender.
What is Aggravated Child Molestation?
Aggravated child molestation is the same thing as child molestation, plus one of two additional elements. The “immoral or indecent act” must either physically injure the child or involve some form of sodomy (oral or anal sex).
Strangely, Georgia law provides much stiffer punishment for a person who is convicted of having any kind of oral sexual contact with a child than if that person had engaged in sexual intercourse with the child. A person convicted of aggravated child molestation for the first time faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and can be sentenced to prison for life. Registration as a sex offender is mandatory for someone convicted of aggravated child molestation.
Defending Against Child Molestation Charges
Defending allegations of child molestation is often a complicated and lengthy endeavor. Among the first steps is to examine the statements made by the alleged victim or witnesses for any inconsistencies and the circumstances under which the statements were made. Inconsistent statements or a failure by law enforcement to follow standard protocol in attaining statements are indicators that an allegation is false. Children are exceptionally prone to suggestibility and coercion by adults or other children. Police officers or social workers not trained in the practice of interviewing children often extract statements that are exaggerated or purely fabricated. The way questions are phrased may lead to inaccurate responses. In many cases, these statements may be taped and offered to a jury for their consideration.
Defense counsel should also conduct an investigation into the background of the people involved in the case. The purpose of a background investigation is to search for any motive or explanation as to why the allegations were made. For example, it is not unheard of during a heated divorce for there to be false allegations of molestation. Allegations of molestation are often made by an adult with grievances towards another adult. In fact, there are times when a witness’ testimony regarding a child’s out-of-court statements is simply too unreliable, and a judge will not allow a jury to hear it. In the case of alleged adult victims, the social and legal history of the alleged victim will be examined for any red flags. Accusations are often made based on embarrassment, jealousy, or other emotions when no crime has been committed.
Medical evidence is another common issue raised at trial. With many sex crime allegations, a medical report is produced. It is important for a defense attorney to interview any treating physicians or nurses if possible, since not all the important information is contained within a medical report. Factors such as timing, the degree and type of damage, and physical evidence must be compared with the allegations. An expert witness may be needed to show that the allegations do not match the medical evidence, or that the evidence is benign in nature.
It is important to remember that false allegations can and do lead to convictions. That’s why it is absolutely necessary to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who will defend your rights and fight for your interests. Our firm has successfully represented those falsely accused of child molestation for many years.
If you or someone you know has been falsely accused of child molestation or aggravated child molestation, give us a call and we will let you know if we can help.