Virginia law takes sex offenses involving children very seriously. Sex crime allegations, whether true or false, could tarnish your name and destroy your professional or social reputation. You could spend years trying to clear your name as the society is quick to presume you are guilty based on mere accusations.
Section 18.2-370.01 of the Code of Virginia explains the crime of taking indecent liberties by children. Any child below the age of 18 years but above the age of 13 who, with lustful intentions, willfully and knowingly show their sexual parts to another child below the age of 14 years commits the crime of taking indecent liberties with another minor. The accused child subjects themselves to criminal liability under Class 1 misdemeanor.
The law is clear that if your child, who is a minor but older than the victim with five years, touched, felt their genitals with a full view of the plaintiff for sexual gratification or arousal, should similarly face charges as an adult. However, the prosecution must offer proof of the occurrence of lewd activities beyond a reasonable doubt before the judge can prosecute the defendant. Virginia Code 18.2-370.01 takes in any lewd act on sexual parts of the child even though actual intercourse never took place.
If your child or loved one gets charged with indecent liberties with another child, you want to engage the Virginia Criminal Attorney. We have extensive experience in defending clients accused of sex crimes in Fairfax and the Northern Virginia area.
Note that the earlier you find a competent lawyer, the sooner you understand the weight of the allegations against your child or loved one, possible outcomes, and legal defenses. We promise to zero in on winning at trial or even before. The many clients we have worked with in the past have had their cases dropped or penalties lowered.
Legal Definition of Indecent Liberties by Children 18.2-370.01 Per Virginia Law
Under section 18.2-370.01 of the Code of Virginia, a minor, who is between 13 and 18 years, with lustful intent, willfully and knowingly shows their genitalia to another child below 14 years of age, and who is older than the victim by five or more years commits the crime of indecent liberty by children. The accused subjects themselves to criminal liability if they ask or lure the younger minor to show their genital parts to them.
Elements to Indecent Liberties by Children: Virginia Code 18.2-370.01
Often, when someone, whether an adult or minor, is charged with sex offenses involving another minor, the media springs into a guilty judgment. Before you can even make your first appearance in court, your face is all over the television screens and newspapers purporting that you committed the crime.
However, in the Virginian justice system, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you, your child, or a loved one committed the crime through meeting particular elements. The court relies heavily on the child’s testimony on top of elements like:
- The accused was below the age of 18 years and above 13 years during the time of the arrest
- The victim was 14 years and below when the crime occurred
- The defendant was older than the victim by five years or more at the time of the arrest
- The defendant knowingly and willfully took indecent liberties with another child five or years their junior and under the age of 14 with the purpose of arousal or sexual satisfaction. The court has to prove that you had lascivious intents
- The accused knowingly performed any lewd act like showing their genital parts to the other child or requested the younger child to show their genital parts
Possible Penalties for Indecent Liberties by Children
The crime of indecent liberties by children is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia.
What is a Class 1 Misdemeanor in Virginia?
When speaking of Virginia criminal law, you should learn the classification of the charges the prosecution presses. Misdemeanor offenses are categorized into classes, and the most severe are Class 1 misdemeanors. Also, when compared to other classes of misdemeanors, Class 1 misdemeanors attracts the harshest sentencing.
Sentencing, Penalties, and Punishment Imposed on the Convict
Virginia Code 16.1-269.1 allows the courts to prosecute children over the age of 14 years at the time of crime commission as an adult of 18 years and over under certain circumstances. According to Virginia law, the court can prosecute anyone above the age of 13 for the crime of indecent liberties by children. Since Class 1 misdemeanors are the most severe misdemeanors, the juveniles get prosecuted like adults.
If found guilty for violating Virginia Code 18.2-370.01, you could serve jail time in county jail or pay hefty fines. The jury decides on the punishment to impose, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. If the judge sentences you to jail, you could remain in jail for 12 months. You could also pay a fine not exceeding $2,500, or receive both punishments.
Consequences of Violating Virginia Code 18.2-370.01
Committing sex crime such as indecent liberties by another child comes with ill effects towards the present and future life of the accused. If under investigation, the cops believe the child's (victim) testimony, and if your side of the story differs from the accuser's, you get treated as a liar.
Being charged with indecent liberty by children could have a negative impact on your future. For example, when seeking job opportunities after graduation school, many employers might hesitate to offer you a position. If you are already holding a junior position, the charges are enough to have you fired.
Upon conviction, the judge could direct you to register as a sex offender in addition to serving jail time. Here, you could also lose moral support from relatives and many close friends. If you are looking to move out after you reach the age of 18 years, you could have a hard time finding a house if registered as a sex offender as the proprietors perform background checks before renting their property.
Legal Defenses for Indecent Liberties by Children
Several legal defenses could apply to indecent liberties by children’s lawsuits. You need to talk to your criminal defense attorney and know what defenses fit your case best. Legal defenses you could use include:
1. The Victim has a False Memory
There are particular circumstances where a plaintiff could have a false memory concerning a past lewd act. There are also situations where, after therapy, the child could describe the incident differently to what ensued.
2. Victim’s Misidentification
There are situations where sex crime allegations occur owing to the plaintiff’s misidentification of the accused. While the actual crime could have happened, the victim could blame the wrong person. The scenario could occur, especially if the accused and the real perpetrator resemble each other or sound alike. Also, if the victim was under the influence when the sex crime happened, they might not recall the exact details of the occurrence.
3. False Allegations
There exist instances where the plaintiff makes up a scenario concerning a sex crime that never occurred. Often, victims falsely accuse defendants of many reasons like being ashamed of consenting lewd activities before they are adults, feeling ashamed for going against the values and wishes of their parents, avenging after a nasty breakup, or being ashamed of cheating.
4. The Victim was at an Age of Consent
You could argue in court that you believed the victim had reached the age of consent, or you never knew the real age of the victim. Other victims lie that they have reached the age of consent only for the parents to file a lawsuit against you.
5. No Resistance
Under Virginia law, the victim doesn't have to resist or repel the accused of a sex offense to occur. However, you could argue that the victim didn’t cry out against you; therefore, consenting or you presumed the victim consented the sex engagement or lewd activity.
Are There Crimes Related Offenses to Indecent Liberties by Children?
There exist criminal offenses that are related to indecent liberties by children. Usually, the court charges suspects with these crimes in addition to or in place of Virginia Code 18.2-370.01. These include:
Taking Indecent Liberties with Child by Person in Custodial or Supervisory Relationship: Virginia Code 18.2-370.1
Per Virginia law, it is unlawful for persons above the age of 18, who have a supervisory relationship or custodial rights to a child to willfully and knowingly:
- Compel, lure, or ask the minor under their care to fondle or feel the custodian’s genitals. It is also a crime for you to touch or stroke the genitals of the minor.
- Lure, request, or propose to a child under their care to engage in any sexual activity like fellatio, oral sex, or anal sex.
- Show your genitals or sexual parts to the child under their care
- Ask, convince, or force the child under their supervision to show the adult their genital parts
- Convince or lure the minor to engage in sex, sodomy, or feel genital parts of/ with someone else
- Sexually abuse a minor through the touching of their intimate parts like anus, groin, buttocks, or breasts. Per Virginia Code Section 18.2-67.10, sexual abuse occurs when you intentionally arouse, sexually molest or gratify another person
You are also charged with violation of Virginia Code 18.2-370.1 if you have had a similar conviction before. Possible scenarios where this offense occurs are between young teachers and students who are minors, and in workplaces, for example, in the foodservice where supervisors sexually abuse minors who take up entry-level positions.
The severity of the punishment you receive if convicted for violating VC 18.2-370.1 depends on the circumstances surrounding your case. You most likely receive a harsher sentence if you have had similar prior convictions or committed several crimes simultaneously. Per Virginia law, VC 18.2-370.1 is a felony offense. There are two degrees of the crime, namely Class 5 and Class 6 felonies.
- Class 6 felony is a first offense felony, and possible penalties include a fine that doesn’t exceed $2,500 or serving jail time for a period not exceeding five years.
- Class 5 felony carries harsher penalties than Class 6. You are said to commit a Class 6 felony if you have had a VC 18.2-370.1 conviction in the past. Possible sentencing for this felony is a potential fine of an amount not exceeding $2,500 or serving jail time for a period not exceeding ten years
Under Virginia law, VC 18.2-370.1 is considered a statutory charge. That means that the prosecution could press charges against you even if the minor willfully consented to the sexual act. Statutory charges are known to occur when the minor is below the lawful age of consent in Virginia.
With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you could cast doubts against evidence the prosecution presents in court. Legal defenses you could use against your charges are false allegations, especially where a child lies that you, the custodian, took indecent liberties with them. You could use insufficient evidence as a legal defense against your case, especially where the prosecution lacks enough evidence to sustain the allegations.
Penetration of Mouth of the Child with Lascivious Intent: Virginia Code 18.2-370.6
You are said to violate Virginia Code 18.2-370.6 if you are over the age of 18 years, and with lustful intent, you kiss a minor below 13 years on the mouth or willfully penetrate the minor’s month with your tongue.
Virginia law classifies penetration of the mouth of the child with lascivious intent under class one misdemeanor. However, the judges review the circumstances surrounding each case before imposing punishment. The law also considers VC 18.2-370.6 a statutory charge. That means you are charged and convicted even though the minor consented sexual penetration.
If found guilty, you risk paying a fine of an amount not exceeding $2,500 or spending time in jail for not more than a year.
If you get charged wrongly, or you believe so, you must seek services of a reputable criminal defense attorney to build legal defenses. You could dispute the charges using defenses like lack of trustworthy evidence, false allegations, a mistake of fact, or you didn’t commit the offense.
Sex Offenses Prohibiting Entry into School or Other Property: Virginia Code 18.2-370.5
Under Virginia law (Virginia Code 9.1-902), you are needed to register as a sex offender if found guilty of a sexually violent offense and above the age of 18 years. After your registration, per Virginia Code 18.2-370.5, it is a crime for you to enter:
- Any institution of learning including baby care center, private, or public elementary and secondary schools, during school meetings o hours
- Any school vehicle used to ferry children to school per Virginia Code 46.2-100
- Any property whether private or public, if a private or secondary or elementary school is the property for any school-related activity
The law allows you, the sex offender, to enter a school or park where school-sponsored events are happening on exceptional grounds. These include:
- You are a legally registered voter and your sole purpose to enter the elementary of secondary school is to cast your vote
- You are studying in that particular school
- You have the court’s permission to enter the school or property at a specific time. The school board, property owner, or a designee could permit you to access part or entire property too
Other persons who have the jurisdiction to allow you to access the school after you register as a sex offender are an attorney for the commonwealth and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The court needs you to publish in a newspaper for two weeks (once weekly) the time and location of your petition hearing. In the newspaper notice, you are required to put in writing that the clerk of the court could receive your petition no less than five days to the hearing. Afterward, the court could permit you to enter the school under special instructions. The court has the jurisdiction to restrict the part of the property or time you could access it.
You are said to commit a Class six felony if you violate Virginia Code 18.2-370.5. Even though felony crimes are more severe than misdemeanor offenses, Class six felonies are the least severe when speaking of felony classes. If convicted for the Class six felony, you risk paying a fine of not less than $2,500 or serving jail time of a period not below than a year or more than five years. If your crime involved aggravating factors, you risk getting a more severe punishment. In Virginia, the law considers a Class five felony a wobbler. That means per the circumstances surrounding your case, the jury charges you with a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
You are at risk of having some of your privileges and rights in Virginia stripped if convicted for class six felony. For example, you could lose rights to work in a public office, privileges to own a firearm, licenses the state or federal government granted you, and the right to offer or receive loans, the eligibility for some professions.
Job opportunities, both casual and professional, could shrink, or you could also struggle to get a residence. Note that property owners often perform background checks when renting their property, and if registered as a sex offender, you could face challenges obtaining residence.
To gain back your freedom, you need the help of a reputable defense attorney. They should advise on the best defense to use. Legal defenses to Virginia Code 18.2-370.5 could include you did not enter the property holding students, insufficient evidence, or you didn't intend to enter the school. Other legal defenses are you were not aware that the property hosted school-related activities, and mistake of fact.
Taking Indecent Liberties with Children: Virginia Code 18.2-370
You violate Virginia Code 18.2-370 if you are an adult (above the age of 18 years) with lustful intent, who, willfully and intentionally performs acts with any minor of 15 years and below like:
- Showing your genitals to a child or asking any child to show you their genital parts
- Asking, luring, or forcing a child to fondle or touch their genital parts or your sexual parts
- Luring or compelling a child to engage with you in sexual acts like anilingus, cunnilingus, fellatio, intercourse, or any crime against nature as detailed in Virginia Code 18.2-361
- Convincing or proposing to a child to enter any property, automobile, or any place to engage in sexual acts with them
It is a crime per Virginia law for an adult, who, with lustful intent, willfully take the property, cash, or other forms of rewards for consenting or luring a minor to partake in the production of sexually explicit audio-visual material/ child pornography as explained under Virginia Code 18.2-374.1. Here, the court charges you with the Class five felony.
Relatives such as parents, grandparents, or step-parents are guilty of taking indecent liberties with children if they perform sexual activities on them or lure them into engaging in any acts of sexual nature as explained in VC 18.2-370.1.
Taking indecent liberties with a child is a Class five felony in Virginia. If convicted, you could serve jail time for a period between one year and ten years or pay a fine that doesn’t exceed $2,500. The judge has the jurisdiction to choose the severity of punishment to impose, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case.
If the accused is the parent, step-parent, or grandparent, they are said to commit a Class four felony. Usually, if convicted, the suspects could stay in jail for two to ten years or pay a fine of up to $100,000. The judge imposes punishment depending on the compelling factors within the case.
It is always recommendable to seek legal counsel from an experienced lawyer should you find yourself entangled in a lawsuit. Your criminal defense attorney could comb through your case, looking for doubts and building defenses against the prosecution. Possible defenses to VC 18.2-370 are you never committed the crime, insufficient evidence, and false allegations.
Contact a Fairfax Criminal Lawyer Near Me
You need to find legal counsel if your child or loved one is under investigation or facing charges for sex crimes in Virginia. Not only do you need legal counsel but also reliable legal representation against the prosecution and plaintiff.
At Virginia Criminal Attorney, we are devoted to safeguarding children facing sex charges. We have, for many years, helped defendants within this area of practice. Secure your child’s freedom by visiting us for a free consultation and case evaluation. Call us at 703-718-5533 today. We serve Fairfax and the entire Northern Virginia.