These offenses are the most difficult to deal with and are almost never eligible for diversionary programs. Sex offenses come with the risk of not only felony convictions and mandatory minimum jail sentences, but also sex offender registration. The penalties are particularly harsh. See below for examples of types of sex offenses.
Possession of Child Pornography
The possession of a photograph of a child (under the age of 16) of a sexual nature is a crime. The thought process of this is that if the possession of the pictures is illegal then those who actually produce these photographs will have fewer people purchasing them (supply and demand theory).
Connecticut has extremely harsh penalties associated with the possession of child pornography, especially in comparison to the federal counterpart and in comparison to Connecticut's other laws against sexual assault.
- Possession of Child Pornography in the Third Degree: Class D Felony, Possession of less than twenty (20) photographs, 1 year mandatory minimum.
- Possession of Child Pornography in the Second Degree: Class C Felony, Possession of more than twenty (20) but less than fifty (50) photographs, 2 year mandatory minimum.
- Possession of Child Pornography in the First Degree: Class B Felony, Possession of more than fifty (50) photographs, 5 year mandatory minimum.
Many times these files are found on a person's computer via peer-to-peer sharing sites and on that basis search warrants are granted for computers using a particular network that downloaded them. These cases are notoriously difficult and rely heavily on persuading the prosecutor to downgrade the charges. This can be done by sending the accuser to a sex offender evaluation whereby an expert opines as to the individual's risk. Other defenses can be explored as well, such as potential viruses that downloaded the images or whether multiple individuals had access to the same computer and/or network and the state attorney is unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt who downloaded the images.
Sexual Assault in the Second Degree
Most often times this charge involves a sexual relationship with a person under the age of 16. Unfortunately, for the purposes of the statute it does not matter whether the accused did not know whether the other party was under 16 or even if the other party lied about his/her age. This is particularly problematic in the modern era where physical sexual development occurs at a much earlier age. The statute puts the onus completely on the over-age party.
If charged with sexual assault in the second degree, the penalty is a mandatory minimum sentence of 9 months. In Connecticut for first time offenders, usually the penalty is in the 3-4 year range. Of course, this depends on the particular characteristics of each offense and an attorney should thoroughly go through all the evidence to make a recommendation. For example, if there is proof that the underage party made affirmative misrepresentations about her age, that may persuade the state attorney to come off of the sexual assault in the 2nd degree charge or may persuade the judge to offer the 9 month mandatory minimum.
For Example, see the following case handled by Attorney Paz: