Being branded as a pedophile or child molester is among the most disparaging labels a person can receive. Even in a prison hierarchy, child molesters are often considered at the bottom of the ladder. Unfortunately, even an unfounded accusation of impropriety with a child can make a person seem guilty in the eyes of law enforcement and the public, even without evidence of wrongdoing.
In Oklahoma, the age of consent to sexual activity is 16, and sex acts with anyone below the age of legal consent is a crime. Although some young teens are sexually active and behave in an overtly sexual manner, their flirtation or their verbal consent is not a legal defense to lewd acts with a minor.
If you are accused of child sexual abuse or lewd acts with a child under the age of 16, you will face immediate consequences of the accusation, even before you have your day in court. You will likely be arrested and treated with suspicion by police, social workers, family, and friends. You may be denied contact with your own children, even if they are not the victims of the alleged offense. Your first line of defense in the protection of your rights and privileges is to hire an experienced sex crime defense lawyer whose representation strategies are proven effective.
Typically, inappropriate physical or sexual contact with children is referred to as “child molestation.” In Oklahoma, however, the state statutes use different terminology to define various sex crimes against children. The following crimes are among the most frequently charged sex offenses against children:
This page deals with crimes generally referred to as child molestation or lewd molestation. For more information about child pornography or soliciting minors, please refer to our pages dedicated to those offenses.
Child sexual abuse is defined in 10A O.S. § 1-1-105 of the Oklahoma Children and Juvenile Code. According to the statute, sexual abuse is illegal sexual contact or proposals to a child for whom the defendant is responsible:
"Sexual abuse" includes but is not limited to rape, incest, and lewd or indecent acts or proposals made to a child, as defined by law, by a person responsible for the health, safety, or welfare of the child.
The sexual abuse of children is defined in the juvenile code, but it is penalized in the Oklahoma Criminal Code. The statute dealing with child abuse and neglect also deals with sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. In 21 O.S. § 843.5, child sexual abuse and enabling child sexual abuse are penalized equally. The crime is a felony punishable by a maximum of life in prison, and if the victim is under the age of 12, by a minimum of 25 years in prison.
Child sexual abuse, as defined by law, is typically committed by a parent, guardian, or caregiver. However, anyone who has inappropriate sexual contact with a child, regardless of whether or not he or she is responsible for the child’s welfare, may be criminally charged.
Lewd or Indecent Proposals or Acts to a Child under 16 (21 O.S. § 1123)lists a number of illegal acts with minors. These include not only physical acts, but this far-reaching statute also prohibits acts in which there is no physical sexual contact with a child.
A person who knowingly and intentionally performs a lewd act with a minor or makes an indecent proposal to a minor is guilty of a felony punishable by a minimum of three years and a maximum of 20 years in prison. However, if a victim is under the age of 12, the crime is punishable by 25 years to life. A second offense of the sexual abuse of a child is punishable by life in prison without parole.
Both child sexual abuse and lewd acts with minors are Level 3 sex offenses. Being convicted of a Level 3 sex offense requires lifetime sex offender registration upon the completion of the person’s sentence. A registered sex offender faces residency restrictions, loss of professional licensure, the inability to live near or work in a day care, school, or other childcare facility, and more. A sex offender who is a parent will be unable to attend his or her own child’s school events and recreational sports activities.
Other consequences of Oklahoma Sex Offender Registration include GPS monitoring, having “Sex Offender” branded on a driver’s license, public notification of address and offense on the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry, and written permission to attend religious services.
Traditional wisdom says that children do not lie about sexual abuse, and because of this, many men and women are assumed to be guilty of lewd acts or child sexual abuse on the basis of an accusation alone. However, there are several situations in which a person may be wrongfully accused of molesting a child:
Revenge, vindictiveness, and simple confusion can lead to serious consequences for the subject of a false accusation.
At Law Firm of Oklahoma, we understand the toll a sex crime charge can have on your life. We are committed to offering quality legal services to all clients who trust us for legal counsel and representation.
For a free evaluation of your case, call (405) 608-4990 to speak with an attorney equipped to handle the challenges of your case.