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Sex Crime Charges in NYC

The public reacts to sex crime allegations far differently than other alleged criminal acts. You probably already know as much if you’ve already been accused of a sex crime in NYC. Your name may have already been smeared in the news. You may have already noticed whispering around your work or college campus. You may even have been attacked on social media.

That’s why it’s important to talk to a New York City sex crimes attorney as soon as you’ve been accused. There is nothing more important than getting ahead of the charges. Promptly consulting a defense attorney right away may allow you to avoid charges, clear up misunderstandings and/or strongly dispute false claims.

With considerable experience and a record of success in sex-based cases, contact Harlan Protass ASAP. Call 212.455.0335 or submit a request online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Types of Sex Crimes

The penalties and consequences you may face for a sex-offense depends on the nature of the accusations against you. Some of the most common sex offenses charged in New York include the following:

Sexual Assault

Under New York law, sexual abuse in the first, second, or third-degree involves sexual contact without the other person’s consent. The severity varies widely, based on the details. There is also aggravated sexual abuse in the first, second, and third-degree.


Rape involves the forced act of penetrative sexual intercourse. New York law describes rape in the first, second, and third-degree. All three degrees of rape are felonies. This includes statutory rape, which occurs when one person is below the age of consent.

Child Pornography

Defined legally as “sexual performance by a child,” child pornography is broken into separate crimes of promotion of a performance and possession of a performance. You can also be accused of the distribution of child pornography.

New York Sex Crime Penalties

Penalties for sex offenses are generally severe, though they vary depending on the nature of the offense, the details of the sex crime and whether the conduct is charged as a misdemeanor or felony.

For example, first-degree sexual abuse is a class D felony, while second and third-degree sexual abuse are misdemeanors. Likewise, all three degrees of rape are felonies, all of which carry mandatory jail terms. Misdemeanors, by contrast, are punishable by up to a year in jail, though most misdemeanors do not result in sentences involving time behind bars.

Sex Offense Aggravating Factors

Certain circumstances associated with sex offenses may lead to enhanced penalties in New York. These factors can increase the severity of your offense by raising it a class or turning a misdemeanor into a felony. They therefore can also affect your prison time.

Enhanced sex crime penalties may result when the offender used weapons or assaulted multiple victims, caused severe injury to a victim or has previous convictions for felony sex offenses.

NY Sex Offender Registration

If you are convicted of a sex offense in New York, you likely will be required to register as a sex offender under SORA, the Sex Offender Registration Act. You’ll likely remain on the registry for 20 years, but you will be on it for the rest of your life if you are considered high risk.

Advice for Those Accused of Sex Crimes

If you are contacted as part of a sex crime investigation, your priorities are to stay silent and contact an attorney. Don’t talk to the police to “clear matters up,” no matter how much they tell you that you are not a suspect.

Anything you say can hurt you. Only speak to the police (if at all) with an attorney present.

It’s never too soon to hire a criminal defense attorney if you’ve been accused of a sex crime. Expect the prosecutor to pursue your case aggressively. Your attorney will need all the time they can get to build your defense and resolve things in the best possible way.

Sex Crime Defenses to Explore

The defense options obviously depend on the nature of the charges in your case. But your attorney might explore one or more of these defense strategies:

  • Consent. Your defense may be that the alleged victim consented to the sexual encounter but recanted after the fact, perhaps due to embarrassment, societal pressure or anger following rejection.
  • Sexual contact did not occur. If an accused person did not have any sexual contact with the accuser, this is a valid defense to pursue.
  • Mistaken identity. If the crime occurred in a crowded or dark place, it’s possible that the accuser named the wrong person in their complaint.
  • Victim motivation. This is an avenue to explore if the victim’s complaint is motivated by something other than the truth — financial benefit, revenge or an attempt to cover up cheating.
  • Promoting doubt. The responsibility to prove guilt rests with the prosecutor. If your attorney can successfully point out flaws or sow seeds of doubt, that may be a strong enough defense.

Protass Law Can Help

Attorney Harlan Protass has extensive experience in sex crime cases and knows what it takes to advocate for you. We know that your future is at stake, and you deserve a fair chance at having your charges lowered, dismissed or disproven in court.

The best thing you can do is call Protass Law PLLC. We will get to know you and your case. Initially, we’ll try to negotiate to get the charges dropped or reduced. If we’re unable to do so, we will challenge the evidence. And, if necessary, we will tenaciously pursue an acquittal at trial and, at the same time, prepare to minimize the penalties and collateral consequences associated with any conviction.

To discuss how our firm can help you, contact us at 212.455.0335 or complete our online form to schedule a free and confidential consultation.