Legal Consequences of Child Molestation

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Child molestation is one of the fastest growing crimes in America today.   Reported cases of sexual abuse and child molestation have grown astronomically over the last few years.   More and more children are coming forward to help bring their abusers to justice.

A Closer Look at Child Molestation

An unknown amount of sexual abuse and child molestation go unreported.  This makes it a difficult crime to pin point specific statistics.  However, there are a few facts about this crime that cannot be disputed.  These facts include:

  • Over 1 million children are sexually abused or molested each year.
  • Most sexually abused children know their abuser.
  • Most abusers are at least a decade older than the children they are abusing.

Studies have also shown that girls are molested more often than boys are, and are more likely to come forward than boys are.

Statute of Limitations Laws and What They Mean

Statute of limitation laws were set in place so that the victim of sexual or abuse or molestation can decide to disclose the abuse once they have had time to grow stronger or mature.  For instance, a young child may not have the mental capacity to realize threats of an abuser will not be carried out – such as, “I will kill your mother if you tell.”  This type of threat may cause a young child to keep quiet about his or her abuse.  However, as time passes, they will eventually realize that they need to tell, that the threats were empty ones.  When this happens, statute of limitations laws fall into place.  In most cases a victim can have their abuser prosecuted up to 10 years after they turn 18.

Legal Penalties/Consequences of this Crime

Legal penalties associated with child molestation and sexual abuse also vary.  Several factors can be taken into consideration when deciding an appropriate penalty for the crime.  These factors often include:

  • Individual state laws
  • Exact nature of the abuse
  • Past criminal history of the convicted

If a person is convicted of this type of crime, the penalties can be steep.  They can carry a prison term ranging from 5 – 30 years.  In some cases a prison sentence will be probated, but not very often.

Consult a Lawyer

Anyone accused of this type of crime should seek the advice of a defense attorney quickly.  The more time an attorney has to make his case, the better chance they have of winning his case.