Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

January 21, 2019

What is Institutional Sexual Assault and its Punishments?

By Brian Manchester

18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3124.2§ defines Institutional sexual assault.

Institutional sexual assault specifically applies to sexual contact between two individuals who have a specific relationship. The law includes out many individuals who may be charged with this offense, including employees of the following:

  • Department of Corrections or another correctional authority.
  • Juvenile detention facilities run by the state or county
  • Youth forestry camps, Youth development centers.
  • Groups homes or other residential facilities that serve youth.
  • Mental health facilities. Employees of any of these institutions may be charged with institutional sexual assault if they have sexual contact with a resident, patient, or inmate of the facility in which they work.

Employees of these institution may be charged with ISA if they’ve had sexual contact contact with a resident, patient, or inmate of the facility where they work.

Punishments for Institutional Sexual Assault

Punishments for Pennsylvania institutional Sexual Assault can include:

  • Jail or prison up to 7 years.
  • Fine from $2,500 to $15,000.

The punishments for ISA are rather severe. This is because the employees are responsible for the safety and welfare of those they deal with. In most cases, the person who is sexually assaulted is unable to leave the facility, adding to the severity of the chargers.

Examples of Institutional Sexual Assault Charges

In 2018, Lackawanna County Prison recently had a high profile case where 7 current and former Correctional Officers were charged with Institutional Sexual Assault (among other crimes) of inmates occurring over a period of several years. The guards allegedly used their positions of authority to coerce the women into performing sex acts on them in multiple locations including cells and utility closets. The guards promised the women things like extra phone time, food and cigarettes.

In 2017, a female prison guard was also charged with, and convicted of, institutional sexual assault. A 42 year old Chambersburg woman pled guilty and stated that she touched a male inmate’s in his 20’s genitals. She was sentenced to 2 months of incarceration and 4 months of electronic monitoring.

If Charged, Call an Experienced Lawyer

If you find yourself, or a loved one finds themselves accused of Institutional Sexual Assault, it is crucial to call a Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. For a Free Strategy Session, contact Manchester & Associates immediately to begin building the defense against these charges. We want to help.

 

Posted in: Criminal Defense Blog , Sex Crimes ,

December 4, 2018

Child Pornography Charges in Pennsylvania

By Brian Manchester

Photographing, filming and possessing child pornography are prohibited by Pennsylvania state law, as well as federal law. Pennsylvania prohibits the photographing, videotaping, depicting on a computer or filming of children under the age of 18 engaging in a sexual act or simulating such an act. Conviction for this offense constitutes a second degree felony and may carry a sentence of imprisonment for up to ten years.

The dissemination of photographs, videotapes, computer depictions and films depicting children under the age of 18 engaging in a sexual act or the simulation of such an act is also prohibited under Pennsylvania statute. Those convicted for this offense will be punished for a felony of the third degree and will face up to five years’ imprisonment.

Possession of Child Pornography in Pennsylvania

Possession of child pornography is also illegal in Pennsylvania. Intentionally viewing or knowingly possessing child pornography violates state law and anyone found to do so will be guilty of a third-degree felony. Pennsylvania has increased the punishment for the possession and dissemination of child pornography. The offense gravity scores have increased and there are now enhancement added to the base offense gravity score after so many images are possessed. What is worse is each single picture or video can be sentenced separately. Unlike the federal system where sentence is determined in part by the quantity of pictures possessed, Pennsylvania can charge for each individual picture. Someone possessing dozens of pictures in theory could receive a de facto life sentence.

Collateral Consequences of a Conviction

An accusation alone related to child pornography can severely damage one’s life due to the stigma surrounding these crimes. Other than the possibility of significant state or federal sentences,  Pennsylvania also has mandatory sex offender registration for child pornography charges under Meghan’s Law. Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law, 42 Pa.C.S § 9799.32(1) and § 9799.67(1), requires the State Police to create and maintain a registry of persons who reside, or is transient, work/carry on a vocation, or attend school in the state and who have either been convicted of, entered a plea of guilty to, or have been adjudicated delinquent of Certain Sexual Offenses in Pennsylvania or another jurisdiction.

Pursuant 42 to Pa.C.S. § 9799.28 and § 9799.63, the State Police established a website to provide information to the public on registered sexual offenders who reside, or are transient, attend school, or are employed/carry on a vocation, within the state of Pennsylvania. This means that a child pornography conviction will follow you for the rest of your life, as the information about your case, as well as where you live at any given time, is easily accessible to the public.

What Can You Do If Charged with Child Pornography Charges in Pennsylvania?

If you or a loved one are facing Child Pornography charges in Pennsylvania, it is important to contact an criminal defense lawyer for legal counsel as soon as possible. For a Free Strategy Session to begin building a defense against these charges, call Manchester & Associates at (888) 994-7616. We want to help you.

Posted in: Child Pornography , Criminal Defense Blog , Sex Crimes ,

October 2, 2018

Pennsylvania is Fighting to Change Statute of Limitations Laws

By Brian Manchester

Sex Crimes Statue of Limitations – You Only Have So Much Time To Report It

The purpose of a statute of limitations is to ensure claims are brought within a certain time period. It does not matter how legitimate the charge is, or how clear the evidence is…if the statute of limitations has expired, the claim cannot be brought. Clock representing the time of statute of limitations.

For example, Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for trespass is 2 years. If you filmed your neighbor trespassing on your property, made a DVD of the video, but waited 2 years and 1 day to bring the claim, the claim will be barred by the statute of limitations even though you have caught your neighbor red-handed.

The current issue in Pennsylvania right now pertains to sex crimes. Right now, the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania permits victims of child sex abuse to come forward with criminal allegations until they are 50 years old. As for civil claims, the alleged victim must bring the claim before they are 30 years old.

PA State Politicians Proposing New Laws For Victims of Sex Abuse

In lieu of a report published by Attorney General Josh Shapiro, which found 301 priests committed sexual abuse against children in the past, politicians in Pennsylvania are proposing to add a two-year window for victims of previous sex abuse. This window would allow alleged victims to file claims retroactively, regardless of their current age, or how long ago the sexual abuse occurred.

Right now, only 2 of the 301 priests identified have been charged, given the current statute of limitations has expired in all other cases.

Opposition to New Laws

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference opposes any attempt to modify the current laws regarding the current statute of limitations. The reason being is thousands of Pennsylvania residents have claimed they were sexually assaulted by Catholic priests while they were children.

Thus, if Pennsylvania modified the current law to allow those alleged victims to come forward with sexual assault allegations, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference would be forced to defend themselves against countless sexual assault allegations.

Some politicians that agree the current statute of limitations should not be modified reason that most of the sex crimes were committed several years ago, and the Catholic Church has since instituted reforms to prevent any further sexual abuse.

New Laws May Allow Frivolous Sex Abuse Accusations

In addition, the window would allow claims to be brought regardless of when they were committed. Those who oppose the window say this is problematic, given it is very difficult to defend claims from the 1940s or 50s, and the majority of priests who committed the crimes are dead. Nevertheless, the modern trend seen in other States is to abolish statutes of limitations for the criminal prosecution of crimes related to child sex abuse.

If you or someone you know has questions about statutes of limitations in Pennsylvania, Brian Manchester has extensive training in criminal defense and has been practicing criminal law for 18 years, and can be contacted at 1-800-243-4878.

Posted in: Criminal Defense Blog , Sex Crimes ,

July 10, 2017

Megan’s Law Offenders In Pennsylvania And Their First Amendment Rights

By Brian Manchester

Are you a registered Megan’s Law Offender in Pennsylvania? If you have been convicted of or are being charged with a sex crime in Pennsylvania this is important information about your First Amendment rights.

While reading the American Bar Association Journal today I came across an interesting article on the rights on the first Amendment in our US Constitution and how powerful this right is. A recently decided US Supreme Court decision illustrated this. PACKINGHAM v. NORTH CAROLINA No. 15–1194. Argued February 27, 2017—Decided June 19, 2017.

There is a law in North Carolina that makes it a felony to access the internet/websites that have any social media connection for convicted individuals who also had to become registered sex offenders. This law included individuals who had completed all other aspects of their sentencing other than the registration requirement.

The Court stated: In sum, to foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights. It is unsettling to suggest that only a limited set of websites can be used even by persons who have completed their sentences. Even convicted criminals—and in some instances especially convicted criminals—might receive legitimate benefits from these means for access to the world of ideas, in particular if they seek to reform and to pursue lawful and rewarding lives.

It is well established that, as a general rule, the Government “may not suppress lawful speech as the means to suppress unlawful speech.” Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U. S., at 255. That is what North Carolina has done here. Its law must be held invalid.

How will this decision affect cases in Pennsylvania? Can the Courts still impose restrictions when an individual is still on probation? These questions still remain and will have to be figured out through litigation here in Pennsylvania.

If you, your son, daughter, loved one in Pennsylvania has been arrested for a crime in state or federal court in Pennsylvania you need legal representation. Here at Manchester and Associates, we represent people across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For a free consultation we can be contacted at 1-800-243-4878.

Posted in: Sex Crimes ,