Georgia Child Molestation Charges

Child molestation charges in Georgia carry some of the toughest prison sentences of any charges under the laws of the state and prosecutors are now well trained in prosecuting these crimes. If you have been accused of child molestation or related crimes, it is imperative that you have a team of lawyers dedicated and knowledgeable in defending these charges. At Zeliff | Watson, our trial team has over 30 combined years of experience and the contacts to proactively defend your case both in and outside the courtroom.

What defines “child molestation” in Georgia?

Georgia child molestation laws are found under OCGA 16-6-4 and related sections of the law. The law prohibits performing any immoral or indecent act to or in the presence of a child under 16 years old, with the intent to arouse the sexual desires of the adult or child. Typically, it is for a jury to decide whether the act done was with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of the adult or child, as child molestation is a specific intent crime. Child molestation can also be committed by transmitting sexually explicit material to a child under 16 years old.

Aggravated child molestation is defined as any act of child molestation that either injures or involves an act of sodomy against a child under 16 years of age.

Child molestation carries a 5 to 20 year mandatory prison sentence, while aggravated child molestation requires at least a 25 year prison sentence, with life on probation.

Are any child molestation charges misdemeanors?

Georgia does have misdemeanor child molestation charges, or so called “Romeo & Juliet” laws. These laws are designed to be less punitive for young adults and minors, where both parties are relatively close in age to each other. Generally, if someone charged with child molestation is no older than 18, and the other party is at least 14, the prosecutor has the discretion to charge the crimes as a misdemeanor. Additionally, juvenile courts can also prosecute similar sex crimes for those under 17 years old. Note: in Georgia, 17 year olds are considered adults and subject to misdemeanor and sometimes felony sex crime laws.

 

Is prison time absolutely required on child molestation charges?

In Georgia, prosecutors do have the authority to deviate from the minimum prison terms on child molestation cases, assuming the judge would accept the change and sign off on it. Certain factors must be met in order to deviate or depart from the minimum guidelines under Georgia law. We know these factors and know how to assess whether or not your case would likely be eligible for such a downward deviation.

Factors include:

  • No prior convictions of sexual offenses
  • No deadly weapon or dangerous device was used

  • No similar acts have ever occurred

  • No intentional physical harm was suffered during the crime

  • The victim was not transported during the crime

  • The victim was not physically restrained

 

What assessments are usually done in child molestation cases?

In child molestation cases, psychosexual and risk assessments and evaluations are usually required pursuant to court order while on probation, along with other terms and conditions especially developed for sex offender cases. Additionally, if you are sentenced to any time in custody, the Dept. of Corrections will provide sex offender treatment.

A standard psychosexual evaluation consists of scaled inventories (tests), an interview and forensic evaluation, a life history, interviews with family and close friends, communication with you attorney, and a review of police and supplemental reports. The primary purpose of the psychosexual evaluation is to assess the risk to commit a new sexual offense, along with other pertinent sexual deviancy traits.

Along with a psychosexual assessment, in Georgia, the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board evaluates all cases for purposes of risk assessment classification once a final plea or disposition is entered. This review will, along other things, determine the registration requirements for someone classified as a sex offender and put on the registry in Georgia.

 

Where does my defense of these charges begin?

Defending against such serious charges, or having a loved one facing these types of allegations can seem overwhelming and helpless, however, the right defense team can make a difference. Being proactive, investigating the case thoroughly, and keeping an open line of communication with the courthouse are all essential elements of a good defense in child molestation cases; and our team knows each and every step to take.

From our initial consultation, we will discuss the steps that should be taken in your case to properly investigate and come up with our next steps in your defense. Waiting months until a child molestation indictment is handed down is not a good strategy, especially if a bond has not been set or is otherwise not affordable due to being so high.

 

Why should I consult with Zeliff | Watson about this case?

At Zeliff | Watson, we have a combined 30+ years of experience almost exclusively in criminal defense work. Our attorneys not only cover the Atlanta and Forsyth County areas, but all north Georgia courts. We have experience in just about every State and Superior Court north of Atlanta.

If you or someone you know is dealing with allegations of child molestation, give us a call today to have a confidential discussion about the case. We can be reached 24/7 at: (770) 676-1340, or by filling out a secure contact form on our site.

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