When it comes to understanding the laws related to sexual offenses in different jurisdictions, it’s crucial to be well-informed and aware. In this comprehensive article, we will delve deep into the legal implications of a term that’s often misunderstood: statutory sodomy.
Is there a difference between attempted statutory sodomy and statutory rape? That is what we will try to discuss.
Our focus will be on the state of Missouri, where the definitions and penalties surrounding this offense are distinctly outlined. So, what is statutory sodomy?
Defining Statutory Sodomy
Statutory sodomy, in the simplest of terms, refers to sexual acts involving a minor that are considered illegal, irrespective of whether the minor consents or not. This law is based on the premise that individuals under a certain age lack the legal capacity to give informed consent to sexual activities.
In Missouri, statutory sodomy delineates certain “deviant” sexual behaviors with a minor, encompassing acts other than traditional sexual intercourse. This offense is treated severely under Missouri laws, with potential repercussions including life imprisonment.
Statutory Sodomy: Missouri Law
According to the Missouri Revised Statutes §566.062, statutory sodomy in the first degree is committed if an individual engages in deviate sexual intercourse with a person less than fourteen years of age. “Deviate” in this context refers to sexual acts that are different from traditional sexual intercourse, such as oral or anal sex.
For individuals over 21, engaging in deviate sexual intercourse with someone under 17 years constitutes second-degree statutory sodomy under Missouri law.
Penalties for Statutory Sodomy in Missouri
First-Degree Statutory Sodomy
In Jefferson City, Missouri, and other parts of the state, first-degree statutory sodomy charges can result in severe penalties. If convicted, the offender may face life imprisonment or a minimum five-year prison term. If the charges are aggravated, the term of imprisonment could extend to no less than 10 years.
Second-Degree Statutory Sodomy
Second-degree sodomy, a class D felony in Missouri, can lead to up to seven years in prison or a year in county jail. Moreover, those convicted may also face fines up to $10,000.
Implications of a Sexual Crime Conviction
A conviction for any sexual crime, including statutory sodomy, can have far-reaching effects on one’s life. Besides the evident legal penalties, the accused might lose their job and face difficulties in finding housing. The societal stigma associated with sexual offenses can strain friendships, professional relationships, and family ties.
Furthermore, if convicted, the person would be required to register as a sex offender, thereby making their criminal record public.
The Importance of Legal Representation
Given the severity of the charges and the potential consequences, it’s of paramount importance for anyone charged with statutory sodomy in Missouri to seek professional legal counsel. Criminal courts in Missouri often show little leniency towards those accused of sex crimes, making a strong defense strategy crucial.
Changes in Missouri’s Statutory Sodomy Laws
Over time, Missouri’s laws on statutory sodomy have undergone changes for greater clarity. A significant change was the addition of Section 566.125, effective from January 1, 2017, which provides sentencing for repeat or predatory sexual offenders.
Under this provision, an individual may be deemed a “persistent sexual offender” following a previous conviction of a sex crime and sexual assault in Missouri. A “predatory sexual offender” is identified as someone with multiple sexual offense convictions or at least two victims.
If that is the case, that person is put into the sex offender registry.
Related Criminal Acts in Missouri
Missouri’s legal system recognizes several criminal acts connected to statutory sodomy. These include:
- Molestation: Or otherwise known as child molestation, it involves sexual contact with a minor under the age of 17, excluding intercourse or sodomy. Penalties increase as the victim’s age decreases
- Teacher/Student Relations: Any sexual relations between a teacher and a student are illegal, regardless of the student’s age. This law also applies to school employees, officials, volunteers, and contractors
- Child Enticement: Inviting or asking a child under 15 to engage in sexual activity is illegal in Missouri. Misrepresenting one’s age to a minor on the internet is also considered a crime under Child Enticement Laws
Defenses Against Statutory Sodomy Charges
Several defenses can be presented in a case involving statutory sodomy charges in Missouri. These include:
- Mistake of Age: If the defendant genuinely believed the minor was over 17 (in cases of second degree statutory sodomy), and the victim was at least 14, this defense could be considered
- Affirmative Defense of Marriage: If the defendant was legally married to the minor, an affirmative defense may be made for the sexual act
- The Age of the Defendant: In cases where both parties were in a romantic relationship and were between 14 and 21, certain exemptions might apply. This is often referred to as the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ exception
- Case-Specific Factors: Other factors, such as missing elements in the prosecutor’s case or rules affecting evidence collection, may be considered in the case of sexual misconduct
The consequences of attempted statutory sodomy charges in Missouri can be life-altering. Therefore, if you or a loved one is facing such charges, it’s vital to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. It’s important to have someone who can listen to your side of the story and defend you against all charges.