Perhaps no other criminal offense is more vilified than the molestation of a child, and child sexual abuse is punished severely in Oklahoma courts. While child molestation and the sexual exploitation of children are expressly forbidden under the law, popular culture and advertising seem to encourage sexual exploitation of children.
Young girls are encouraged to dress provocatively and to act like their older and more "sophisticated" teen idols. Tweens are becoming sexually active at younger and younger ages. But despite the media's sexualization of children, the fact remains that these minors are children, ill-equipped to handle the pressures or manipulation of sex and the loss of their innocence.
When someone is accused of sexually abusing a child, the penalties are immediate. An accusation alone is enough to have a suspected molester removed from his or her home, suspended or fired from work, and ostracized by friends and family. At the mere hint of sexual impropriety, a person is assumed to be guilty by those around him. Hiring an experienced sexual abuse defense lawyer with a track record of successful dismissals and "not guilty" verdicts is critical for preserving your rights during an investigation and any subsequent criminal proceedings.
Child Molestation Laws in Oklahoma
The sexual abuse and exploitation of children are covered in various portions of the Oklahoma criminal code. An individual accused of molesting a child may be charged with one or more of these offenses.
Lewd or Indecent Proposals or Acts to Child Under 16
What many people call "child molestation" is described under Oklahoma law (21 O.S. § 1123) as Lewd or Indecent Proposals or Acts to a Child. Lewd acts with a minor is a felony, and the statutes clearly define several specific actions which constitute lewd or indecent proposals or acts to a child:
- To solicit a minor or propose to a child under the age of 16 to engage in sexual intercourse or illegal sexual activity. Such proposal may be made in verbally, in person, or in writing, and may include computer generated or online solicitation of a minor. The law specifies that it is an offense to make a lewd proposal to an "individual the person believes to be a child under sixteen (16)," which allows undercover investigators with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to act as decoys in online sting operations.
- To "look upon, touch, maul, or feel the body or private parts of any child under sixteen (16) years of age" in any lewd or lascivious manner, including acts of public indecency or immorality, or in an indecent, sexual manner
- To "ask, invite, entice, or persuade" a child to a remote or secluded location with the intent of committing a sex
- To urinate of defecate on a child for the purpose of sexual gratification
- To ejaculate upon or in the presence of a minor under 16
- To cause or force a child to look at another person's private parts, watch a sex act, or look at pornography
- To force a child to touch his or own private parts or the private parts of another person
State law says the above acts are felonious when committed "knowingly and intentionally." Lack of knowledge or lack of sexual intent may be key factors in a lewd molestation defense.
The above described acts, when committed against a person aged 16 or older, are prosecuted as sexual battery.
Lewd or indecent proposals or acts to a child under 16 is a felony punishable by 3 to 20 years in prison if the victim is aged 12 to 15. If the victim is under the age of 12, lewd acts with a child is punishable by aminimum of 25 years in prison and a maximum of life without parole.
If a person convicted of the sexual abuse of a child reoffends and is convicted a second time, he or she will be sentenced to life in prison without parole according to 21 O.S. § 51.1a.
Child Sexual Abuse
Oklahoma law includes sexual abuse of children in its statutes defining child abuse and its consequences. Just as state law provides equal punishments for both actively abusing a child and enabling child abuse, it considers child sex abuse and enabling child sexual abuse to be equivalent crimes. If a parent turns a blind eye to molestation or leaves their child alone with someone he or she knows to be a sex offender or should reasonably know to be a threat to the child, he or she faces the same legal consequences as the abuser.
Sexual abuse is defined in the Oklahoma juvenile code as follows:
"Sexual abuse" includes but is not limited to rape, incest, and lewd or indecent acts or proposals made to a child, as defined by law, by a person responsible for the health, safety, or welfare of the child.
Sex abuse and enabling sex abuse are punishable by a maximum of life in prison. If the abused child is younger than 12 years old, however, the offense carries a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.
Sexual Exploitation of Children
In 10A O.S. § 1-1-105, sexual exploitation is defined as "allowing, permitting, or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution, as defined by law, by a person responsible for the health, safety, or welfare of a child, or allowing, permitting, encouraging, or engaging in the lewd, obscene, or pornographic, as defined by law, photographing, filming, or depicting of a child in those acts by a person responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the child."
If a parent, guardian, or person responsible for a child's well-being allows or forces a child into prostitution or child pornography, he or she faces the same penalties as a person convicted of child sexual abuse or enabling child sexual abuse: a maximum of life in prison, with a minimum of 25 years if the victim is under the age of 12.
Sex Offender Registration for Child Molesters
Lewd or Indecent Proposals or Acts to Child Under 16 and child abuse involving sexual abuse or the sexual exploitation of a child are Level 3 sex offenses according to the state's sex offender risk-level assessment scale. Anyone considered of a Level 3 offense must register for life as an Oklahoma sex offender. Level 3 sex offenders must register with local law enforcement every three months and they are subject to lifelong restrictions on housing, employment, recreation, and other personal freedoms.
Aggressive Sex Abuse Defense Representation
If you are accused of molesting a child or other sex crimes related to children, your entire future is at stake. Act quickly to retain experienced legal counsel and skillful defense representation. Call today or submit the online case review form to schedule your free, confidential case evaluation.
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