Defenses to Sex Crimes


to top

Sex crimes are vigorously prosecuted in Pennsylvania with law enforcement and state attorneys using the full extent of their available resources to investigate, collect evidence, and, ultimately, get a conviction. If you’ve been charged with a sex crime, you need to take the case as seriously as the state and exhaust all of your defense options with the help of an experienced Philadelphia sex crimes lawyer.

Sex Crimes Defenses

The ghastly public perception of sex crimes often puts a lot of pressure law enforcement to hold someone accountable. Therefore, getting an experienced and aggressive sex crimes lawyer is crucial to ensure that your rights are protected from police abuse and overzealous prosecution. Fienman Defense in Philadelphia can provide you with a skilled defense attorney, who will work passionately to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

Contact Fienman Defense online or at (215) 839-9529 for an initial case evaluation.


Consent is one of the most often raised defenses in criminal law, including sexual offenses. It is defined specifically under Pennsylvania statute, which indicates that consent can be raised if it negates an element of the offense or precludes the infliction of the harm that the law seeks to prevent. Several sexual offenses in Pennsylvania require the state to prove lack of consent affirmatively. This includes rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, and indecent assault.

The statute also defines instances when consent would be ineffective. These instances include the following:

  • When the consent is given by a person who is legally incapacitated to authorize the conduct charged;
  • When the consent is given by a person who, because of youth, mental illness, or intoxication is unable to make a reasonable judgment as to the nature or harmfulness of the conduct charged; or
  • When the consent is induced by force, duress, or deception.

There are certain sex crimes in which consent is inapplicable. For instance, consent is not a defense if the victim is 13 years old or younger. Additionally, victims who are older than 13, but younger than 16 cannot consent to sexual contact with an adult who is four or more years older and is not married to the victim.

Insanity or Involuntary Intoxication

Insanity is also an available defense to sexual crimes. If a defendant is able to prove that he or she was legally insane during the time that the offense was committed, it may be a valid defense to a conviction. The statute defines legal insanity as the state of mind where the defendant acted without knowing the nature and quality of the conduct or without knowledge that the conduct was wrong. Involuntary intoxication (from having a “spiked” drink or by mistakenly taking hallucinogenic drugs) may also be raised as a defense because it affects the ability to distinguish whether conduct is right or wrong.

Mistake of Age

The Pennsylvania statute provides that a mistake of age may be a viable defense in certain sex crimes, such as unlawful contact with a minor, but only in specific circumstances. If the victim is 14-years-old or older, a defendant may be able to raise this defense by proving that he or she reasonably believed the victim to be older than the age defined in the statute. However, if the victim is younger than 14 years, then mistake of age is never a valid defense.

Contact a Philadelphia Sex Crimes Lawyer with Fienman Defense

There are few other crimes that can cause such harsh and life-long consequences as sexual offenses. Not only does a conviction result in significant jail time, it can also result in permanent damage to your reputation. If convicted, you may have to register as a sex offender, which will almost assuredly impact your future employment, housing, and relationships in a negative way. At Fienman Defense, we will work hard to ensure that all available defenses are explored and that your rights are protected at every turn.

Call Philadelphia sex crimes lawyer Michael Fienman at (215) 839-9529 or online to discuss your options in a free and confidential consultation.