Sex Crimes

DC Sex Crimes Lawyer

There are many crimes both federal and local in the District of Columbia related to sex offenses. Some offenses involve acts between adults while other include adults and minor children. Conviction for any sex offense can involve significant jail time, probation, and a requirement to register as a sex offender.

Typical sex crimes charged in DC include first, second, third, and fourth degree sexual assault as well as misdemeanor sexual assault. These crimes can range from forcible rape to an unwanted touching. The prosecutors in the District of Columbia will aggressive prosecute any sex offense charge in DC whether felony or misdemeanor.

DC Sexual Assault Charges

First degree sexual abuse is what DC criminal law calls rape. It requires engaging in a sexual act through force or threat of force with a gun or other weapon. Second degree sex abuse involves forcing a sexual act by threatening or placing a person in reasonable fear. Third degree sex abuse does not require penetration but includes an unwanted touching of the genitals or breasts through force or threat of force with a weapon. Fourth degree sex abuse also involves an unwanted touching of the breast or genitals through force or threat of force without the use of a weapon.  

Finally, misdemeanor sex abuse requires a sexual act committed where the defendant knew or should have known that the act was unwanted and not consented to. First, second, third, and fourth degree sex abuse are felonies and can carry substantial prison time if convicted. In order for the prosecution to convict, however, the allegations must fall within the statute of limitations for sex offenses in DC.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia prosecutes most sex crimes in the DC. The division that handles these prosecutions is the domestic violence and sex offense division, which is an extremely aggressive agency within an already aggressive prosecuting agency. Virtually no diversion options are offered for someone charged with a sex crime in the District of Columbia. Conviction for the following crimes requires sex offender registration in the District of Columbia:

  • Forcible rape
  • Enticing a child
  • Lewd, indecent, or obscene acts where victim is a minor
  • Kidnapping, prostitution, and pandering where the victim is a minor
  • Any offense involving a sexual act or sexual contact without consent or with a minor
  • Assaulting or threatening another with the intent to engage in a sexual act
  • Assault with intent to commit rape
  • Causing the death of another in the course of, before, or after engaging or attempting to engage in a sexual act or sexual contact or rape
  • Conspiracy to commit a crime that carries sex-offender registration
  • An offense under the law of any state, under federal law, or under the law of any other jurisdiction, which involved conduct that would constitute a registerable offense if convicted in DC

Federal Sex Offenses

In addition to the above crimes, several federal sex offenses can carry significant jail time and require sex offender registration at the federal level. Two relatively common federal sex offenses include enticement and travelling across state lines with the intent to have sex with minor: 18 U.S.C. § 2422 states:

“(a) Whoever knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual to travel in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or Possession of the United States, to engage in prostitution, or in any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”

“(b) Whoever, using the mail or any facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce, or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years, to engage in prostitution or any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than 10 years or for life.”

Section (a) is often referred to as a “travelers” case. These cases occur typically when an undercover agent convinces an adult over the internet or phone to come to a location across state lines to engage in a sex act with a minor. Subsection (b) is the typical “to catch a predator” type situation where an adult tries to convince a minor or someone they believe to be a minor to engage in sexual activity. Subsection (b) carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years in jail.

In these cases, it does not matter that there usually is no actual child who could potentially be harmed. Just agreeing with the undercover to engage meet up to engage in hypothetical future child sexual abuse is enough to get someone serious jail time. The police will normally record phone calls, text messages, and emails to gather proof of the defendant’s intent to engage in child sexual abuse. These cases are often difficult to take to trial because the graphic nature of the communications are difficult to stomach for any potential juror. In addition, the federal sentencing guidelines impose significant penalties for violations of these offenses.

In addition, there are a number of federal laws prohibiting the possession, creation, and distribution of child pornography that carry significant jail time and penalties—in many cases mandatory minimum jail time.

Hiring a DC Sex Assault Attorney

Penalties for sex offenses in DC can be extremely severe. Conviction often results in significant prison time and required registration on the sex offender registry. Federal cases often get to court with mountains of evidence against the defendant making trial an unlikely option. Given the serious nature of these offenses, its important to hire a DC sex offense attorney to help protect your rights.


Sex crimes allegations are extremely serious and can often turn someone’s life completely upside down and often times result in job loss, prison time, and sex offender registration. If you are charged with or under an investigation for a DC sex crime, contact Scrofano Law PC today for a full case evaluation.