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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 25957
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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My son is 19. He was with a girl last night and was found in

Customer Question

My son is 19. He was with a girl last night and was found in the back seat of his car. He was arrested for 1st degree sexual assault. The girl turned out to be 14. She told the police that nothing happened and that being in the back seat was consensual. She had never told my son her age and she looks to be 18 or so. She also told the cops she snuck out of her house to be with my son.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Richard replied 6 years ago.
Good morning...I'm going to refer your question to one of our best criminal law experts. I'll give her the head's up now.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
He just met this girl on Facebook a day or 2 ago and didn't know her before this incident
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

Hello, Jacustomer,

 

Your expert asked me to take over your question, which I am happy to do. That said, I am sorry to hear about your son's arrest, and I suspect that you do not need me to tell you that he is facing very serious charges. As sex crimes go, this is the most serious of all of Nebraka's sex offenses, and the maximum penalty for it would be 50 years in jail, to say nothing of lifetime registration as a sex offender. Here is the law with which your son is charged.

 

Please note that although you should be very, very concerned about this case, there is a vast difference between what police need to make an arrest and the state to file charges -- which is only a reasonable belief that illegal activity may have occurred -- and proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the burden the state must meet in order to get a conviction. So don't lose heart.

 

The age of consent in Nebraska is 17. That means that according to the state of Nebraska someone under that age does not have enough experience or knowledge to consent to sex. That makes a consent defense impossible, (except to the extent that your son didn't have to use force). No 14 year old in Nebraska can have consensual sex. Any mother of a teenage girl, can probably tell you that they are far more knowledgeable than states want to give them credit for. But unfortunately in terms of consent, it does not matter.

 

There is also another difficulty. Some states -- not many any more -- recognize a reasonable mistake as to age as a complete defense to an act of this sort. Nebraska does not. That doesn't mean that the fact that she looked 18 and may or may not have lied about her age won't be relevant. It does mean that it won't be enough to completely exonorate him of this offense. A better defense is likely to be that they hadn't had sex at all, as that is what the girl is saying. That, of course, is what's most in your son's favor.

 

You will need to get him an experienced lawyer. This is a type of case in which the quality of the attorney can make a difference. If you cannot afford one for him he can plead not guilty and ask for a public defender. They are plenty experienced as well and generally have tried many cases, but as you can't pick the defender he'd be assigned and they can be difficult to reach because they are always in court, you will probably feel more comfortable with someone more accessible.

 

You can contact the State Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service for a reference. They guarantee you an active member of the bar in good professional standing and their referral fee of $50 or less will include a half hour appointment with the lawyer. There are also very reputable referral agencies such as martindale.com an avvo.com where many lawyers list their credentials in order to solicit customers. Many legal profiles show ratings by actual clients, so that could be of assistance to you.