New York Course of Sexual Conduct Against a Child in the First Degree

Under the New York Penal Code you have committed course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree if within a period of 3 months you engage in at least 2 acts of sexual conduct with a person who is less than 11 years old, or you are at least 18 years old and you engage in at least 2 acts of sexual conduct with a person who is less than 13 years old. Course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree is a class B felony. If you are convicted, you could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.75. In addition to having to spend a great portion of your life behind bars, when you are released you will have a criminal record with a violent felony conviction and you will be a registered sex offender. Because of the consequences of being convicted of this sex offense, as soon as you have been arrested it is critical that you contact an experienced New York sex crimes lawyer who understands New York criminal law related to sex crimes and who will aggressively defend you against the charges. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have decades of experience representing clients who have been charged with sex crimes and other serious crimes such as assault, domestic violence and kidnapping. Find out what we can do for you by contacting us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

Offense defined

The crime of course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree is meant to punish those who repeatedly commit sex crimes against children. If you commit just one sex act with a child, or commit multiple sex acts against a child over a period of time that is longer than 3 months, you cannot be charged with course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree, but you can be charged with other sex crimes such as forcible touching, rape, criminal sexual act, sexual abuse, or aggravated sexual abuse.

Sexual conduct

New York law defines sexual conduct as sexual intercourse, oral sexual conduct, anal sexual conduct, aggravated sexual conduct, or sexual contact. N.Y. Pen. Law § 130.00(10). Sexual intercourse involves a penis penetrating a vagina. While penetration must occur, the amount of penetration can be slight. Oral sexual conduct refers to contact between the mouth and the penis, anus, vulva or vagina. Anal sexual conduct refers to contact between the penis and the anus. Sexual contact means touching the intimate parts of another person for sexual gratification. It also includes ejaculation on someone else whether that person is clothed or unclothed.

Lack of consent

Lack of consent is the basis for any sex charge. If the other person consented to the sexual conduct, then there is no sex crime. However, children under a certain age are deemed to not have the capacity to consent to sexual conduct. For the purpose of the crime of course of sexual conduct in the first degree, if the child is under the age of 11, or the age of 13 if you are at least 18 years old, there would have been lack of consent to the sexual conduct.

Arrest and arraignment

If you are arrested for course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree you will be taken into custody at the local precinct. The police officer will not have the option of giving you a Desk Appearance Ticket as the charge is too serious. You will be held at Central Booking until your arraignment. This may be from a few hours to a few days. The arraignment is a hearing where you will be formally charged. Even if you are arrested on a charge of course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree, you may learn at your arraignment that the prosecutor has decided to charge you with additional crimes. For example, based on the allegations of the case, the prosecutor may also charge you with rape, criminal sexual act, or criminal sexual abuse. However, the prosecutor will only be able to charge you with additional crimes that involve sexual contact if the incident did not occur within the same 3 month period as the incident on which the charge of course of sexual conduct was based. You may also be charged with other offenses that are not sex crimes. You will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

The next step in the arraignment hearing is the issue of bail. Whether or not bail is set is based on the court's determination as to whether or not you are a flight risk. The judge will ultimately decide whether or not bail is required and if so, how much. It is possible that the judge will set bail, release you on your own recognizance, or decide that you should be held without bail. You will then learn when you must next appear in court. It is vital for you to be present at each court date. If you miss a court date, then the judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest.

Between the time of your arraignment and the actual trial, you may be able to reach a plea agreement with the prosecutor. This may result in some of the charges being dismissed or reduced. If a plea agreement is reached before trial, no trial will be necessary.

Defenses

A defense to a charge of course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree is that the reported acts of sexual conduct did not occur within a 3-month period, or that there were not 2 acts. While the best defense would be to effectively challenge that any sexual conduct occurred at all, attacking elements of the charge of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree such as the time frame or the number of acts may force the prosecutor to reduce the charges against you.

Another possible defense is that you are married to the purported victim. While it is unusual for someone who is 13 years old or younger to be married, it is not unheard of, particularly in countries other than the United States. Thus if you and the child are married and the marriage is considered valid in the State of New York, you have a defense to a charge of course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree.

The statute of limitations may provide another defense. Under New York law such a charge must be brought within 5 years of the incident. N.Y. Crim. Pro. Law § 30.10. This means that if you are not prosecuted within five years of when the incident reportedly occurred, the prosecutor is time-barred from prosecuting you at all for that crime. An exception to this rule is where the victim was less than 18 years old at the time of the incident. In such a case the limitations period does not begin to run until the victim turns 18 years old or until the incident is reported to law enforcement.

Sentencing

Prison. The sentence for being convicted of course of conduct against a child in the first degree is up to 25 years in prison as it is a Class B felony. This charge is also classified as a violent felony offense. As such if you are convicted you will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 25 years. You must serve at least 6/7 of the prison sentence before you will be eligible to be released on parole.

There are additional factors that the court will consider in determining your sentence. If this conviction is your second violent felony conviction, the minimum sentence that you will be required is 10 years with a maximum of 25 years. N.Y. Pen. Law § 70.04. If you are convicted of other crimes in addition to course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree your sentence will be more severe than if you were convicted of just one crime.

If you are a first time offender and are convicted of this crime, you will still be sentenced to at least 5 years in prison. However, if you are able to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor such that the charge is reduced to one a crime that is not classified as a violent felony, then it is possible that you could be sentenced to a much shorter prison term or even to probation.

Probation. While probation is a lighter sentence than jail, when you are on probation you are still subject to several restrictions. With probation comes a set of rules that you are required to follow. Depending on your background these rules may include: you must not commit a crime, you must have a job, you may be required to submit to random drug testing, you must refrain from associating with disreputable people, you must refrain from possessing firearms, you cannot leave New York State without permission, you will be subject to a curfew, and you must regularly check in with your probation officer. If you break the conditions of your probation a judge may send you to jail.

Sex offender registration. If you are convicted of course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree, once you are released from prison you will be a registered sex offender. N.Y. Cor. Law § 168. Depending on the level of risk you are determined to pose to the public, you will remain on the registry for 20 years of for the rest of your life. If it is determined that you pose a high risk to the public, your name will be listed in the public sex offender directory so that anyone can go online and find that you are a registered sex offender. All registered sex offenders must verify their addresses with the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) each year, and must inform the DCJS of a new addresses within 10 days of moving. If you move out of state, you must register as a sex offender under the rules of your new jurisdiction.

Request a free confidential consultation

Defending any sex offense charge is always complex. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis and Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who are accused of sex crimes including course of sexual conduct against a child, sexual misconduct, criminal sexual act, forcible touching, sexual abuse, sexual conduct against child, and facilitating a sexual offense with a controlled substance. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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