It’s an unthinkable question, but unfortunately, it happens. Whether it was intentional or not, there’s an accusation of molestation performed by a minor.
What happens next?
There are a lot of nuances that have to be considered before that question can be answered. The majority of sexual crimes are committed by adults, but there are child-on-child sex offenses. When these occur, because juveniles are involved, the cases are approached in a different manner.
Juveniles can be tried as a child or as an adult, depending on the facts of the case. If your child was wrongly accused of molestation, you need to know how the system works. It’s possible for a minor to be charged with molestation, but the consequences of that charge depend on multiple factors.
What is Child-on-Child Molestation?
Sexual abuse comes in all shapes, sizes, and, sadly, ages. If a child is charged with molestation, the acts he or she is accused of were not the normal “questioning our body” most kids go through.
Juveniles make up over one-third of sexual offenses against other children. These actions often occur at school, at home, or in group situations. The crimes are most predominant when children are between 15 and 17 years old. Statistics show that 93% of child-on-child abusers are male.
If a claim of abuse has been made, the child has been accused of rape, sodomy, or targeting a child by fondling them with the intent to victimize.
What Happens Next?
A minor child under the age of 18 who has been accused of sexual abuse will start out in a delinquency court after he or she is arrested. After an investigation by the law enforcement officers is performed, the child may be released into the care of their parent or guardian. If the crime appears to be serious, the minor may be held in juvenile hall.
In some cases, the minor may not qualify for the juvenile hall, but a return to a home environment wouldn’t be in their best interests. At that point, the child can be sent to a foster home for shelter and care until their court hearing.
Because of the intricacies that need to be dealt with here, an experienced team of sex crime lawyers is crucial to your child’s case.
Can a Child Be Prosecuted for Sexual Crimes?
This is where things get a little tricky. It’s very common for minors between the ages of 14 to 17 to voluntarily engage in sexual activity, and then end up accused of force later.
If the court deems that the children involved had consensual sexual activities without force, threat, or fear, the punishment may be a misdemeanor. But if one of the children was older than 14 and the other was younger, the older child can face felony charges.
The prosecution will then involve determining if the offender had a history of other arrests. If not, the case may remain in the juvenile courts. If there’s a history of crime, though, the prosecutor may choose to file a criminal charge to be heard in adult courts.
However, if aggravated assault, murder, or certain sex offenses occurred, the state may require that the case be tried in an adult court if the offender was over 14.
If the minor is found guilty of child-on-child sexual abuse, the consequences will depend on the severity of the crime as well as the minor’s history. They could be assigned formal probation with supervision, a fine, or a strike on their record. But if they were tried in an adult court, it could mean prison time.
They could also be required to register as a lifetime sex offender, a label that stays with them anytime they may be around children for the rest of their lives.
If your child was accused of molestation or other sex crimes, it’s important that you know what to expect and hire a knowledgeable attorney. There are a lot of factors involved in how the case will turn out, but the more experienced your lawyer is, and the calmer you stay, the better your child’s chances of success.