While advancements in mobile communication technology have made our lives easier in many ways, it has not come without a hidden cost. That cost comes in the form of easier ways to commit crimes, especially crimes involving sexually explicit text messages and images (known as “sexting”) to children under the age of 18.
One area where this crime seems increasingly prevalent is in education, as seemingly more and more teachers are charged with committing lewd acts against children. Whether there are actually more crimes committed by teachers against students recently is the subject of some debate.
Though the media seem to report a new story every few weeks, actual statistics on teacher-student sex crimes are difficult to determine for many reasons. First, the U.S. Department of Education does not require states to provide data on these crimes. Secondly, many of these crimes go unreported until years after the student has graduated, so the current number of cases is in constant need of revision. Finally, the publicity these crimes are getting might not be the result of an increase in the number of cases; rather, some suggest that what has actually increased is the willingness for victims to come forward. As psychologist Bonny Forest told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, “I don’t think it’s on the rise, and I don’t think females committing this kind of abuse is on the rise. I just think we’re willing to talk about it more.” 1
The Conflict Between Communication and Self-Defense
A teacher in today’s world is often expected by district and school administration officials to use technology to remain in constant communication with his or her students. This creates a tension between teachers’ duties to their students and their ability to protect themselves from accusations of improper behavior. While answering student questions is part of the job, teachers who communicate with students on a one-on-one basis, either in person or through phone or email, are at risk of being falsely accused of a crime.
If you are a teacher, you must remain vigilant and protect yourself from these kinds of accusations, and also be able to prove you are innocent if you are accused of a sex crime involving a student.
The best course to avoid being involved in any teacher-student sex crimes is to refrain from sending text messages to students at all, and if you must communicate with a student via e-mail, copy another teacher, school administrator, or the student’s parents on the email. Additionally, here are some steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Avoid social media interaction with students
- Set your social media accounts to private
- Do not give students your phone number
- Avoid physical contact with students
- Never meet with a student alone
- Report threats made by a student
Consequences of Lewd Acts with a Minor (PC 288)
If you are a teacher accused of committing lewd or lascivious acts with a minor, you are facing serious legal consequences. Under California Penal Code Section 288, lewd acts with a minor is a felony in California.
If you are convicted of this crime, you could be sentenced to three, six, or eight years in state prison and fined $10,000. You will also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life as long as you live, work or go to school in California.
Serious Accusations Call for Skilled Help
An accusation of improper behavior against a teacher can end that teacher’s career. Under California Education Code Section 44940, the first disciplinary step you will face if you are charged with any sex offense (as well as a number of drug-related offenses) is being placed on mandatory administrative suspension.
In addition to severe criminal penalties, you could permanently lose your teaching credentials. Under California Education Code Section 44425, a conviction of a felony sex offense, or a drug offense involving distribution to or use of a controlled substance by a minor, calls for an automatic revocation of a teacher’s credentials by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
A skilled and experienced sex crimes attorney with a track record of defending falsely accused teachers is your best ally in the fight against these charges. The consequences of a conviction are severe, and you will need someone on your side who can defend you against actions by the criminal justice system and the Commission.
Contact the Sex Crime Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you are a teacher facing charges for any sex crime against a child, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been successfully helping clients facing these charges for over 30 years. We know that facing criminal charges can have a devastating effect on your life and your career, and we are dedicated to working tirelessly on your behalf to provide you with the best defense possible.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich sex crimes attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.
1. [Toni McAllister, “Are More Female Teachers Having Sex With Their Teenage Students?” The Lake Elsinore-Wildomar Patch, June 21, 2013, available at http://patch.com/california/lakeelsinore-wildomar/are-more-female-teachers-having-sex-with-their-teenage-students.]↩