criminal defense lawyer in cases of allegations of sexual abuse

When accused of sexual abuse of children or dealing with child pornography, the defendant is exposed to high risks.

The penalties in Germany have been repeatedly increased in recent years and, as in other countries, there is a risk of social ostracism for the accused, regardless of the outcome of the proceedings.

The legal situation can be summarized as follows: Legislators in Germany have improved the position of victims in criminal proceedings and increased the sentencing ranges for convictions.

Dealing with allegations of sexual abuse requires professional handling of potentially false incriminating statements. Wrongful convictions do occur. Allegations of sexual abuse can be used consciously or unconsciously as an instrument due to suggestion and autosuggestion. Unhealthy constellations can arise when adult caregivers are dealing with a separation conflict and therapeutic staff can also have a devastating influence on witnesses. There is a high probability of conviction if charges are brought. Careless handling of such proceedings is not at all advisable.

specialist lawyer for criminal law on false testimony

Witness testimony can be untrustworthy and if you work that out, courts will see it. We experience such cases. Witness statements were deemed unreliable. The Criminal Court in Düsseldorf (133 Ls 70 Ls 1370/16-145/16) acquitted the accused from the accusation of rape. Earlier in the year we had been granted an acquittal from the criminal court at the Local Court in Düsseldorf due to accusations of sexual abuse (137 Ls 70 Js 15533/15-106/16). Since then, cases like this have been repeated in our practice. Statistically, acquittals are higher for such charges than for other charges.

Sexual acts in German criminal law

Who is confronted with the accusation of a sexual offense is sometimes blindsides, which is not least due to the fact that he or she remembers an event quite differently than the prosecutors now claim.

Criminal defense lawyer on the basics of sexual criminal law

What are sexual acts in German criminal law?

The German Criminal Code gives us relatively vague definitions in Section 184h StGB. According to the legal definition, sexual acts within the meaning of this law (§ 184h StGB) are in any case only those that are of some severity and sexual acts in front of another person are only those that are carried out in front of another person who is also aware of the act. That is all the law says in the legal definitions. Individual laws such as the serious criminal offense Section 177 (§ 177 StGB) with the heading “sexual assault, sexual coercion and rape” say more in relation to certain constellations.

And the case law of German courts has always emphasized that, in terms of type, intensity and duration, there must be a socially unacceptable impairment of the legal interest protected by the respective criminal law (BGH, decision of September 21, 2016 - 2 StR 558/15 -; BGH, decision of September 12, 2012 - 2 StR 219/12). The point at which this materiality threshold is exceeded is determined by the degree of danger of the act for the respective victim of an offense (BGH, decision of January 30, 2001 - 4 StR 569/00). This requires an overall consideration of all circumstances. (BGH, decision of September 21, 2016 - 2 StR 558/15 -,).

There are areas where this can be questionable. For example, an imposed kiss without further sexually motivated physical contact does not easily reach the materiality threshold within the meaning of the law and does not then constitute sexual coercion (see OLG Brandenburg, decision of October 28, 2009 - 1 Ss 70/09-) or the stroking of a clothed leg and the unsuccessful attempt at a kiss do not always constitute sexual acts (BGH, decision of January 30, 2001 - 4 StR 569/00).

However, the legislator has now also introduced a further criminal offense for physical touching with a harassing effect (Section 184i I StGB) if it is committed in a sexually explicit manner. The offense of sexual harassment now also covers acts that do not constitute sexual acts because they do not reach the materiality threshold, but which nevertheless sexually harass the victim.

Criminal defense lawyer on German sexual criminal law

According to case law, the requirements for performing sexual acts on children in sexual criminal law are lower than for adults. However, this only applies in some areas. There is a great deal of physical contact with children that is unusual between adults and whose sexual nature and materiality can only be assessed on a case-by-case basis. For this reason, acts that would cross the threshold for adults can sometimes be ruled out as sexual offenses with children (e.g. touching a child to pick it up). The prerequisite is an objectively sexual act and this is considered separately in each individual case.

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