If you are charged in North Carolina with a crime against nature, then you may be left wondering what on earth you are being accused of. Many states no longer have laws like this on their books, which is effectively a law that criminalizes certain sexual acts. In North Carolina, this law is very much alive, and you may find yourself charged with this sex crime under certain circumstances.
If you are charged with a crime like this, then it’s vital to understand the charges against you and your rights in the situation. After all, a crime against nature is a sex crime, which means that a conviction could land you on the sex offender registry and significantly alter the path of your life.
Here’s what you need to know about crimes against nature in North Carolina and what you can do to fight these types of charges so it doesn’t impact your future.
Crimes Against Nature: What Are They?
Historically, certain sex acts that were considered unnatural were deemed crimes against nature. However, the definition of what was unnatural was broad, which is why many states no longer have this type of law on their legal books.
In North Carolina, a crime against nature is defined as a crime between men or with beasts. The law is generally referring to acts of bestiality, sodomy, and buggery, but it also extends to sex acts that involve minors and even prostitution. The language of the law is a bit vague, so some consensual sex acts between adults can fall victim to this statute.
Specifically, crimes against nature in the state are unnatural copulation by a human with someone of the opposite or same sex. So, it can cover things such as receiving or giving fellatio, cunnilingus, or analingus as well as anal sex.
This type of charge is normally an additional crime for cases that involve crimes of sexual assault such as forcible rape or statutory sexual offense. But the crime against nature with beast or mankind is classified as a Class I felony in the state.
There have been several challenges to this law based on the state constitution, but high courts have determined that it’s not unconstitutional to criminalize certain types of sexual conduct, such as coercive acts, sexual conduct with minors, acts that involve a lack of consent, and prostitution.
A Felony Crime
As mentioned, crimes against nature can be a felony charge attached to other serious felony sex crimes such as forcible rape. The law states that anyone who commits this offense can be fined up to $2,000 and be sentenced to up to five years in prison if they are found guilty.
What About Watching?
There is also a question of whether or not it’s illegal to witness certain sex acts. Can you face these types of charges even if you don’t directly participate? The answer to that is yes, you can face these charges simply for watching.
For example, watching sex acts involving bestiality is illegal in North Carolina. You cannot possess material related to it or engage in it. If you download material pertaining to it on your computer, for example, then you can face criminal charges.
Aggravated Crimes Against Nature
A person can also commit aggravated crimes against nature if the act they are accused of involved resistance by the victim, which was overcome with force on behalf of the perpetrator. It may also be an aggravating factor if minors are involved in the crime – or if someone from a protected group is. An aggravating factor like this can mean more serious penalties when facing a conviction.
How To Defend Yourself Against Crimes Against Nature
The definition of this type of crime is so broad that it may be easy for a skilled lawyer to defend you in court against it. Some of the defenses that may come in handy in general include:
Violation of Your Rights
You may be able to challenge the constitutionality of the crime on its face by admitting that, yes, you did perpetrate the crime, but prosecuting you for it violates your constitutional rights. Your lawyer knows that you have a right to privacy, too. The police may have violated this right, and the law has overreached to your privacy.
Challenge with the Law
It may also be possible to invoke a defense that is already a part of case law in these types of cases. For example, if you participated in a crime against nature, but the other party was a consenting adult, then you had an expectation of privacy that can be invoked.