Recently, a San Angelo man who would have faced up to 20 years in prison had his sexual assault case gone to trial was sentenced to eight years probation. Daniel Armenta, 29, allegedly sexually assaulted a minor; he pleaded guilty to a single count of sexual assault of a child younger than 17 in a plea agreement that resulted in dismissal of an indecency with a child sexual contact charge.
The charges stem from an incident that occurred in March last year when Armenta picked the girl up from a Mertzon school, then took her to his San Angelo home. The girl claims that at his residence, Armenta tried to become intimate with her, forcing his hand down her pants and assaulting her. She said that her efforts to remove his hand were unsuccessful. Armenta was arrested six days after the alleged sexual assault took place, and booked into jail where he has remained until his release on February 9.
The judge in the case asked the prosecutor how giving Armenta probation (deferred adjudication) was in the best interest of the victim, to which the prosecutor replied the girl’s family preferred she not appear in court and go through the trial process.
In addition to adhering to the terms of his probation, Armenta is required to register as a sex offender, perform 240 hours of community service, pay court fees, and remain in his home between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Should he violate probation, Armenta will face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Sexual assault is an extremely serious criminal offense. In the state of Michigan, sexual activity of any kind with a minor (younger than 16) is considered statutory rape. If the alleged victim is older than 13 but younger than 16, penalties for a conviction include a maximum of 15 years in prison. When the victim is younger than 13, it is considered a first-degree felony, leaving the offender facing possible life in prison if found guilty. In addition, those convicted will be required to register as a sex offender for 25 years to life, depending on the age of the minor victim.
In many cases, such as the one above, a plea agreement is advantageous for the accused. However, most people who are not guilty of the crime they have been accused of do not want to plead guilty to something they did not do. When there is a complete lack of physical or other evidence, it may be best to go forth with a trial. Everything about sex-related criminal charges is risky, which is why it is essential to work with a highly skilled Michigan sex crimes attorney.