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Sexual criminal charges and how to deal with them

An accusation of sexual molestation or assault is a very serious charge and it’s a very big responsibility shouldered by the investigator and later on by the prosecution to prove what happened. This raises the question how do we go about proving a sexual criminal charge? What do you do when the victim is too young to even speak coherently? What happens when there is a suspicion that the crime did not occur? Statistical evidence suggest that one of out every ten cases of sexual assault was fabricated, meaning that the accused was innocent of the charged crime and was falsely implicated.

The problem of innocents being falsely implicated

On the surface, numbers of one in ten appear too insignificant to warrant a hue and cry, but spare a thought for that innocent individual that got his whole life turned upside down on the foundation of a fabricated charge. An accusation of sexual misconduct finishes careers, annuls marriages, mars reputations and effectively destroys an innocent person’s life.

Jurors while judging sexual crimes may subconsciously bring to the fore their own prejudices and deep seated gender biases. But the conscientious juror could pose the question “how did the accused land himself in a situation where he became open to the allegation of sexual misconduct?” or “what motivated the victim to come in close proximity to the accused?” And “is there any motive on the part of the victim to lie?” The complexity of interpersonal relationships and the vicissitudes of behavior even among people that are intensely familiar with each other can make the task of the juror even more difficult in implementing the dictum “innocent until proven guilty.”

Children by virtue of their tender age are prone to be impressionable and can be made to feel guilty and get manipulated by older individuals to give false testimony against the accused. Dating remorse in young age may lead to the apprehension that shades of force and compulsion were employed in an act that was essentially performed with mutual consent. The problem is that the small initial lie of the accuser blossoms in to a web of deceit and intrigue that requires more and more lies to prop up the false testimony.

There are cogent reasons why an accuser could be motivated to move an allegation of sexual misconduct:

  • The accuser stands to gain financially and endeavors to extract maximum compensation.
    * It’s a knee jerk reaction of the accuser to protect his or her reputation at the cost of sullying the reputation of the accused. Basically, the accuser does not want to be an object of ridicule.
  • Cases where accusations have been made following immense psychological stress or mental illness that can’t be traced or sourced to the accused or his actions.
  • Accusations that add strength to what would otherwise be considered as weak petitions. This is especially true of troubled relationships in divorce and child custody cases, student and teacher interactions, employer and employee relations and a host of other examples where the accuser could harbor a motive to accuse the other person.

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Fundamentals every accused should be aware of when the accusation is sexual misconduct

The accused has the right to remain silent till an attorney represents him.

The problem is that the accused is expected to be scrupulously honest in responding to queries but the police are allowed to use lies and deception to elicit responses from the accused. If the allegation is sexual misconduct anything said inadvertently could implicate you in the crime, so the best policy is to maintain total silence, refusing to part with any information till you are legally represented. Hiring an attorney gives the accused a head start as his attorney starts collating evidence, gathering witness testimonials and requesting forensic information that would be vital in rebutting allegations.

Time is of the essence, and testimony delayed is case lost

In many cases a skilled attorney will be able to move fast and get a No-Bill (for lack of evidence or evidence obtained by breach of constitutional rights) from a grand jury much before the case finds itself in a felony court. If the attorney is hired without delay he can furnish facts, array a panel of experts and scientifically analyze forensic and DNA evidences so that he can convincingly defend the accused in court before a grand jury itself. This applies to both misdemeanors and felonies, and the attorney should be given maximum possible assistance to strengthen the accused’s legal position.

You are not to speak to the accuser or negotiate terms

The attorney will fill you in on what happens during the investigation and what you can expect in future settings and pre-trial hearings as the case gradually unfolds in court. During this period it is vital that the accused maintains contact only with his attorney and not speak to any individual regarding the case without the attorney being a party to the discussion. Barring the attorney-client privilege, all other communications in any other setting are suspect and your conversations can be recorded and used to build up evidence against you. In a closed environment like the jail, private conversations are nonexistent and jail calls are monitored and recorded.

Do not confide facts to the police when you are innocent

If you stand accused of a sexual crime and you are protesting your innocence, the last place to lodge that protest is the police station. Contrary to what people inherently believe or are programmed to think that honesty is the best policy and it’s better to speak the whole truth no matter how incriminating it might sound, the fact remains that the police would only be motivated to use evidence against you. So any attorney worth his beans will be the first to advise you that the police are the last persons to confide facts once a crime is committed and you are possibly an accused in that crime. Moreover, the information that you hand over to the police can come back to hurt your interests in court, the defense attorney can, through hearsay objections, eliminate questions that are irrelevant and unconnected with the crime and are more self-serving and self-incriminating in nature. The most important lesson to be learned is that truth doesn’t keep you from being arrested or taken into custody, and therefore the dictum that truth will set you free may take a quiet beating in police custody.

Sexual crimes are considered to be in the top bracket of heinous crimes deserving the harshest penalties, and the prosecution in many counties gears up to the task of moving pleas for maximum punishment for sexual offenses. The consequences for accused and their families can be devastating unless the accused hires a highly competent and skilled criminal defense lawyer to defend any allegation of rape, violent death, aggravated assault and child abuse.

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