If you find yourself in the dreadful position of being wrongly accused of sexual assault or other indecent sex act against a child or adult, being prepared for what might happen next can be highly beneficial. The below information explores situations that you might encounter as the allegations unfold into legal action, but is offered only for your consideration. Any decisions you intend to make should be discussed directly with your attorney.
If Under Investigation for a Sex Crime
Quite often there is an initial investigation before formal charges are filed in order to gain as much information on you as possible. Supposedly, such investigations are conducted in order to find evidence of whether the allegations of sexual abuse/assault are legitimate. But in reality they are often conducted in a one-sided fashion, where most if not all of the effort is directed toward gathering “evidence” to aid the prosecutor in convicting you.
During the investigation, law enforcement officers will interview the alleged sexual assault victim and follow any leads that he or she gives them. If the alleged victim is a child, police will contact their local child social services unit and arrange for what they call a “forensic interview.” In either scenario, statements are often taken “in a vacuum” and are assumed to be factually true – the interviews are not meant to be probative and what is said will often be the primary evidence that makes its way to trial.
If Contacted by Law Enforcement During an Investigation
At some point in the investigation you will likely be contacted by local or federal law enforcement. They might come to your home, leave a voicemail for you, or just leave their business card at your front door. If they come to your residence, it’s common for them to downplay the accusations in an attempt to get you to discuss “your side of the story.” They might not even tell you what the allegations are unless you agree to speak with them. Remember, you don’t have any Miranda Rights because you haven’t been arrested yet (see detained versus arrested). This is when most people fall into traps which could potentially damage their case. Until you have been arrested, you have no rights against self-incrimination. Anything that you say and do can be used against you without your knowledge. If approached by police, consider saying “I’ve done nothing wrong and have nothing else to say until I speak with my attorney.”
Talking About the Allegations During an Investigation
Now the issue becomes: who should I talk to about the allegations? Because allegations of sexual assault are so serious and so relentlessly pursued, you should take every precaution. What you say, with whom you speak and what you do (or don’t do) right now can have a huge effect on your future. We have seen the serious consequences suffered by innocent people who were lured into saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. There will be a strong desire to try to explain your side of the story to family members or friends, but you never really know who will ultimately help you, or hurt you.
Be aware that police often employ sting calls in sex crime cases where the complainant is coached to elicit “incriminating” evidence. These conversations are recorded. Although some states require that both parties consent to such recordings, most states have exceptions to this law for conversations involving sexual abuse. As a final thought, be proactive and make arrangements for fully retaining legal counsel, and posting bail should you be arrested.
If Social Services Come to My Door
Child social service agencies such as CPS, CYF or DCF often become involved in criminal investigations when the alleged sexual assault victim is a minor. They are known to be aggressive and often overstep their authority. Despite what the say, they have no legal right to enter your home without a court order. Simply put, they are there to give you an opportunity to incriminate yourself. They might even make threats to remove your children if you are being accused of sexual abuse, but the fact is that they are likely seeking additional “evidence” to make this process easier for themselves. If they plan to remove your children from your residence, it is highly unlikely that anything you say will dissuade them. Speak to your attorney before making any decisions in regard to this matter.
If I Charged and/or Arrested For a Sex Crime
Once local or federal law enforcement believes they have enough evidence to justify an arrest warrant, they will submit this information to the prosecuting attorney’s office who will then decide whether to issue a warrant. It is not uncommon for many months to go by after the investigation before an arrest is made. If you have previously contacted a defense attorney, chances are that he or she will have reached out to law enforcement to assess the accusations. If so, police will sometimes contact your attorney and ask him or her to arrange for your surrender. If not, you will be arrested and handcuffed on-site.
If you suspect that an arrest is likely, it is important for you to practice acceptance and be mentally prepared. Facing an arrest for a sex crime is a shocking and emotionally devastating experience, especially when the complainant is a child. There is the humiliation of being taken into custody followed by the fear and confusion over what will happen to you next. It is in this distressed state that you are required to make some of the most important decisions of your life.
Until you have an attorney present, be patient and strong and consider exercising your right to not incriminate yourself. Inundated with fear and emotions, many defendants make the mistake of trying to prove their innocence to the arresting officer. They feel that if they are friendly to law enforcement and cooperate with the investigation, this will all go away. Please realize that if you speak with the police, you might lock yourself into statements that are inaccurate due to the stress of the situation.
Remember, if you have been arrested, chances are that the prosecution has already been building a case against you for quite some time without your knowledge. Be cautious of “well, if you’re innocent then why not talk to us?,” or “things will go better for you if you speak with us.” Do not make your decision as to whether to speak with police based upon this routine trickery.
Final Thoughts for the Accused:
These considerations were discussed not only for your benefit, but also for the benefit your family and friends who love and depend upon you. Remember, anyone can accuse anyone of anything. People are wrongly charged and convicted of sex crimes at an alarming rate in part because the chief and sometimes only evidence in such cases is what someone said you did. The time to give your side of the story will come, but for now be strong and patient. You do not want to make mistakes that can only make proving your innocence more difficult.
Attorney Tom Pavlinic and our Group lawyers vehemently believe that a person is innocent unless proven guilty. We’re here to protect you, and understand how emotionally devastating false allegations of sexual assault can be. You can reach us 24/7 at 800-993-0632, or SECURELY EMAIL US. Rest assured that any information provided to us is completely confidential.