If you find yourself in the dreadful position of being falsely accused of a sex crime such as sexual assault or child sexual abuse, being prepared by knowing early on what to do, what not to do and what to expect is critical in order to prevent making serious mistakes. False allegations of illegal sexual conduct, especially when involving a minor, can incite overwhelming feelings of anger, fear and desperation that can tempt an individual to take matters into his or her own hands – this is strongly ill-advised.
Before acting on your natural inclinations and making any decisions or taking any actions, we strongly suggest that you carefully read the below legal information, even if you simply suspect there are accusations being made. The information that our law firm has put together is based upon decades of specialized experience and will help you see clearly what you need to do now to protect your rights and avoid being wrongly convicted. If you’ve already made certain mistakes, which is not uncommon, focus on what to do and what not to do from this point forward. If you have any further questions, please contact us.
What Should I Do if I Believe I am 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 misconduct 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 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. Do not call them – call us. 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, politely ask what the issue is. Whether they tell you or not, the next words that come out of your mouth should be “I’ve done nothing wrong and have nothing else to say until I speak with my attorney.”
Who Can I Talk to 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 must take every precaution. Initially, do not speak to or trust anyone other than a defense attorney. 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. If asked about the situation, simply say that someone is making a false allegation and my attorney has advised me to not discuss the issue at this point in time. Do not speak with anyone on the phone regarding the allegations, especially the alleged victim – police often employ sting calls in sex crime cases where the complainant is coached to elicit “incriminating” evidence. These conversation 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.
What Should I Do 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 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. Deny any wrongdoing, tell them your attorney has advised you not to discuss anything with them, and politely ask them to leave.
What Should I Do If I Am 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 exercise 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 – it will not. Absolutely do not try to “explain away” the allegations – you are simply locking yourself into statements that might be 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. Do not fall for the “well, if you’re innocent then why not talk to us?,” or “things will go better for you if you speak with us.” It is highly unlikely that anything you say will be beneficial to your legal defense except “I want a lawyer.”
Upon exercising your right to remain silent, you will be “booked” into jail. Shortly thereafter you should request to call your attorney, which by now hopefully you have retained. He or she will then give you guidance as to when your bond hearing will occur. At the bond hearing, a judge will set your bail amount or might even deny bail. If the bail amount is too high or bail is denied, your attorney can schedule a Bail Reduction Hearing. If the bail amount is affordable, you can ask your attorney to have a friend or family member make arrangements to pay it or acquire the services of bail bondsman. Due to the complexity of sex crimes cases, its very important that you be bonded so that you can work closely with legal counsel to prepare your defense. Lastly, do not speak with anyone in jail about the allegations against you. There are plenty of “jailhouse snitches” that are always looking for a way to shorten their stay.
What Should I Do to Handle this Matter on My Own?
Absolutely nothing. Being falsely accused of a sex crime is a heavily emotional experience, but you should not take any action that has any type of legal consequence, however benign it may appear, without the specific guidance of a competent attorney. You do not want to make mistakes that can only make your case more difficult to win. Our extensive knowledge and understanding of important issues as to the recovery of false memories of abuse, taint and suggestibility in young children, and the factors that motivate teenagers to falsely accuse make us particularly well-equipped to represent you.
Final Thoughts for the Accused:
The suggestions that we have made are not only for your benefit, but also for the benefit of your family and friends who love and depend upon you. While our suggestions may not match your natural inclinations, they are based upon decades of experience of dealing with sexual accusations and will afford you the best opportunity to prove your innocence when that time comes. Remember, anyone can say anything. People are wrongly charged and convicted of sex crimes at an alarming rate mainly 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.
CONTACT US SHOULD YOU HAVE ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS
We’re here to protect you, and understand how emotionally devastating allegations of illegal sexual conduct 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.