Legal Defenses in Sex Crime Cases – Defending Against Sexual Assault & Sex Abuse Charges

There are few areas of law that have seen more innocent people convicted than those related to sex crimes. Ineffective defense is one of the main reasons for this terrible injustice. If you are facing a sexual charge, it is absolutely imperative that your defense attorney be experienced in the field of sex crimes defense in order to beat the charge. The approach and defense strategies in this area of criminal law are different from those employed in other areas of criminal law. They require unique skills and investigative resources.

Here, we present a sampling of some of the defense strategies and considerations involved in defending against a sexual criminal charge. In some instances a comprehensive legal analysis can lead to a case being dismissed; otherwise, the focus shifts to trial strategy. Because it is very difficult to prove a negative, .i.e., that something didn’t happen, the overarching goal of sex crimes defense is to produce substantial reasonable doubt by attacking the credibility of the States’ evidence and witnesses. To discuss the specifics of your case, we urge you to call us at (800) 993-0632 to speak with Tom or one of our Group attorneys experienced in sex crimes defense.

Checking the Statue of Limitations

The very first undertaking in any sex crime case should be to determine whether the State has brought charges within the statute of limitations period applicable to your offense(s). A statute of limitations (SOL) protects an individual from having to defend himself against alleged criminal activity so far in the past that the basic facts may have become obscured by the passage of time. Generally, the “clock” starts on the date of the alleged commission of the sexual offense. If a defendant is not formally charged with the crime before the SOL period has expired, his prosecution for that offense is barred by law.

If it is determined that the State is attempting to prosecute you in violation of the statute of limitations, this must immediately be raised in court. However, in making this determination the following two commonly unknown provisions must be explored:

Statute of limitations periods can legally be extended retroactively. If the SOL period for a crime has expired before legislature extends it, then the new SOL cannot apply. However, if the original SOL period has not expired before legislature extends it, the new SOL period does apply. For example, if someone was alleged to have committed sexual assault in 1980 when the SOL period was 10 years, and in 1988 legislature changed the SOL period to 30 years, the new SOL expiration date would be 2010.

Statute of limitations periods can be extended via “tolling.” This means that the “clock” stops during certain time frames. For example, certain states exclude the following time frames: 1) time during which the defendant does not reside in the charging state, 2) time during which the defendant has absconded, or 3) time until the alleged victim turns 16 or 18 (if involving a minor).

Establishing Accuser Motivation

Because sexual charges are often based on the word of the accuser, the motivations and background of the accuser are highly relevant to sex crimes defense and can create substantial reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors. Proper investigation and use of psychological experts can uncover facts that can be helpful to your defense.

LYING ABOUT CONSENSUAL SEX. Some may make false charges of sexual assault or rape to cover up consensual sex in order to protect their own reputation from damage to hide casual sexual encounters from friends and family. In such cases, the following evidence should be sought:

  1. Was there any unusual phone activity after the alleged assault compared to the norm?
  2. Were there any text messages, emails or social media posts that would indicate an assault had occurred?
  3. Are there any photos that were taken after the alleged assault that would indicate the absence of an assault?
  4. Are there any witnesses who observed the complainant’s demeanor after the alleged assault, or heard him or her give any statements?
  5. Is there evidence that the two of you met again afterwards?
  6. Is there evidence that you had consensual sexual relations with the person previously?
  7. Did the complainant seek a medical exam?
  8. Is there a financial motive?

DIVORCE AND CHILD CUSTODY DISPUTES. A parent may make false accusations of molestation or inappropriate sexual behavior against his or her spouse in order to gain an advantage in family court. Such false charges are a common tactic in divorce and custody cases. In such cases, the following evidence should be sought:

  1. Is there evidence that the relationship or marriage was failing before the allegations were made?
  2. Was there a previous attempt to end the relationship?
  3. Is there evidence of infidelity by either you or your partner that would motivate your partner to fabricate allegations?
  4. Did you notice any unusual behavior or statements from the child preceding the allegations that would indicate your partner was “coaching” him or her?
  5. Were there any heated arguments during which your partner threatened you?
  6. Would there be a financial advantage for your partner?

FINANCIAL ADVANTAGE. A sexual charge is an easy way for an accuser to extort money from a defendant. Celebrities are not the only targets of these schemes. An employee can easily bring such a charge against an employer. We have also seen extortion associated with extramarital affairs. In such cases, the following evidence should be sought:

  1. Is the complainant financially unstable or is there evidence that he or she would be in the near future?
  2. Is there evidence that the complainant was aware of your financial status?
  3. Is there evidence that the complainant has or intends to file a civil lawsuit against you?
  4. Is there evidence of nefarious intent in any emails, texts or social media posts?
  5. Has the complainant previously made allegations against anyone else?

Diminishing the Credibility of Child Complainants – “Tainted” Evidence

“Taint” can occur when children are subjected to biased and suggestive interviews. Parents, teachers, police and even therapists can ask leading questions such as “daddy touched you there, didn’t he?” Often, the adult conducting the interrogation is not consciously aware of the suggestive nature of the question, but sometimes the adult may deliberately and maliciously attempt to distort a child’s understanding of what in fact happened. In either case, young children, who are eager to please adults, often answer “yes” and even build false memories about events that did not actually occur.

We are experienced in the field of recognizing and challenging tainted evidence. Our research and legal arguments in this area have resulted in new case law. In fact, attorneys from around the country have turned to Premier Defense Group for advice in this important area of sex crimes defense.

If it is believed that a child complainant is the victim of “taint,” it is important for the defense to explore the child’s statements using certain techniques. One must remember that prior to coming to court, the complainant’s statements were likely never challenged in a probative manner. Caution must be taken, however, during the cross-examination of the child. The purpose is not to show malicious intent – it is to diminish credibility. Here are some legal techniques that should be considered by defense counsel:

  1. Attempting to demonstrate the child’s susceptibility to incorrectly answering “leading questions.”
  2. Establishing on record how many different people the child was “interviewed” by and how many times.
  3. Although a jury would never expect a child to recall all details, exploring some details that one would expect even a child to recall is important. If the child’s recollection has been formed via “taint,” he or she will struggle with independent recollection of details in a consistent manner.
  4. Exploring implausibilities and impossibilities. Previous statements and live testimony spawned by taint will often give rise to alleged facts that are implausible or simply could not be true.
  5. Exploring inconsistencies and contradictions. It has been said that if you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. In instances where a child complainant’s recollection is based upon external sources of information, cross examination will often bring out statements that are inconsistent with previous statements or even contradictory.

Suppression of Evidence

In sex crimes cases the suppression of evidence can be as important as the production of evidence to one’s defense. If photographs, computer files or other records were obtained from you, there are very strict search and seizure guidelines that the police must follow. Illegally obtained evidence cannot be used against you in court. In sex crimes cases, there are limited circumstances in which incriminating evidence can be suppressed. A motion to suppress is a Constitutional Right and an effective weapon in the hands of an experienced sex crimes defense attorney.

Other Defense Considerations

There several other reasons why a person would make false allegations of sexual abuse including: drug and alcohol abuse; mental illness; disdain for a stepparent or live-in boyfriend; and revenge. Whatever the motivation, an effective sex crimes defense demands expertise, particularly when the charges involve children. During your free consultation with Premier Defense Group, Tom or one of our other lawyers can review the details of your case and explain your options.

We Know How to Help

Tom Pavlinic and each lawyer affiliated with Premier Defense Group has extensive experience in defending against child sex abuse and other sex crimes charges. They are seasoned veterans of the courtroom with the ability to go to trial and present an aggressive, cogent defense, whenever and wherever the case demands.

They analyze the evidence, follow the rules of evidence and procedure and work together as a team, capitalizing on each attorney’s strengths so that you receive the most competent representation possible. This pool of dedicated legal talent is derived from jurisdictions across the country, not just from a single geographic area. <<SEE OUR CASE VICTORIES>>

Contact Us Day or Night

No matter where you reside, do not hesitate to contact us if you or one of your loved ones could even possibly be facing child sex abuse or other sex crimes charges. We’re here to help, but we can only do so if you will let us. Don’t make the huge, regrettable mistake of acting without legal representation, the most foolish course of action when dealing with the criminal justice system.

Acting promptly and aggressively is the key to protecting your freedom and ultimate well being. Call us at (800) 993-0632 or securely email us for a free, confidential legal consultation. We’re here for you 24 hours a day. We know how important your case is, and we want to protect you from the very outset.