Why Sex Crimes Cases Are Unique

In our country, the United States Constitution says that all persons charged with a crime stand, before all the courts of each and every state, innocent until proven guilty. In addition, the Constitution mandates that the prosecution must prove the defendant’s guilt, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The accused does not have to prove anything and can invoke his right to remain silent.

The legal process also allows for the picking of an “impartial, unbiased” jury panel of 12 citizens who must follow the judge’s instructions and agree unanimously on guilt before a conviction can be entered. These lofty principles are the foundation of the American criminal justice system. But, as a practical matter, they do not seem to apply to sex crimes charges, especially when the alleged victim is a child.

What makes a sex crime accusation so unique is that these bedrock Constitutional concepts are often turned upside down when it comes to defending such offenses. Experienced sex crimes attorneys see the prejudice and bias that characterize all the unfortunate individuals who are so charged. There exists a perception in the courts that the accused must prove his innocence.

The myths prevail:

  • “children don’t lie,”
  • “something must have happened,”
  • “he looks like a molester”
  • and all the other small-minded nonsense

More importantly the system is controlled by incompetent social workers, heavy-handed police officers, zealous prosecutors and, most regrettably, prosecution-oriented judges who believe they must err on the side of the state in order to “protect the children.” They blindly carry out this mandate without regard to the human carnage they leave in their wake, more often than not harming the actual children and families they are sworn to protect.

Other Reasons

Unlike with most other types of criminal cases:

  • people can more easily be convicted of sex crimes based solely upon the testimony of the accuser, especially if he or she is a child
  • due to the public’s view on these types of cases, the State will use its resources unsparingly to get a conviction
  • the State often has a staff of prosecutors whose expertise is prosecuting those accused of sex crimes
  • prosecutors will utilize lawful but unfair legal “exceptions” that apply only to minors, such as hearsay exceptions
  • the State is often not required to prove that an offense occurred on a certain date, or on certain dates
  • prosecutors may incite the emotions of jurists to secure a conviction
  • the prosecutor has no need to develop a motive
  • the Defense is always tasked with answering the “Why” question for jurists, i.e., why would the child say this if it weren’t true?
  • cross examination of children witnesses must be done thoroughly, yet with care as to not offend the jury