This series – Dealing with a sexual assault allegation from beginning to end
Part II – What if I am accused of a crime, especially a sex crime I didn’t commit?
Being accused of any crime is a serious matter that WILL impact every aspect of your life, which is why in Part I, we discussed our holistic approach to criminal defense. A sex crime or a Title IX accusation can affect anyone – an office professional, a truck driver, a college student, a single person, or a married or divorced parent. Regardless of your occupation, age, or status, defending a sex crime accusation takes a lawyer who is passionate about shielding you from the fallout during and after the accusation.
If you are a licensed professional accused of a sex crime you could not only lose your current job but also your professional license. If you are a public figure or in a public job, you will not only have to answer to your boss, board members, and a court, but to the court of public opinion. You may be forced to resign or make a public apology before you even get indicted. You can face scrutiny for years to come. You WILL lose friends, and so will your family. How will your kids deal with the social media attention they receive before you get the chance to warn them? How will it affect them at school, with their teachers, their coaches, neighborhood friends, and their friends’ parents? Taking a holistic approach to defense involves anticipating and preventing as many of these repercussions as possible.
If you are a college or high school student, how will a sex crime accusation affect your ability to stay in school and get an education? You may be suspended or expelled. You may not have the financial support to continue higher education. It will strain your relationship with parents, friends, and social media contacts and followers. How will it affect future jobs, relationships?
If you are divorced or have a shared parenting agreement, the other parent may use the sexual assault allegation against you. With a combination of loss of financial support, your home, potential felony charges, jail time, and lack of a place for your kids to visit, your ex may not only end shared-parenting and visitation, but they are likely to pursue full custody of your kid/s. When prevention of these occurrences is not possible, reducing the damages and quickly responding to the unexpected is key.
Finally, being accused, especially of a crime you didn’t commit, will take an emotional toll on you. Whether you go to jail or prison (There is a difference!), are found not guilty, or are acquitted of all charges, you will have to answer questions from family, friends, employers, and others about what happened, forcing you to relive some of the worst memories of your life. If you are required to register as a sex offender, your peace of mind will constantly be affected with concerns of violations regarding where you live and travel.
In all these cases, a sexual assault or Title IX allegation will affect life abruptly and without warning. If you go to jail while the case is being processed in the courts, you will have almost no access to family, friends, or resources. You won’t be able to explain anything to anyone except maybe your attorney when they visit the jail. Phone calls from jail are recorded, and they can be used against you. While you’re awaiting arraignment (when you plead not guilty, guilty, or no contest), and indictment (when the grand jury agrees or disagrees that the prosecution can move forward with the case), your friends, family and colleagues will have already seen the news and social media comments without your side of the story. Other inmates will also know why you’re there, and you may face emotional and physical abuse.
What Kind of Attorney Do You Contact and When?
While the procedures may vary from state to state or county to county, it is imperative that you contact a sex crimes attorney with experience in defending sex crime allegations at the very beginning stages. A criminal defense firm with tried-and-true operating procedures can often get to work on your case more quickly than the prosecutor’s office. They will be able to cooperate with the police while preserving your rights. Being cooperative without implicating yourself is extremely important at every stage of the process from the investigation to a potential trial and sentencing. In many cases, a good defense attorney can prevent charges from ever occurring by identifying procedural injustices or by revealing the true motives of the accuser.
The best and first rule if you are accused of a crime you didn’t commit, is DO NOT to talk to police without a qualified attorney who will work alongside you every step of the way, returning your phone calls and checking up on you throughout your case.