A sex crime accusation can change your life. Say, you went out on a first date, and it seemed like it was going well. You had dinner, went to a bar, and ended with a peck on the cheek as you dropped your date off at their door. It went so well that you were already planning the next outing, only to find that your date filed a sexual assault report against you with the police. Or that is what the detective who spoke to you on the telephone said. Instances like this happen to parents, college students, professionals, teachers, coaches, camp counselors, and average New Jerseyans on a regular basis. Sex crimes have severe penalties attached to them, including the potential for mandatory registering as a sex offender. You do not want to risk sabotaging or mishandling your defense against sex crime charges. The criminal defense attorneys at our Ocean County defense firm who frequently and successfully handle sexual offense cases, from investigation through arrest, detention hearings, pre-indictment conferences, pre-trial discovery review, plea bargaining, pre-trial motions, and trial litigation, are the type of highly equipped legal professionals who can advise you about the dangers of missteps along the way of a sex crime case.
Asked to Come to the Police Station for Questions About a Sex Investigation
If a police detective asks you to come to the police station to answer a few questions regarding sexual misconduct, your attorney will advise you not to go alone. If police are investigating a crime, they may consider you a suspect, so you should not speak to them without an attorney present. Though you believe you didn’t do anything wrong, you should not talk to the police without legal counsel. The investigator’s job is to find the culprit of a crime. If you are on the list of suspects, they will contact you, not to find out if you are innocent but to prove you are guilty. And it is not unusual for police work to include an assumption that the suspect is guilty until a jury proves them innocent. That is not something you want to go up against unguided.
If a defendant, ignorant of the law, talks to the police, they may give the police the information they need to confirm their suspicions, even if all the suspect does is deny that they committed any crime. The police are trained in detective work and know how to extract what they need to justify an arrest from a suspect. If they are short on the details to place them at the precise location and day of the crime, for example, you may give them enough evidence to bolster their case against you. Since a suspect is at a tactical and legal disadvantage against the police, an accused should never go to the police station to answer questions without an attorney. They do not know the law or the legal procedures to get a suspect lined up for a grand jury indictment, but the police do.
Accused of a Sex Offense – Avoid Giving Evidence That May Be Used Against You
Sex crimes and mere allegations raise indisputable prejudices in police, prosecutors, and juries. Given the taboos against sex crimes, the growing movement in support of women victims of sex crimes, and the general unease about sex, in general, accusations of sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, lewdness, luring, child pornography offenses, or criminal sexual contact come with prejudgment. Investigators and juries assume you did the crime if someone came forward and accused you of it. As a result, sex crimes are treated with hostility by the police. And juries are more prone to convict without overwhelming evidence to show a victim’s motivations for lying, as is sometimes the case in child custody disputes.
Even still, prosecutors do not get handed slam dunk cases for every allegation of sexual impropriety. Case weaknesses include examples like the alleged victim waiting for a long time before reporting the crime, a lack of DNA evidence to identify the assailant, or the alleged victim’s unreliability as a witness. The last thing you want to do is help the prosecutor’s case or the police’s investigation by giving them what they need, like a confession or partial confession, even when you have no idea what you are confessing. You may be unaware that the person you took out on a date went to the police or someone you were dating reported you after their parents, friends, or significant other found out about your relationship. So, leaving a trail of evidence, like texting the alleged victim or posting on social media about what did or did not happen, can give the police enough evidence to charge and arrest you. Thus, your statements can come back to bite you in a later court proceeding when you testify under oath.
False Allegations of a Sex Crime but I Haven’t Been Indicted
Even if the victim decided not to press charges or the evidence was not strong enough to charge you, that does not mean that you are in the clear. The prosecutor can still take the police investigation to a grand jury. The court impanels a grand jury to determine if enough evidence exists to charge an accused with a crime. The grand jury reviews the prosecution’s evidence, supplied by the police investigation, and then returns either an indictment or no bill, which means there is insufficient evidence to charge the defendant with a crime. An indictment means the case goes forward. Typically, a defendant does not testify at the grand jury proceedings; only the prosecutor presents evidence.
On rare occasions, a prosecutor may invite the defendant to testify at the grand jury proceedings. However, only a defendant and their attorney can decide whether that is the right thing to do. Since the defendant must testify before the grand jury alone, without the aid of an attorney, the prosecutor can be brutal, try to confuse the defendant, and make them look discreditable to get an indictment if they believe their case is strong. Most attorneys agree that it is potentially too dangerous to leave the accused to fend for themselves. While sex crime accusations are disadvantageous to defendants, many cases rely on the victim’s statements since, typically, there are no other witnesses to the alleged crime. For that reason, a criminal defense attorney most likely will protect their client from giving more information than is necessary and under the guidance of legal counsel.
Charged With a Sex Crime and Not Sure if I Need to Hire an Attorney
The last thing a suspect in a sex crimes investigation wants to do is make the prosecutor’s case simpler. Without confirmation, the prosecutor must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt and establish each element of the crime or crimes charged. So, getting past the initial stages of a case from pre-arrest to arrest and indictment, remain silent or speak only in the presence of your attorney after thoroughly discussing the benefits and drawbacks given your unique situation. From post-indictment on, your attorney can protect and defend your rights at every turn, making sure that police and prosecutors operate legally and raising any improprieties surrounding the investigation, arrest, detention, evidence collection, and more.
From the initial allegations of a sex crime through the case resolution, your attorney can continue negotiating with the prosecution, pushing to dismiss the case if there is insufficient evidence to convict you beyond a reasonable doubt, and/or getting evidence thrown out if the police investigation is fraught with wrongdoing. Your attorney can often help you get released from jail after being arrested by arguing for your release at a detention hearing. From there, they can help you by plea negotiating the case to a conclusion or prepare it for trial if the prosecution’s case is weak. And during the pretrial hearings and discussions, your attorney can continue to work on the prosecutor, securing an offer to charge you with a lesser offense in exchange for a guilty plea, one that avoids sex offender registration, like harassment or lewd behavior, which is a disorderly persons offense in some cases.
Looking for a Lawyer Experienced with Defending Sex Crime Allegations in Ocean County
Since a sex crime conviction can end the freedom you enjoy as a private citizen and mar your reputation for a lifetime, you must make the right decisions from pre-arrest to trial. As a convicted sex offender, you must register with the state, so authorities and sometimes the public know where you are, who you are, and what your conviction entailed. And that is after potentially spending time in prison. Your job prospects disappear, and your relationships may disintegrate. With such dire consequences, do not wait to speak to an attorney for advice and assistance all along the way if you are under investigation for a sex crime.
The sex crimes defense lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law won’t allow you to become a victim of the system. If you have been contacted by police about a potential sex investigation, arrested for a sex crime, charged formally with an offense like sexual assault, or you have questions about false accusations that involve you or a loved one, contact our Point Pleasant Office at 848-238-2100 for a free consultation with an attorney who can help. We serve clients in all communities at the Jersey Shore, including Toms River, Brick, Stafford, Manchester, Seaside Heights, Lacey, Jackson, and Ocean Township. Contact us 24/7.