Defenses Against Sex Crimes
Defenses Against Sex Crimes in the State of Pennsylvania
If you have been charged with a West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania sex crime, you may be feeling hopeless—and helpless. Society tends to look much more harshly at those charged with a sex crime than for any other offense, and the fact that you can be arrested, based solely on the word of another person, does little to alleviate those feelings. Because you were arrested as the result of an accusation, you may wonder what, if anything, stands between you and a conviction. Unlike other crimes, if you are convicted of a sex offense, not only will you serve your sentence (probably prison time and a large fine), once you have served that sentence, you will continue to repay your debt to society, possibly for the remainder of your life, in the form of the sex offender registry. Get your defense team ready by contacting us now at (610) 692-8700.
Even some of the most minor sex offenses require registration on the Pennsylvania sex offender registry. You could be required to register for fifteen years—or for the rest of your life. If you are facing sex offense charges it is imperative that you contact an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney as soon as you have been charged (or earlier, if you have an idea you might be charged). There will be one thing standing between you and a conviction which will devastate your relationships, your job, your life. That one thing is an experienced attorney who will zealously fight for your rights and your future.
Whether you have been falsely accused of a crime you did not commit, or you made a serious mistake in your life, you need a person who will be in your corner from start to finish. Your attorney will understand the serious nature of a sex crime, and will do everything in his or her power to minimize the consequences you will face. While your defense will depend on the crime and the circumstances surrounding the crime, below you will read about some of the more common defenses used in allegations of a sexual crime.
Your Defense Begins Long Before Your Trial
If you have been falsely accused of a sex offense, your attorney knows the best time to attack the state’s case is before you ever get to trial. Since nearly all sex crime allegations are based on the word of the alleged victim, your attorney will thoroughly investigate that person and his or her background, to dispute the allegations. Most times, there must be an indictment from a grand jury against you before the prosecution can proceed with their case. Your attorney will work hard to avoid an indictment altogether, by presenting evidence to the grand jury which disputes your alleged victim’s claims. This evidence can include:
· The criminal history of the alleged victim;
· Education records;
· A psychological evaluation of the alleged victim;
· Test results of a polygraph given the alleged victim;
· Evidence from others that the alleged victim has made similar false allegations on prior occasions;
· Your lack of a criminal history;
· Your education records;
· Your psychological evaluation;
· Your polygraph test results, and
· Letters supporting your character.
Defenses Used at Trial
If your attorney is unable to stop the grand jury from issuing an indictment against you, then he or she will spend the time until your trial preparing a solid defense on your behalf. Perhaps the most challenging part of a successful defense strategy in sex offense cases comes with dealing with the emotions that accompany the case. There can be deep, complex emotions in a sex crime case, which can overwhelm reasonable doubt. When the jury sees the alleged victim as a vulnerable person who has been abused by a monstrous person, those perceptions can be difficult to overcome—even if you are absolutely innocent of the charges. For this reason, having the most experienced criminal defense attorney by your side is more crucial than in any other type of criminal case. Your attorney may build your defense on one of the following common defenses in sex offense cases:
· Actual innocence; i.e. you were misidentified, you were mistaken for someone else, or you were falsely accused as a result of revenge or anger on the part of the alleged victim. If you have a solid alibi for the time of the alleged offense, your attorney will have a much easier time with your defense. If you do not have an alibi, and you are the victim of false allegations, your attorney will have to show the jury what kind of person your accuser really is.
· You have psychological issues which prevented you from understanding what you were doing.
· Affirmative defense—you admit you committed the offense, but because of extenuating circumstances, the offense should not be considered a criminal act. Some examples of affirmative defenses include:
Ø You used no threat or force;
Ø You did not place the alleged victim under duress at the time of the alleged offense;
Ø The alleged victim consented to the sexual act;
Ø In a statutory rape case, you were not more than three years older than the alleged victim.
· If you are accused of sexual misconduct with a child, your attorney may be able to show that the child was subjected to biased and suggestive interviews, meaning the testimony was tainted. A parent, teacher, therapist or police officer may have asked the child leading questions, and the child, eager to please the adult could have answered “yes” to a question such as “Daddy touched you there, didn’t he?” The adult may or may not realize he or she is leading the child into a false answer, and may possibly be building false memories about an event that never happened.
· The police may have conducted an unlawful search and seizure if your alleged offense has to do with photographs or computer files. Illegally obtained evidence cannot be used against you in court.
· Your attorney may be able to show that your accuser has specific motivation for alleging a sex offense against you, such as:
Ø You are involved in a child custody dispute, and your child’s other parent is making false accusations of molestation or inappropriate sexual behavior in order to gain an advantage in family court. This could also happen in a contentious divorce—after all, if you are spending many years in prison, your ex will most likely receive all or most of the marital assets.
Ø Your accuser is lying about what was a consensual sexual encounter, in order to protect his or her own reputation, or to hide a casual sex encounter from parents, other family members or friends.
Ø You may have been accused of a sexual offense as a means of extorting money from you. This type of extortion is commonly seen in an employee bringing a false allegation against an employers or extortion associated with an extramarital affair.
If you have been accused of a sexual crime, you must act quickly to protect your reputation, your job, your family, and your future. The effects a conviction for a sex crime can have on your life are devastating—take the charges seriously, and contact a highly experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney immediately.
The sex crimes defense attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices have successfully represented individuals throughout the state of Pennsylvania that have been accused of sexual assault crimes. Our Chester County based law firm is based at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19380 and serves clients in Kennett Square, Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville,, Chester Springs, Chadds Ford, Landenberg, Honey Brook, Oxford, Malvern, Parkesburg, Phoenixville and . Contact us now at (610) 692-8700 or call toll free (877) 529-2422. Don’t wait—contact an attorney immediately.