Sexual assault is one of the most serious crimes in Texas. Sexual assault carries steep punishments, including the potential for prison and sex offender registration. A charge of sexual assault can be made even more difficult if you have been falsely accused. False accusations of sexual assault – both by adults and by children – are common and can occur for a wide variety of reasons. If you have been falsely accused of sexual assault, an experienced sex crimes attorney can help maximize your chances of protecting your future and your freedom and clearing your name.
The reality is that in many sex cases, it does not take much evidence to charge someone with a very serious crime. In fact, many sex assault cases filed in the Greater Houston area are entirely based on the word of the complaining witness, without any supporting evidence. On the one hand, it makes sense that a crime like sexual assault, that is committed in private and concealed from others, would be a crime with minimal evidence. On the other hand, as a result of the fact that little evidence is needed, it creates an opportunity for a false accusation.
The first thing to understand about a false accusation of sexual assault is what your rights are regarding speaking to the police. In the United States, anyone accused of a crime has the absolute right to remain silent when questioned by the police. This means that you cannot get into trouble for refusing to talk to the police. In fact, the law against self-incrimination is so strong, that if you were to one day be on trial for a sex assault charge, a prosecutor couldn’t even argue that your refusal to talk to the police should be considered evidence of your guilt (in fact, an argument like that would be a serious violation on behalf of the prosecutor). If you are suspected of a sex crime, and the police want to take your statement, it is always a good idea to remain silent and speak with a sex crimes attorney immediately.
False accusations in sex assault cases happen for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common reasons for false accusations of sexual assault include false accusations made in the contexts of separations or divorce proceedings, or accusations made to obtain legal status (what is known as the U-Visa). On occasion, a troubled young person will make a false accusation of sexual assault to gain attention or use the false accusation to gain sympathy from others or get out of trouble at home or school. Sometimes, a false allegation of sexual assault can arise after a young child makes a comment that is misinterpreted as an outcry of sexual abuse.
In order to expose a false accusation is a sexual assault case, a criminal defense attorney must obtain all of the evidence. In a sex assault case, there is a huge amount of evidence that must be closely examined. This includes witness statements, police reports, medical records, therapy records and school records. When dealing with a false accusation, a sex crimes attorney will look to understand that motive to lie and to establish that the accusation is false. A sex crimes attorney should look for discrepancies in the way that an alleged victim tells the story.
One reason that sex crimes cases are difficult to defend is that the State will employ experts who will attempt to add credibility to any statement made by an alleged victim and attempt to minimize the significance of lapses of memory that the alleged victim might have. In a case involving a false accusation of sexual assault, the defense should consider hiring experts of its own, like psychologists, who can talk about the significance of any behaviors exhibited by an alleged victim.
Unfortunately, many prosecutors also seem to believe that no one claiming to be a victim in a sexual assault case could ever lie, and unless confronted with irrefutable proof that an accusation is false, will refuse to dismiss a case. This is one reason that sex assault cases frequently go to trial, and the reality is that many false accusations of sexual assault are not exposed until trial.
Due to the high likelihood of a prison sentence if the event of a guilty verdict (many types of sexual assault are not eligible for probation if the defendant is found guilty), a trial in a sexual assault case is a very high-risk situation. An experienced sex crimes attorney should have spent months gathering evidence and preparing a defense. A through defense at in a sexual assault trial should be much more than preparing to question the State’s witness. In order to expose a false allegation, it is often necessary for a sex crimes lawyer to work with his own experts, investigators and interview every witness with potentially relevant information.
One frequent question is whether the defendant in a sexual assault trial should testify. There is no clear answer. As noted above, the right against self-incrimination means that a defendant can’t be forced to testify, and the jury will be instructed that they can’t use the defendant’s failure to testify as evidence of guilt, or even discuss his failure to testify. Whether or not a defendant will testify is an issue that should be decided after careful consultation with a criminal defense attorney. Often, a final decision about whether a defendant takes the stand in a sex assault trial is not made until the defense is finished putting on the rest of its witnesses.
If you have been falsely accused of any sexual offense, including sexual assault of a child or indecency with a child you should talk to an experienced sex crime attorney right away. Whether you are under investigation, or are facing formal charges, it is critical that you take steps to protect yourself immediately. Call Ceja Law Firm today to speak to an experienced sex crimes attorney.