Like all criminal cases, the burden of proof for a sex crime is on the government. No matter the circumstances or the persons involved, was the crime committed “beyond a reasonable doubt?” If you, a family member or loved one has been accused of a sex crime, here are some things you should know about charges of criminal sex crimes.
ARE THERE ULTERIOR MOTIVES?
Some arrests are made solely on the word of the victim. But victims do make things up. One of the first things a good defense attorney will do is to try to uncover ulterior motives that could have resulted in false testimony against the accused.
Some possibilities of the motives by which others may accuse someone of sexual misconduct include:
- Whenever an individual is caught having an affair, that person may allege sexual assault to cover up his or her own misconduct
- Instances where there has been a domestic dispute or a child custody case is pending
- Whenever a person is attempting to extort money from another person
- Teenagers who are angry over what they feel is too much parental control
WAS THERE CONSENT?
Many sexual acts are only crimes when one party fails to consent. For this reason, one of the most common defenses is that of consent. A defendant may argue that he or she did not commit a crime because the act was consensual. This can be difficult to do, since there are typically no witnesses to the sexual encounter. A few of the things that may be used to establish consent are:
- Text messages or emails between the parties that are sexual in nature
- Evidence that shows the two had been sexually intimate in the past
- Witness testimony concerning behavior prior to the encounter that might show the couple kissing, cuddling, etc.
In some cases, the alleged victim may argue that he or she was unable to consent due to mental incapacity, duress or involuntary intoxication. In that instance, it might be necessary to show that the accuser actually was capable of consenting to sex and was not incapacitated.
WAS THERE TAINTED QUESTIONING?
When a defendant is accused of sexual misconduct with a child, a common defense that may be used is “taint.” Tainted questioning occurs whenever children are asked questions in such a way that they answer them in a manner that incriminates another person. When asked leading questions, very young children tend to “go with the flow” in order to please the adults who are asking them. They may even develop false memories of events that did not actually ever happen.
To determine whether a child has been exposed to suggestive questioning, courts sometimes allow a taint hearing to take place before trial. This hearing will determine whether the questioning methods used would have automatically elicited a certain response. A child’s testimony may be dismissed if a judge determines tainting has occurred.
There are many other lines of investigation based on the circumstances of the charges. Like any criminal case, speaking to an experienced attorney as soon possible is the best possible reaction to criminal charges. Don’t wait!
This article is not intended to provide legal advice. For legal advice on any of the information in this post, please contact one of our attorneys. Browse our attorney profiles or contact us by phone: 805-452-7214.