Sexual Assault Lawyers in San Diego
If you have been accused of sexual assault, there are several possible defenses which you can use to counter those charges with the help of a sexual assault lawyer. The defendant in nearly any criminal proceeding will assert their own innocence, and sexual assault cases are not any different. In some cases, the defendant in a sexual assault case may admit to performing the actions accused but will argue that the actions do not amount to sexual assault. Rarely, defendants may admit to committing the crime, while arguing that they should not bear the responsibility for those actions due to some mental incapacity. Sexual assault attorneys can help defendants in formulating the soundest defense for your particular situation.
Proving Innocence with Your Sexual Assault Lawyers
In most sexual assault cases, the most common and basic defense is the claim of actual innocence. In this defense, it is argued that you actually did not perform the actions that lead to your sexual assault charges. With the help of your sexual assault attorneys, you may argue that you could not have performed the actions in question due to being in a different location entirely at the time – a defense well known as an alibi. In order to mount a successful alibi defense, your alibi needs to be supported by evidence that shows that you were not present with the victim at the time the crime is alleged to have occurred.
One of the best ways to mount an alibi defense for your charges will be to use specific receipts and financial records. If a receipt, bill of sale, or another piece of documentation can place you across town, or in another town entirely, at the time of the crime, this is a solid alibi. Typical documentation to support an alibi includes hotel receipts, bus or plane tickets, credit card records, and last but not least, witness testimony to corroborate your story.
If an alibi is not the best case for your own defense, sometimes defendants in a sexual assault case will claim that they have been misidentified as the perpetrator. This is especially common if the victim and alleged perpetrator were, and are, essentially strangers. Just as in the case of an alibi, you and your sexual assault lawyers will need to assemble evidence to support your claim that you were not the person the victim believes you to be. Commonly, DNA evidence is used to reliably and accurately establish a defendant’s presence.
For the prosecuting attorneys in a sexual assault case, they bear the burden of proving that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is the job of yourself and your sexual assault lawyers to raise a reasonable doubt as to whether you are guilty of the crime. If you and your sexual assault lawyers can manage to do this, you can be acquitted – that is our goal as sexual assault lawyers.
The Question of Consent in a Sexual Assault Case
At times, the defendant in a case of sexual assault will admit to performing the acts in question but will argue that the acts were consensual. In this case, the consent of the victim negates the nature of the charges. One of the key elements in any sexual assault case is that the sexual acts in question are forced upon the victim against his or her will. If a defendant is able to demonstrate that the victim gave consent to sexual contact, this can be a strong defense against sexual assault allegations.
Proving consent can be a difficult task for you and your sexual assault lawyer – not to mention controversial. Often, defendants are not able to show direct evidence of consent and instead will try to use the previous sexual history of the victim to imply consent. This can easily backfire with a jury and can serve to paint you as the defendant in a very negative light. Your sexual assault attorney will almost certainly advise against this type of defense.
Moreover, in some cases, it is simply impossible to prove consent one way or the other. In instances where the victim is under the age of 18, for example, or if the victim is mentally challenged or otherwise not capable of understanding the sexual nature of the acts in question, it is simply not possible to prove any kind of consent.
Different states require different levels of awareness regarding the victim’s ability to give consent. If the defendant, for example, argues that he or she honestly believed that a victim who is a minor was older than the age of consent, that claim will be held to different standards in different states. Your sexual assault attorney can advise you as to the particular nuances of this line of defense in your case.
In certain cases, a defendant is allowed to claim mistaken consent, as long as that defendant was not reckless in overlooking the victim’s inability to consent. In this case, as long as it can be shown that you did not behave irresponsibly, you and your sexual assault attorney may be able to claim that you honestly believed the victim gave consent.
If You Have Been Charged with Sexual Assault, Consult an Experienced Sexual Assault Lawyer
If you find yourself accused of sexual assault, this can be a very stressful situation. Your reputation is at stake, along with it, your criminal record, and quite possibly your freedom. You understandably may have many questions about the possible defenses for sexual assault, including questions regarding potential registration as a sex offender. By working with a sexual assault lawyer, you will be able to get answers to all of these questions as well as constructing the best possible defense.
Sexual Assault Statistics
Nearly any discussion of sexual assault in this country today will include the possibility of false allegations, and this is a fairly controversial dispute. In a study in 2010 among all cases of sexual assault in a major university over a period of ten years, and out of all 136 reported instances of sexual assault, 8 of these were judged to be false allegations. This amounts to just under 6% of all cases. In the context of similar research, this seems to indicate that the frequency of false allegations of sexual assault ranges somewhere between 2-10% of all reported cases. This may sound like a relatively small number of cases, but if you find yourself among this percentage of cases, it can make a huge difference.
If You Have Been Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault
If you or someone close to you has been falsely accused of sexual assault, the experience can be nothing short of devastating. Many of us believe that the legal system assures us that innocent people are not convicted of crimes, but unfortunately, this can and does happen – particularly when a defendant does not work with a sexual assault lawyer to construct a solid and strong defense. If you have been falsely accused of sexual assault, here are a few essential steps you should take right away:
First, and most importantly, consult with an experienced sexual assault attorney as soon as you are able.
Next, it is important that you realize the seriousness of false accusations. You know that you are innocent, but others do not. The fact that the allegations are false does not mean that you don’t need to take them seriously or deal with them.
In preparing for your case, it is vital that you document your experience by writing down as many details as possible. We will go into more detail on this step later. While doing this, take the time to educate yourself using the many good sources, including those on the internet, which are available to provide information about the law regarding sexual offenses, and how the legal system relates to them.
Finally, it is vital anytime you are accused of a crime that you know your own rights. If you find yourself questioned by police, you do not need to say anything beyond “I am exercising my right to remain silent and wish to consult with a sexual assault lawyer.” You are also guaranteed the right to legal representation, but we highly recommend working with an experienced sexual assault attorney rather than trusting a public defender who may not be as experienced with sexual assault cases.
Now, we will present a list of five things to do after being charged with sexual assault in addition to these essential steps.
Five Things You Should Do After Being Accused of Sexual Assault
Familiarize yourself with the consequences of the crime with which you are charged. This will be difficult, particularly if you are falsely accused. Unfortunately, most people will slip into some sort of denial regarding the kind of trouble they find themselves in. Consequently, it becomes easy to fail to do necessary things, landing one’s self in deeper legal trouble.
Educate yourself. Though you are working (hopefully) with an experienced sexual assault lawyer, it is always good to ensure that you are as educated as you can possibly be about the sexual assault laws and penalties for your state. You cannot defend yourself from a state of ignorance, so the best thing that you can do right now once you have consulted with a sexual assault attorney is to start reading and learning from reputable legal sources online. Often, the best outcomes in a case come from a fully informed, fully engaged client.
Create a timeline. Document everything. Build a witness list. Be as thorough as you can and go through the events just as they played out. Do you have documentation to back up every single event on your timeline? Do you have witnesses who can corroborate your timeline? As you compile a list of witnesses, collect names, addresses, phone numbers, places of employment, and other vital info on index cards for easy sorting later. Not sure if a witness will be on your side or not? Write them down anyway – it is better not to limit yourself than to be surprised later. Your sexual assault lawyer will be able to determine which witnesses are valuable and which are not.
Keep yourself in check. It is all too easy in a sexual assault case to become one’s own worst enemy. Watch everything that you say and do – even an off-hand ill-considered comment can ruin your case. An experienced sexual assault lawyer can help to get you prepared and confident to handle yourself as early as possible in your case.
Don’t give up. No matter how dire your case seems, no matter how poorly you think public opinion reflects upon you, never give up. Work closely with your sexual assault lawyer – your closest allies in this case – and present the strongest defense you can, as confidently and as clearly as you can. It isn’t over, as they say until it’s over.
Remember that if you are questioned by the police, anything you say can and will be used against you. You do not need to answer any police questions or speak to them at all if they come to your home. If you have been arrested or are being interrogated, the only thing you need to say is that you are invoking your right to remain silent and that you wish to speak with a skilled sexual assault lawyer. This is an important distinction because simply clamming up, rather than invoking your right to remain silent, can result in increased agitation on the part of the police and a more intense battery of questioning. Stating clearly that you wish to exercise your right to remain silent will stop all questioning immediately, saving everyone a great deal of frustration, not to mention eliminating the possibility of inadvertently losing your cool and harming your case.
If you have been charged with sexual assault, whether you are falsely accused, it is a case of a misunderstanding of consent or of age, mistaken identity, or if your version of events simply do not line up with the accusations you are facing, act quickly. Do not take the charges against you lightly, even if you know that you are innocent – contact an experienced sexual assault lawyer today and work to mount the strongest, most comprehensive, coherent, and definitive defense that you can.