Defenses to Sex Crimes
Defending sex crimes is no simple task. In many cases, the crimes are not reported until years, or even decades after the alleged acts. Other cases have no physical evidence, and are based solely on testimony, often of a child, in a he-said-she-said back and forth. Since sex crimes carry harsh penalties, including lifetime sex offender status, the defense should be taken extremely seriously. Defendants will only get one shot at defending their case, and should seek out a legal defense team who specializes in defending sex crime cases. Common defenses include: entrapment, consent, reasonable belief as to age/mistake of fact, false allegations, statute of limitations, and false memory.
Entrapment can be a possible defense for someone charged with a sex crime; however, it is difficult to prove. For entrapment, the defendant would have to show that the police caused them to commit a crime that they would otherwise not be willing to engage in. If the police merely create the opportunity for crime, that is not enough for entrapment.
Consent of the individuals involved is a defense to some sex crimes. However, in some cases consent is not a defense, such as in child molestation cases. The law has determined that a child (someone under 18) cannot legally consent to sexual activity and that sex between an adult and a minor is statutorily considered a type of rape. If the accuser is a minor under 14, and a person is charged with child molestation, consent is also not a defense. Additionally, some people are not deemed to be able to consent to sex, due to intoxication or mental or physical disability.
Reasonable Belief as to Age/Mistake of Fact
A reasonable belief that the accuser was 18 years of age may be a defense to certain sex crimes. A person must have an actual and reasonable belief that the accuser was 18 years or older at the time of the sexual act and that he/she consented to the sexual activity. This defense does not apply to crimes such as child molestation where the accuser is under 14 years old.
Some people can make false allegations of sexual abuse, without regard for the harmful effects on the innocent victim. Accusers can lie about sexual abuse as a way to get back at a teacher, employer, or ex-boyfriend. Others may lie to get money, or blackmail the innocent person. Hotly contested custody battles can escalate to the point where a parent falsely accuses the other of abuse, and coerce the child into confirming the abuse.
Even if later cleared of any wrongdoing, false allegations have lasting effects on the accused. Social stigma often brands people accused of child abuse or sexual abuse, who assume guilt no matter what the actual facts are. Emotional hysteria can influence parents, children, and law enforcement. This can result in false abuse claims, such as the Satanic ritual sex abuse hysteria of the 1980s.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the time limit for prosecuting a crime. The length of time depends on the crime, but some crimes have no statute of limitations. In 2015, California's statute of limitations for child sex abuse was increased dramatically. Now people who were sexually abused as minors can seek criminal charges against the alleged assailants until they are 40-years-old (up from 28-years-old). This means that, subject to some technical legal exceptions, a person who allegedly abused a 5-year-old can still face abuse charges for 45 years.
Our memories are far from perfect. As time goes on, memories become less clear, and often less reliable. This is a problem when someone is innocently charged for sexual abuse based only on a repressed memory with no corroboration. Memories can be suggested and remembered as true, just as they can be forgotten and later remembered. False memories are memories that did not occur. They can be strongly believed although factually incorrect.
Other times, a person may incorrectly identify the person responsible for abuse. This transfer of remembered facts is known as perpetrator substitution. Psychiatrists and memory experts can explore the accusers memory to help the jury determine whether it is a true memory, or a false memory or confabulation.
Defense Team Investigation
This is one of the most important aspects to creating a strong defense strategy. Information is power in sex crime cases. The more information we gather, the better we will be able to defend your case. Our in-depth investigation will leave no stone unturned. We will subpoena all relevant records, including police, ISP, computer, school, military, employment, medical and mental health records for expert analysis. We will interview or depose anyone relevant to the case, including the accuser, their family members, friends, or coworkers. We will also use collateral interviews in support of your case. We may use a private investigator to gather additional evidence. Additionally, we may seek expert evaluations to show you were telling the truth, have no risk factors, no predatory behavior, and no history of offenses.
An expert witness offers their specialized opinion in a court case, as a way to assist the judge and jury, on particular subject matter beyond the knowledge of the average person. An expert often has the specialized education, training, experience or skill in a subject area. In many sex crime cases, we will engage expert witnesses in support of our defense strategy.
Private Investigator: obtain witness statements, conduct background and records searches, investigate the motive of the accuser, obtain information to discredit the accuser, obtain good character evidence on behalf of the defendant.
Medical Professionals: evidence of sexual contact; analysis of alleged injuries, opinion on the victim's account of events; age determination.
Psychiatrists/psychologists: psychological evaluations; memory; sex offender evaluation; mitigating factors; and criminal responsibility.
Computer Forensics: internet identity and accessibility, forensic analysis of digital evidence; analysis of internet usage.
Forensic Scientists: DNA testing; fingerprint, hair, saliva, semen, injury analysis
Polygraph Experts: polygraph and lie detector examinations and reliability.
Child Abuse Experts: victim reaction; suggestive interviews; and false memory.
Sex Crime Defense Lawyers
Contact the offices of White Goldstein to speak with an attorney who specializes in defending people accused of sex crimes. We understand that you only get one shot at this, and will provide you or your loved one with superior legal representation. We are dedicated to giving our clients the highest level of service. Using our team strategic approach, we will thoroughly investigate the charges you or your loved one face and will tirelessly work to have them dismissed.
Free Confidential Consultation
Call White Goldstein today at (310) 295-1810 for a free, confidential consultation.