What if I am Accused of a Sex Crime?
First of all, take the Fifth.* Remain silent and get a lawyer.
Second, understand this: sex crimes are tough. Sex crimes are simultaneously the most heinous crimes to be accused of committing, the hardest crimes to disprove once you are accused, but also the easiest crimes to falsely accuse (and convict) an innocent person of committing.
This article is my follow up to previous posts where I said that it does not matter whether or not you committed a crime when I represent you, with two possible exceptions: Sex crimes and crimes involving substance abuse.
There are several reasons that it matters whether you are guilty of a sex crime when you are confronting the legal system in Washington State. The two primary reasons have to do with proof and sentence options. Let me explain.
Trust me, it can be easy to get witnesses in sex cases to contradict themselves, look like liars and generally lose their ability to convince anyone that anything ever happened. Every good criminal defense attorney knows what I am talking about. It is what happens in trial, when ordinary people find themselves in extraordinary situations.
We do what we can to show that there may be missing pieces of evidence, inconsistencies, undue influence from investigators and family members who script out the witness’ answers through the use of leading and suggestive questions, and much more. There is plenty to cross-examine witnesses about when they are testifying about things like rape and child molestation.
But, there is also this: Jurors are not fools. Witnesses either had something happen to them or they didn’t. It’s not like an eye witness to an armed robbery who picks out the only black man in the court room, a man they had never seen before or since the robbery occurred (if then). It’s fathers or uncles or aunts or sisters who commit most sex crimes. ID is generally not an issue.
And, if the molestation or rape or indecent liberties or communication with a minor for immoral purposes really did indeed take place, the witness is telling the truth. And jurors know that.
But, there is another, probably better reason that it matters if you are really guilty when accused of committing a sex crime. There is help available, in most cases.
Sentence Options (SSOSA’s)
In Washington state a Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA) is available for individuals charged with certain sex crimes, who are willing to admit that they are guilty and that they need help with their problem or they will be at risk to reoffend, and, above all, who are willing to commit to years of specialized intensive treatment.
It is not an easy way out. No. It requires admitting that you have a problem to begin with, followed by years of steadfast dedication to working on that problem every hour of every day, doing everything in your power to get well. But, in many cases it can be a way to avoid years of prison where you will only get worse, not better, and instead try to fix yourself.
Don’t misunderstand. As noted, sex crimes are also notoriously difficult for innocent people to fight. It goes both ways. Plus, innocent people won’t succeed on SSOSA’s. They will fail every single test that requires you to admit that you have a problem. The only problem innocent people have is being falsely accused of a crime or crimes they did not commit. They will be deemed evasive and dishonest and in denial if they so much as hint that they are not guilty. So, if you are truly innocent you need a lawyer who gets that. And knows how to fight back.
I’ll say it again. Sex crimes are tough. Many lawyers refuse to take them.
I understand that. But, if not me, then who? Who is going to help someone who is vilified by society, perhaps falsely accused, and if not, in great need of help, if not me?
So, again, you see. It really doesn’t matter to me whether you are guilty or not. If you are not, then you need to put the Government’s case to the test. If you are, then you need to give some thought to taking advantage of the help that is available out there. Me? I’ll help you either way. It’s what I do.
*Nothing in this blog is intended to be legal advice. Every case is different. If you are facing even the potential of being charged with any kind of crime, get a lawyer to help you. That is the most important thing you can do.