Anytime you face a sex offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia you face potentially serious consequences. Convictions can result in high fines, long prison sentences, and registration as a sex offender. Even being charged with a sex crime can impact your reputation in the community.
Just because you are charged with a sex crime does not mean that you have to be convicted. You have constitutional rights, and with the help of an experienced Virginia criminal attorney, you can protect those rights. If you have been charged with a sex offense in Virginia, contact Bryan J. Jones, LLC in Charlottesville today.
Immediate Action to Defend Your Rights
A lot of sex crime cases develop over time. This may involve rumors of allegations of sexual abuse or someone spreading false accusations. A sex crime case can begin with a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation or internal investigation in a private company. Taking immediate steps as soon as you learn about sex crime allegations, rumors, or an investigation can help protect you before it turns into criminal charges.
Right to an Attorney
The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution gives you the right to an attorney in criminal prosecutions. An attorney will act as an advocate on your behalf. Your lawyer will represent you and your interests. There are confidentiality protections with most communications between you and your attorney.
It is important to contact your attorney as soon as you are aware of any allegations or investigation against you. You may have the right to have a lawyer represent you in your company's investigation, administrative proceeding, or before a government investigation. The sooner you act, the sooner you will have a defender of your rights to stand by your side through the difficult time.
Right to Remain Silent
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution gives you the right to remain silent and protects you from being compelled to say something that would incriminate you. It is only natural to try to speak out to defend yourself when someone accuses you of doing something wrong. However, your words can be used against you. Silence may be the best option.
The prosecutors, investigators, and police are experienced in interrogating suspects. Even if you are completely innocent of any crime, law enforcement may be able to get you to admit to things that make you look guilty. If you are going to be questioned by the police, say you want to remain silent until you can talk to your lawyer. Your attorney can help protect you and make sure the police and prosecutors don't take advantage of you.
Avoid Further Contact With the Alleged Victim
One of the common problems people charged with sex crimes face is trying to talk to the alleged victim or other parties. For example, if someone falsely accuses another of date rape, the accused often wants to talk to the accuser to clear it up, try and understand why they are claiming rape, or get to the bottom of the false charges. However, contacting the alleged victim directly can cause problems.
Contacting the alleged victim may be in violation of a protective order or restraining order. Even trying to contact the person by email or talking to their family member may be a violation of the order and could result in criminal charges or contempt of court.
Another problem with talking to the alleged victim is that they may be trying to set you up to say something they can use against you. Saying the wrong thing could be taken out of context and be used as evidence in the prosecutor's case. Talk to your attorney about what you can do to clear up the accusations without talking to the accused directly.
The Prosecutor Has the Burden to Prove All Elements of the Offense
The prosecutor has the burden of proof in a criminal case. This means it is up to the prosecutor to prove you are guilty and not up to you to prove you are innocent. In order to get a guilty verdict, the prosecutor has to prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is a little bit of doubt as to only one element of the crime, you should be found not guilty.
Suppress Evidence After Unlawful Search or Seizure
There are a number of possible defense strategies to use in court. This includes pretrial motions before a trial begins. Pretrial motions in a sex crime case are generally aimed at suppressing or keeping certain evidence out of court. In a successful motion to suppress evidence, the prosecutor may not have a strong case and may have to drop the charges.
Challenging evidence in a pretrial motion can be based on claims that the evidence was gathered illegally in violation of the defendant's Constitutional rights. When evidence is collected in violation of the defendant's rights against unlawful search or seizure, that evidence may be suppressed. For example, if the police do not get a search warrant and conduct an illegal search of the defendant's car and find evidence of a crime, the evidence should be excluded based on the unlawful search by the police.
He Said, She Said Investigations
A lot of sex crimes, including sexual battery or rape, have no other witnesses other than the alleged victim and the accused. Without witnesses and limited physical evidence, these cases may come down to a “he said, she said,” situation. Your life and liberty may be at stake so it is important to have your attorney fully explore the facts and investigate the case to identify inconsistencies in the alleged victim's version of what happened and find evidence to cast doubt on the victim's story.
Consent Can Be a Defense
In some criminal cases, including rape, consent is generally a defense. If the alleged victim consented to sex, the accused should not be found guilty of a crime.
Adults Can Influence Child Testimony
Many sex crime cases are based on false accusations by minors. Unfortunately, it may be another adult who influences the child to make the false claims. When adults, including parents, stepparents, or counselors, make suggestive statements to children, children often go along with the suggestive statements, even if they are not true. A suggestive or biased interview of a minor child could taint the entire investigation and the results of the investigation may be challenged.
Contact an Experienced Sex Crime Defense Attorney in Charlottesville, VA
If you have been charged with a sex offense in Virginia, you need to contact a smart, experienced criminal defense attorney today. Bryan J. Jones is committed to his clients and puts forth defense strategies that work. Contact his office in Charlottesville to begin building your defense.