Many people are shocked to find out they are accused of sexual assault. The police may come to make an arrest and the “suspect” is confused about who accused them of sexual assault and when the accusation came out. It may have involved an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend, one-night stand, or former friend who they never even had sex with.
Unfortunately for the accused, a false claim of sexual assault can cause serious harm to an innocent person, even if they are never convicted of any crime. However, many innocent people plead guilty to sexual battery because the prosecutor makes it seem like they have no other choice.
Before pleading guilty to a sexual assault charge, make sure you talk to an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney about your rights. Contact Bryan J. Jones, LLC in Charlottesville today.
Why Would Someone Lie About Sexual Assault?
Sexual battery and other sex crimes are serious charges. Sex crimes carry severe penalties and can even require a lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender. Penalties can include jail time, fines, exclusion from certain professions, and even restrictions on where they can live. Why would someone lie about a sexual assault when it can be so devastating for the falsely accused?
There are many reasons the alleged victim or another person may make false claims of sexual assault. Initially, they may not intend to see an innocent person go to jail or ruin their lives. It may start as talking about the incident with a friend and get out of control when they are pressured to report it as a crime. Some motivations for false sexual assault or attempted sexual assault claims include the following:
Regret Having Sex
There can be a lot of emotional feelings tied up with sex. People often feel guilty after having sex, because of the type of sex they had, how the other person reacted, who the other person was, or simply because they had sex. People often feel very differently right before having sex, during having sex, and after having sex. A strong feeling of regret may motivate someone to claim that they were forced into having sex even if they consented at the time.
Religious Guilt and Loss of Virginity
For religious families in Virginia, virginity can be a big deal. Some people attach a moral meaning to virginity and feel sinful after having sex, even if the sex was consensual. This can create a strong sense of guilt after having sex and the only way to reconcile this guilt is to claim that sex was not consensual. Religious family members may also pressure the individual into claiming sexual assault to avoid being ostracized by the family.
Drunken sex after hooking up is not uncommon for young people in college. Alcohol can affect a person's judgment, memory, and risk-taking behavior. Some people end up doing things when drunk that they would never do while sober, including drunk driving, fighting, or having sex.
According to one study, a sample group of college students reported on “hooking up” and alcohol consumption. The study concluded, “the combination of alcohol and unfamiliar partners was associated with engaging in advanced sexual behaviors as well as greater levels of retrospective discontentment and regret.”
Cover for Infidelity
When someone is caught cheating, they may go to extreme measures to avoid responsibility. If a spouse or partner confronts the other about evidence of sexual activity, the other person may claim that they were the victim of rape instead of admitting to infidelity. The innocent person accused of assault may not have even known the other person was in a relationship and now has to face criminal sexual battery charges.
Attention and Playing the Victim
Individuals may lie about being the victim of assault in order to justify abuse of others, for manipulation, or to seek attention. By acting as a victim of a sex crime, some accusers get pity or sympathy that they can use to get something, including financial support. Playing the victim can also be used to emotionally manipulate others.
Playing the victim can be used as a way to get attention. Some people will go to extreme measures to get attention, including falsely accusing someone of sexual assault. By claiming to be the victim of sexual assault, the alleged victim may be able to get attention from friends and family. It can also distract from other negative aspects of the alleged victim's life, like drug or alcohol problems, bad grades, or unemployment.
Friends Convince Them of Sexual Assault
There is not always a clear line with consent, especially when alcohol or drugs are involved. When someone talks to a friend about regret after sex with someone, the friend may try and convince them that they are a victim of assault. Peer pressure can be a strong motivator and can even make someone falsely accuse someone of sexual battery or rape.
Mental illness can distort reality for individuals suffering from delusions or hallucinations. Mental illnesses and disorders can make people believe things that never happened, cause feelings of paranoia, and report sexual assaults that never occurred. The police may be quick to respond to a false claim of sexual assault before gathering the facts or giving the accused a chance to give their side of the story.
How Do You Challenge False Sexual Assault Claims?
When a sexual assault case comes down to “he said, she said,” your voice matters. Many innocent people accused of sexual assault end up pleading guilty because they do not think that a jury will believe them over the alleged victim. However, your lawyer can build a strong defense against sexual assault charges, including showing:
- The alleged victim made contradictory statements,
- The evidence does not match the story,
- The alleged victim had a history of false accusations, or
- The alleged victim had a motive to make a false sexual assault claim.
There may also be a lot of evidence in support of your defense on the accuser's phone or computer. Your lawyer may be able to gather evidence from their online activities, including getting texts, messages, or pictures that the user deleted to try and hide evidence.
Experienced Sexual Assault Defense Attorney in Charlottesville, VA
If you are falsely accused of sexual assault in Charlottesville, contact Bryan J. Jones today. Virginia prosecutors are already working on their case against you, so it is important to get started on your defense as soon as possible.