Being charged with a sex crime of any kind is a very serious offense in our state. It is crucial to arm yourself with the knowledge and representation you need before you end up facing the negative ramifications associated with a conviction.
The best way to ensure you have to greatest chance at a positive outcome is to work with a Chicago sex crime lawyer with a track record of success handling these types of cases.
In the meantime, here are a few universal strategies and defenses in fighting back against sex crime charges.
These kinds of crimes can affect every aspect of your life. Protect yourself from hefty fines, lengthy jail (or prison) time, and serious damage to your personal and professional relationships by acting quickly, declining questioning, and getting the help of an experienced legal professional who can help you decide on the best defense strategy.
All sex crimes involve non-consensual sexual contact, and often, these situations occur with no witnesses. Because of this, physical evidence is incredibly important, and there are certain types of evidence in these kinds of cases that must be collected quickly — or not at all.
Don’t lose your case by waiting too long.
DECLINE ALL STATEMENT & INTERVIEW REQUESTS
Understandably, when accused of a crime this serious in nature, your first inclination may be to try and clear your name.
Fight this urge.
Remember, the job of law enforcement and other government agencies involved is to punish people for wrongdoing. Their goal is to convict you, and sometimes even the most innocent explanation may be manipulated to appear as an admission of guilt.
Politely decline all statement and interview requests. Do not answer any questions regarding alleged crimes. Finally, make sure you request that your attorney be present for anything further.
DECIDE YOUR DEFENSE
Work with your experienced criminal defense attorney to develop a sound defense. The prosecution holds the burden of proof. In other words, they must prove you beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty.
Your attorney’s duty, in contrast, is to raise doubts about their arguments against you.
There are three primary defenses against sex crimes: insanity, innocence, and consent.
Insanity (or Mental Incapacity) – If it can be proven that disease or a defect prevented a defendant from understanding the criminal nature of their actions at the time of the crime, criminal liability for those actions may be removed.
This is an extremely difficult defense to utilize, however, so it is used only in rare and very specific situations.
Innocence – Claiming actual innocence is the most basic defense, and there are two common ways to prove it. Sometimes a defendant will have both.
Alibi: If you were in a different location at the time of the alleged crime, and provide credible evidence to that effect, you are ‘presenting an alibi.’ Types of evidence include time stamped receipts, event tickets, credit card bills, and witness corroboration.
DNA: When law enforcement or other investigators collect DNA evidence, this can accurately and reliably establish innocence.
Your attorney may also request a confidential evaluation by a Forensic Psychologist or Psychiatrist to demonstrate that you do not fit the criteria of a pedophile, pose risk to reoffend, or display symptoms of a sexual predator. Written evaluations may be used in negotiations or be submitted as evidence at trial.
Consent – Sexual assault is defined as sexual behavior occurring against the will of the victim. If a defendant demonstrates the victim consented to the contact, then you have a solid defense. However, this can be difficult to prove.
There usually isn’t any direct evidence, but there are valid questions that may be posed:
- Has the alleged victim posed similar accusations against others in the past?
- Does the victim have a difficult home life?
- Does the victim have any history of psychological or emotional problems?
- Is there motive to lie?
Keep in mind, examining the victim’s sexual history or other aspects of character can be controversial, sometimes backfiring with a judge or jury.
Also, when charges involve a minor, or an incapacitated or mentally challenged individual, the victim is considered unable to consent to the defendant’s actions.
Consent laws outline specific requirements that must be met for legal consent to be given or for the defendant to believe he or she received consent.
These are only a few of the most common defenses against sex crime charges. Once you’ve shared your case specifics with your experienced legal team, they will be able to guide you through the process of developing the very best defense for you.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences