False accusations of sexual assault affect your personal and professional reputation. You deserve the chance to clear your name and avoid going to jail for a crime you didn’t commit.
There are several actions for someone falsely accused of a sex crime to take, steps to avoid, and why documenting your version of events is essential to your defense.
Keep reading to learn how to defend yourself if facing false accusations of a sex crime in Pennsylvania.
It’s tempting to try and resolve false accusations by contacting the alleged victim, especially when you know them. Restrain yourself from calling, texting, emailing, or attempting to visit them in person.
Trying to reach out to the alleged victim or their friends and family could be seen as threatening or intimidating behavior. You could lose your temper and give your accuser incriminating evidence to be used against you. The result won’t be a successful resolution but more legal trouble for yourself.
A much better option for those falsely accused of sexual assault is to let a criminal defense lawyer communicate on their behalf. An experienced attorney uses their knowledge and objectivity to assess the charges against you.
Tell your attorney if the alleged victim tries to contact you. Don’t respond to the other party in any way.
Police officers sometimes tell suspects that they don’t need a lawyer if they haven’t broken the law. In reality, everyone dealing with a legal issue (such as an arrest) should have a lawyer to help them understand their rights.
Pennsylvania has some of the harshest penalties in the country for sexual assault. Don’t talk to the police without an attorney to avoid potential complications for your future defense.
You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions without the benefit of legal counsel. You must clearly state that you assert this right – don’t just clam up and say nothing. Once you tell the officer that you invoke your right to remain silent and want an attorney, they cannot question you alone.
Individuals who sexually abuse or force unwanted sexual contact with others should be held accountable for their actions. False accusations, however, detract law enforcement attention from actual crimes.
Sadly, false allegations of sexual assault are common and happen for several reasons.
Sometimes a jilted former spouse, partner, or lover wants revenge for being dumped. Or, an ex might use consensual sex to win you back, then claim it was assault when you refuse to get back together.
One parent might accuse the other of sexual assault as a way to gain sole custody of their children. A judge would not permit a convicted sex criminal to have custody or visitation without supervision.
Some individuals feel ashamed of having sexual relations before marriage or an extramarital affair. They file charges as a way to compensate for their regret or guilt.
You could be the victim of false identification from an alleged victim who was drunk or high.
Individuals falsely accused of sexual crimes can defend themselves in several ways, including:
Write down everything you remember about the incident. Collect and keep text messages, emails, and voicemails from the alleged victim. Your detailed version of events can help refute their statement. An experienced sex crimes defense attorney looks for weaknesses and inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case.
You might be able to establish an alibi if you have documentation or testimony that conflicts with the date and time of the alleged assault.
Writing down your version of events could also identify the incident as consensual. The age of consent for sexual activity in Pennsylvania is 16.
An experienced sex crimes attorney examines the details surrounding your case. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to show that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Whether the best course is an affirmative defense or casting doubt on the prosecution’s case, a criminal defense lawyer helps you obtain the best possible outcome.
If you’re facing false accusations of sexual assault, get help from an experienced sex crimes attorney. Criminal defense attorney Michael J. Skinner is a former Chester County Assistant District Attorney who now vigorously defends the rights of the accused.