Sexual Assault Investigations

When law enforcement investigate crimes, they don’t presume innocence. It’s not their job. When the police are asked to investigate a crime, they intend to solve it. When law enforcement receive information about a possible sexual or domestic assault, they will often speak with witnesses who are friendly to the alleged victim and eventually get around to questioning the accused once they feel they have enough information to conduct a successful interrogation of their target.

Many of us grew up being told that police officers protect our rights. This is true to a point. Police officers protect our communities. They protect our rights. However, once a person becomes the target of an investigation, all of that changes. Most of the people we represent accused of sexual assault are shocked by police conduct during their investigations.

Often, after the suspect has been arrested, he or she learns that police surreptitiously recorded conversations between him or her and the alleged victim; police lied during the interrogation; or police were sending text messages on the alleged victim’s phone to try and elicit an apology or an incriminating response.

People who walk into our office often ask, “Well, what about equal protection under the law?” or “What about my rights?” or “What about investigating my innocence?” or “What about the presumption of innocence?” We answer: This is why defense attorneys exist. Our job is to protect your constitutional rights, to ensure your case has been investigated, and to raise reasonable doubt about the allegations.

The accused, who in many instances have no prior criminal history or contact with law enforcement, are amazed at how one-sided the investigation process can be. For example, police are allowed to lie during an interview or interrogation. But if the accused citizen lies, several bad things might happen:

1. The accused will be charged with a separate crime: Providing false information to law enforcement.

2. The information will be used against the accused at trial to paint the accused as a liar and destroy his credibility.

The bottom line: Sexual assault investigators aggressively pursue their suspect.

Often when a suspect tries to tell the truth during an investigation, it is possible that his statements will be misconstrued, misinterpreted, and later used against him, especially if there are any inconsistencies in his statements. The accused might unknowingly corroborate a victim’s story by providing what at first glance appear to be mundane details. Relentless investigators tie the small details into a larger picture to create corroboration.

Sexual assault investigations are scary. The accused rarely knows he or she is being investigated until the investigation is near completion. By the time investigators talk to the accused they have usually decided whether they intend to make an arrest. However, there are times when the investigator, hoping to produce enough information to make an arrest, will contact and interrogate the accused. Worried about his reputation and his future, the accused may decide that if he just tells police what they want to hear this will all go away. The decisions the accused makes at this point are critical; a bad decision could result in a felony conviction or lifetime on the sex-offender registry.

Fortunately, the accused has a right to hire a criminal defense attorney at any point in the process. Some people hire criminal defense attorneys as soon as they learn of the allegation, some wait until they’ve been contacted by law enforcement, and others wait until they’ve been arrested. The earlier criminal defense attorneys get involved in a case, the more likely they can minimize damage and obtain a favorable outcome.

Criminal defense attorneys hired early in the investigation can advise clients about their rights and how to assert and protect those rights. Timely advice is critical in assisting the accused in determining what he or she should and should not do.

People who are the target of an investigation often feel helpless and overwhelmed. They want to know what will happen and when it will happen. Fortunately, criminal defense attorneys can advise the accused about the potential outcomes and which actions and non-actions will put the accused in the best position possible for the best result.

If you or a loved one has been accused of a sexual or domestic assault and need legal counsel, call{F:P:Site:Phone} to speak with a member of our team.

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