I like to get input from those around me about what topic to cover next, so when I asked my paralegal what I should cover in this blog post the first thing she said was “Sexual assault. Talk about what to do and what not to do when accused.” So here I am.
Let’s start this one by an imaginary show of hands. Who here reading this blog has heard of someone being accused of a sexual assault?… whether it be in the news, involving politics, at work, or you know someone personally accused? That’s right, almost all of us have heard of someone committing some sort of sexual misconduct, but what if YOU are being accused of sexual assault? Your first thoughts are going to be emotional but you will usually end with these words: why me? If you find yourself if this situation, here are a few best practices:
As many lawyers will tell you, the first thing you do is go against your human nature to communicate with others and shut up! Schedule a meeting with your attorney and learn your rights and what to expect. Even if you have to pay for a consult, that is better than you doing something stupid that increases your chance of having a case against you. Everyone is entitled to an attorney, but not everyone is entitled to privilege. Attorney-client privilege is exact how it sounds.
Prepare yourself to have to hire an attorney and get bonded out of jail.
I have many potential clients consult with me about their situation and I always tell them to have money set aside for a retainer and bond money in case we cannot do an attorney bond. Half of the time nothing happens, but the other half of the time I get an interesting phone call a few months down the line with someone saying that I’m needing to be hired.
Do not talk to the police without an attorney.
Most attorneys will tell you not to talk to the police, period. You may have nothing to hide but it doesn’t mean that the detectives are going to be friendly with you. Most of the time, the police are trying to trip you up with verbal attacks that make it seems like you are lying to them. Why? They are trying to get enough evidence to arrest or get a warrant if they don’t have it already.
Prepare for additional expenses.
Depending upon the case, your attorney may want you to take a polygraph test or hire an investigator to follow up on the statements of key witnesses. This does not apply to every case but additional expenses can be very high in a sexual assault case.
It’s okay to worry about the threat of criminal charges, but it is not okay to contact the alleged victim. People tend to believe that by contacting the alleged victim, they will be able to expose the truth, that this case is a lie. Instead, they tend to make their case more difficult because this is a very emotional area. By the same token, do not let the alleged victim contact you. Sometimes people have trouble letting go of people who were once close to them but anyone who might put you in the situation where you have to defend yourself is not worth having contact with in the first place.