How to Prove Innocence When Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault
Being falsely accused of sexual assault is devastating. Accusations of sexual assault are serious criminal charges. The consequences of a conviction could negatively impact your life in numerous ways.
You need to begin protecting yourself right now if you have been accused of sexual assault. Contact a sexual assault defense lawyer immediately. You need to understand the criminal charges you face and what you can do to defend yourself against these false allegations.
Why Am I Being Accused of Sexual Assault?
There are many reasons why you could be facing charges of sexual assault. Some common scenarios and situations that could lead to a false allegation of sexual assault include:
- Consensual sexual contact that is later mischaracterized by the other party as sexual assault
- An ex-partner seeking revenge for a breakup or an advantage in a divorce proceeding
- Your child’s other parent seeking an advantage in a disputed custody case
- Mistaken identity
No one is prepared for being accused of sexual assault. However, with a criminal defense lawyer’s help, you can develop a strategy to defend yourself against false charges.
What is Sexual Assault in California?
Sexual assault charges in California can be a felony or a misdemeanor. The facts of the case determine whether the conduct is considered a misdemeanor or a felony.
Misdemeanor sexual assault is defined by statute as touching another person’s intimate part against that person’s will for the purpose of sexual gratification, sexual arousal, or sexual abuse.
The punishment for misdemeanor sexual assault is a jail term of six to 12 months, five years of informal probation, and up to $3,000 in fines. The judge may order one or more of these penalties. Additionally, you are required to register as a sex offender for a minimum of ten years.
A felony sexual assault is also defined by statute. The offense has the same definition as a misdemeanor sexual assault, except that the victim is unlawfully restrained during the act by the perpetrator or an accomplice.
The punishment for felony sexual assault is a prison sentence of up to four years, a fine of up to $10,000, and formal probation. Judges may order one or more of these punishments. You are also required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life for a felony sexual assault conviction.
Your Innocence is Not Sufficient to Protect You From Jail
Even though you did nothing wrong and the charges against you are false, you must take steps to defend yourself. You are in a lot of trouble. It is a mistake to underestimate the potential consequences of your situation.
Unfortunately, innocent people are convicted of crimes. The justice system is not perfect. The sooner you realize that you cannot merely rely on the fact that you are innocent, the better for your defense.
What to Do When You are Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault
Other things that you need to know if you are falsely accused of a crime are:
Do Not Talk About the Allegations with Anyone
Do not talk about the allegations with your family, friends, or anyone other than your criminal lawyer. Your friends and family members could be called as witnesses against you in court. Whatever you say to them could be twisted to make you look guilty by a talented prosecutor.
Do Not Talk to the Police
The urge to tell your side of the story is going to be strong. You might believe that you can make the situation go away if you can tell the police what really happened. Don’t talk to the police because they already believe you are guilty if they are arresting you.
If the police arrest you or they want to interview you, invoke your right to remain silent. Do not answer questions. Do not allow yourself to be tricked into talking by taunts that you would talk if you were innocent.
State that you want an attorney and then stop talking. The police might tell you that only guilty people ask for a lawyer. Do not fall for this tactic either. Never talk to the police or other law enforcement officials without your lawyer present.
Do Not Talk to the Victim
It may be tempting to reach out to the victim to try to clear things up. Don’t do it. Do not talk to the victim or anyone related to the victim. You should also resist the urge to ask someone to talk to the victim on your behalf.
Begin Gathering Evidence
Work with your defense attorney to prepare for court. Your lawyer might ask you to prepare a timeline of events and write a summary of your relationship with the victim. He may also ask you to write down everything you can remember about the situation that resulted in the sexual assault charges.
You should also begin gathering any evidence that could help with your defense. Print copies of letters, emails, texts, social media posts, and other messages between you and the victim for your lawyer.
Give your lawyer a list of the call records between you and the victim. Write down a list of eyewitnesses and character witnesses that your attorney may want to interview.
Try to Remain Calm
It is difficult to remain calm when you could be facing severe penalties for a sexual assault conviction. The best thing you can do for yourself is to follow your criminal defense lawyer’s instructions given to you. Your lawyer provides support and guidance throughout the process to help you remain calm and face the false charges head-on with the confidence of your innocence.