Posted on June 29, 2022
There are numerous things that a defendant can do to beat a sexual assault charge. It is important not to speak with the police or to other people involved in the case without having a lawyer present.
Once charges have been filed, there are several legal defenses that may be available.
How can I beat sexual assault charges?
There are numerous things that defendants or suspects can do to help beat a sexual assault charge.
Some can be done before the charges are even filed, such as:
- hire a criminal defense lawyer,
- not talk to police without a lawyer present, and
- not talk to other people involved in the case, at all.
Doing these 3 things from the very beginning is important. Even suspects who have not been formally charged with sexual assault stand to benefit from doing them.
Each tactic forces law enforcement to gather its own evidence. By protecting his or her rights and not helping in the investigation, suspects can lay the groundwork for beating a sexual assault charge, should one get filed.
Hire a lawyer
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is likely the best way to beat a sexual assault charge. This applies both to defendants who have been charged, already, and to suspects who think they are about to be charged.
By establishing an attorney-client relationship with a defense attorney from a reputable law firm, defendants can tap into the experience of someone who has been through the process, before. Defense lawyers have provided legal advice to people in similar predicaments. They understand how police will likely move forward to build their case. Their legal counsel can help defendants and suspects avoid pitfalls that will hurt them, in the long run, and ensure the best possible outcome for the criminal case.
It is a dangerous myth that getting legal representation is a sign of guilt. This is not the case, at all. Instead, hiring a lawyer shows that someone is both realistic and serious about their future. Truly innocent people get convicted for crimes, all the time. Even being charged with a crime has lasting consequences. By hiring a lawyer, suspects protect against those unfortunate outcomes.
Do not talk to police
Sexual assault suspects should not talk to police, unless they have their lawyer present.
Some suspects think that they can clear their name by cooperating completely with a police investigation. In many cases, they end up giving law enforcement valuable evidence that incriminates them. This makes it less likely that they will be able to beat a sexual assault charge, once it is filed.
By not talking to police, suspects force police to build their own case. It also eliminates the possibility that the suspect will say something that inadvertently or coincidentally incriminates them.
Do not talk to other people involved in the case
Sexual assault suspects should not talk with others who were involved in the incident. This includes the alleged victim and any witnesses.
There is very little to be gained by discussing the incident with anyone. Worse, there is a significant risk of saying something that is incriminating. Chances are high that police will interview everyone involved. A poorly-phrased comment can quickly become evidence against the defendant.
Additionally, intimidating or tampering with a victim or witness is a crime. In California, Penal Code 136.1 PC forbids dissuading a witness. Even attempting to dissuade a witness or victim from testifying or providing evidence is a crime.
What are some legal defenses?
If sexual assault charges have already been filed, there are still several legal defenses that can be raised. These can undermine the prosecutor’s case, or present evidence of actual innocence. The most common defenses are:
- lack of evidence of guilt,
- proof of innocence, and
- false accusations.
A criminal defense attorney with experience in defending against sex crime charges will know which defense strategy is right for your case.
Most sex crimes, including sexual assault or sexual battery, criminalize nonconsensual sex. Therefore, if the intercourse was consensual, the defendant would not be liable for a crime.
Proving that the sex was consensual, though, can be risky. If charges were filed, then the alleged victim is very likely to testify that it was nonconsensual.
This creates a “he said, she said” situation. Defendants rarely have direct proof of consent, like a text message or voice recording. Using the alleged victim’s past sexual activity as indirect evidence, however, can make the defendant look bad to the jury.
Additionally, in some sex offenses, consent is not a defense. Statutory rape is one example. In these cases, the alleged victim was legally incapable of providing consent. Anything that they said or did to consent to the act, or even to initiate it, is not a defense.
Lack of evidence
It is up to the prosecutor to prove a case of sexual assault beyond a reasonable doubt. If they lack evidence to reach this high standard of proof, there should not be a guilty verdict.
For example, in California, prosecutors have to show the following elements to secure a misdemeanor conviction for sexual battery:
- the defendant touched the alleged victim in an intimate part,
- the sexual contact was done against the alleged victim’s will, and
- the touching was done specifically for the defendant’s sexual arousal or gratification, or for sexual abuse.
Each element of the criminal offense has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal court.
In some cases, defendants accused of sexual assault can beat the charge with evidence of their actual innocence. This can take the form of:
- an alibi that proves the defendant was somewhere else at the time of the alleged assault,
- DNA evidence, or
- a misidentification of the defendant by a witness.
Many sex crime charges, including sexual assault or battery, are based on false accusations. The alleged victim can make false allegations for a variety of reasons, including:
- to get leverage over the defendant, or
- to gain advantage in a child custody dispute.
Showing that the allegations are false or that the alleged victim has an ulterior motive can help win a sexual assault case.
What are the penalties for a sex crime conviction?
State law will set out the penalties for a conviction for sexual assault. Each state’s criminal law is different.
In California, for example, criminal charges of sexual assault can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Generally, it is a misdemeanor that carries up to:
- 6 months of jail time in county jail, and
- $2,000 in fines.
However, if there are any aggravating factors, it becomes a wobbler. Prosecutors have the discretion to pursue wobblers as either misdemeanor or felony charges.
If pursued as a felony, charges of aggravated sexual assault carry:
- a prison sentencing range of 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison,
- a fine of up to $10,000, and/or
- required registration in the sex offender registry.
The prison sentence can increase by 3 to 5 years if the alleged victim suffers a great bodily injury.
The blemish on the defendant’s criminal record and lifetime sex offender registration can also lead to lasting repercussions.
About the Author
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
How to Beat A Sexual Assault Charge | Fort Worth Criminal Defense
Fort Worth Sexual Assault Defense
If you have been accused of sexual assault in Fort Worth or the surrounding areas, what you do (or don’t do) next can impact the trajectory of your case and, ultimately, your life.
Sexual assault cases are usually built on the word of the alleged victim, often without corroborating evidence, so you will not help yourself by cooperating with police or giving your side of the story. They aren’t interested in fairness or getting to the truth. In fact, giving a statement to the police is the worst thing you can do right now.
Your next contact needs to be with an experienced sexual assault defense attorney who has a proven record of success and the reputation to back it up. Our team has helped numerous people beat a sexual assault charge and we are prepared to help you, too. Do not underestimate the gravity of your situation. A conviction for sexual assault carries life-altering consequences, including possible prison time, steep fines and sex offender registration. You will need the very best defense team in your corner to beat a sexual assault charge.
How to Beat a Sexual Assault Charge
At Varghese Summersett, we have a reputation as one of the best sexual assault defense firms in North Texas – and for good reason. We have exceptional results defending rape cases, including sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault and sex allegations involving children.
So what’s our strategy? We get out in front of the case fast – and leave no stone unturned when looking for weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. In this blog post, we share ways to beat a sexual assault charge. But first, please watch this video by Letty Martinez, a board-certified criminal attorney and former prosecutor who has handled dozens of sexual assault cases during her legal career.
Advantages of Getting Out in Front of the Case
If you have been accused of sexual assault, formally or informally, the first thing you need to do is contact an experienced Fort Worth sexual assault attorney. Do not talk to the police – or anyone else.
- If you heard through the grapevine that your ex-girlfriend is telling people you sexually assaulted her, you need to contact a defense attorney.
- If a detective contacts you and asks you to come down to the station to give “your side of the story,” you need to contact a defense attorney.
- If you are arrested on a sexual assault charge, you need to exercise your right to remain silent and contact a defense attorney.
By contacting an experienced defense attorney before you do anything else, you can level the playing field and put yourself in a much better position to defend against sexual assault allegations. The attorney will act as the buffer between you and the police, so you are not inadvertently incriminating yourself.
The attorney can also start investigating the sexual assault allegations right away and, if necessary, take steps to preserve evidence that may be helpful to your defense. For example, if there are text messages or social media posts that contradict the alleged victim’s story, an attorney can work to obtain them before they are deleted.
An experienced sexual assault defense attorney will also be able to assess the credibility of the alleged victim and begin looking for any possible motives that she or he may have to make false accusations. For example, if the alleged victim is trying to gain an advantage in a child custody case, that is extremely valuable information.
In some instances, the attorney can provide police and prosecutors with information that may prompt them to reconsider filing sexual assault charges. For example, if the alleged victim has a history of making false accusations or there is evidence that she was not actually assaulted (i.e., she had consensual sexual contact with someone else around the same time), that may be enough to get the charges dropped.
If it looks like they are going to proceed with the investigation, the attorney can work on a presentation for the grand jury in an attempt to get the case no-billed, or dismissed, at that stage in the process.
The bottom line is this: if you have been accused of sexual assault, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you get an attorney on your side, the better your chances of avoiding charges or getting the charges dismissed.
How to Find Weaknesses in the Prosecution’s Case
In sexual assault cases, detectives and prosecutors tend to believe their alleged victims – even in the face of evidence to the contrary. It’s not uncommon for prosecutors to move forward with a case even when an alleged victim recants. Instead of dismissing the case, they may even double down and bring in an expert to explain to the jury why recantations should not be believed.
As defense attorneys, our job is to look for every weakness in the prosecution’s case – large or small – and use them to our client’s advantage. Some areas that we focus on include the timing of the allegation, insufficient evidence, inconsistent statements and motives for lying.
The timing of a sexual assault allegation can be very important when defending a sexual assault case.
1. When was the outcry made?
Did the alleged victim make the accusation immediately after the sexual assault occurred or weeks, months or even years later? The longer the delay, the more likely it is that there are other motives for making the accusation.
For example, if an individual alleges that she was sexually assaulted by her boss and she waits until she is about to be fired for embezzling company funds to make the accusation, that raises serious questions about her motives.
On the other hand, if an individual reports a sexual assault to the police immediately after it happens, that is much more difficult for the defense to overcome.
2. Is the outcry consistent with the alleged victim’s conduct over time?
If an alleged victim reports a sexual assault and then posts photos and videos on social media that are sexually promiscuous or inappropriate, it could be used to show that he or she is unfazed by the alleged sexual assault.
It’s important to look at the individual’s social media posts and conduct over time to see if there is a pattern of sexual promiscuity or making false accusations. If there is, that can be used to impeach the alleged victim’s credibility.
3. Does the timing of the allegation make it more or less plausible – in other words, what else was going on at the time of the allegation?
For example, if an individual accuses her ex-boyfriend of sexual assault and she makes the accusation immediately after he breaks up with her, that raises questions about her motives.
→ Insufficient Evidence
In sexual assault cases, there is often very little evidence beyond the alleged victim’s word. There may not be any eyewitnesses, video footage or physical evidence. This can make sexual assault cases difficult to prove – and easier to defend.
If there is no concrete evidence linking the defendant to the sexual assault, that creates a major weakness in the prosecution’s case. Our team will capitalize on that weakness to create reasonable doubt.
→ Inconsistent Statements
It is not uncommon for sexual assault victims to give inconsistent statements to the police, or even change their story completely. When investigating sexual assault cases, our defense team will spend significant time finding, gathering and analyzing any statement the alleged victim made to determine if there are any inconsistencies, including:
- The first statement – or outcry – the alleged victim made (and to whom)
- Statement to the patrol officer
- Statement to the police detective
- Statement to 911 call taker
- Statement to sexual assault nurse examiner
- Statement to a forensic examiner
- Statement to therapist
- Statements to friends, family, co-workers, teachers
- Family court statements, including in a divorce or child custody case
- School records, work records, doorbell recordings, etc.
If we find any inconsistencies in the alleged victim’s statements, we will use those as leverage in an attempt to get the case dismissed or, if we go to trial, create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury.
→ Motives for Lying
In sexual assault cases, the alleged victim often has ulterior motives for making a false accusation. If we find a motive or bias for lying, we will use them attack the credibility of the accuser. Some common motives for sexual assault allegations include:
- to get revenge – sexual assault allegations are often made in an attempt to get revenge on the accused for some real or perceived wrong.
- to obtain child custody – sexual assault allegations are often made in child custody cases as a way to try to get an advantage.
- to get attention – some people, particularly young girls and boys, crave attention and will make sexual assault allegations as a way to get attention from their parents or others.
- to cover up infidelity – sexual assault allegations are sometimes made to cover up an affair or other sexual misconduct.
- for financial gain – sexual assault allegations are sometimes made in an attempt to get a large financial settlement from the accused or their insurance company.
- mental health issues – some people who make sexual assault allegations are suffering from mental health issues, such as Borderline Personality Disorder.
- fabricated – some sexual assault allegations are completely fabricated and the alleged victim has no memory of any sexual assault because it never happened.
- To obtain immigration status – sexual assault allegations are sometimes made by people who are not citizens in order to try to obtain legal status in the United States.
As you can see, there are many possible motives for bringing false sexual assault allegations. Our experienced criminal defense team will carefully investigate to try to find any ulterior motives in an effort to beat a sexual assault charge.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help Beat a Sexual Assault Charge
We understand that sexual assault cases are often based on “he said, she said” testimony with little to no physical evidence, so we work tirelessly to poke holes in the victim’s story and cast doubt on the credibility of the prosecution’s case.
If you or a loved one has been accused of sexual assault, please contact our office for a free consultation with an experienced defense attorney. We have handled thousands of sex cases – first as prosecutors and now as highly skilled defense attorneys. We know how the other side thinks, which is why are in the best possible position to beat a sexual assault charge. Call 817-203-2220 now; time is of the essence.