Accusations of a sex crime are difficult to deal with and can happen because of mistaken identity, embarrassment, or misunderstandings. Regardless of how the charge came about, here is everything you need to know to protect yourself:
Sex crime allegations, not to be taken lightly;
What do you do if accused, follow these steps to protect your rights; And
Know someone accused of a sex crime; then these are the ways to respond.
Understand the Severity of the Situation
A sex crime accusation is not something to wait around and hope it goes away. These allegations are severe in Maryland, and an investigation will take place into any charge made to police.
Regardless of whether the allegation is false, anyone facing an accusation of a sex crime must vigorously defend against them. These crimes are intensely looked into by law enforcement and can have life-altering effects on reputations and livelihoods.
This is not like getting a speeding ticket where you face a fine and points on your license. These allegations come with punishments of years in prison and sex offender registration. Being on the sex offender registry alone makes life difficult in finding employment and living arrangements.
Allegations cost many their jobs and positions in the community even before all the facts come out. Sex crimes are seen as disgusting in our society, and people distance themselves very quickly from those who are only just alleged to have committed one.
Protecting yourself against these serious repercussions is priority number one. Understanding the urgent nature of the charge hurled against you helps in taking the necessary steps needed to deal with sex crime accusations.
Necessary Steps to Take When Accused of a Sex Crime
There are things you need to do when facing an allegation of a sex crime. Follow these crucial steps to fend off allegations:
Hire a defense attorney – Find a criminal defense attorney who specializes in sex crime cases. JC Law's team of defense attorneys learn from and work for one of Maryland's premiere sex crime defense attorneys, James E. Crawford, Jr., Esq. Our experience and track record are second to none in these cases, and we feverishly defend your rights. We will work diligently to protect you from the allegations laid before you.
Gather witnesses and evidence – Providing witnesses who can testify on your behalf about your whereabouts during the alleged incident makes a massive difference in your case. They can be the difference between being a person of interest or prime suspect. Make sure any supporting evidence like receipts, time cards, or social media posts are collected, too. Witnesses and evidence to the contrary supply factual information to investigators and the court.
Make a timeline of events – As time moves forward, we tend to forget intricate details of events, so it is essential to write down your timeline of events that lead to and include the alleged event. This step helps to solidify your story of what took place.
Do not talk to investigators without your attorney – At some point, police will want to speak to the accused to get their side of the story. Remember, law enforcement conducts their investigation before an arrest to validate the accusation. Police will probably come to the accused's house and try to downplay the allegations to get you to talk to them and tell your story. These are serious accusations, don't let law enforcement downplay that fact. Police are interrogating you if they come to "question" you about the allegations. You have a right to protect yourself from self-incrimination and to have an attorney present during questioning.
Avoid any contact with the accuser – It might be tempting to talk to the person accusing you of a sex crime to set the record straight and ask them to take back their allegation. But doing so puts you at risk for harassment accusations or them using what you said against you. Leaving the accuser alone prevents further damage.
Keep the details of your case private – Friends and family members will express a desire to find out what's going on and how they can help, but you never know whom they may tell or who might end up hearing about what you said. Statements can be misinterpreted, misunderstood, or improperly relayed. Best to only talk to your attorney about the nitty-gritty details of the accusations.
Stay cool and calm – It won't be easy but maintaining a level head will go a long way in dealing with sex crime allegations. How you appear and behave in court and in front of other people plays a vital role in the case. Rationally face the challenge ahead and think before speaking or acting.
By following the seven steps mentioned above, accusations become less damaging and controllable. But what if you're not facing allegations but know someone who is? How do you act?
How to Respond If You Know Someone Accused of a Sex Crime
When someone you know is accused of sex crimes, it can be overwhelming and challenging to process. Emotions can range from shock to disappointment and even disbelief. All these feelings are valid and should be acknowledged.
It is ok to set boundaries if someone accused turns to you for support. If you can, offer to listen and be non-judgmental, but avoid talking about the case's specifics. People can support a person's well-being and treat them with dignity while still holding them accountable for their behavior.
Suggest counseling to them if you are unable to listen and be supportive. Everyone in these situations needs to have time to be heard.
You are not expected to approve of the accused's actions, opinions, or decisions.
Don't pick sides; try to remain neutral.
Avoid jumping to conclusions about the allegations; you may not have all the facts about what happened to make an informed opinion. You're not the person responsible for deciding if a crime was committed.
Allow the accused space to process what is happening and take the steps they need to handle the charges.
These approaches act as a way to be a friend and treat others with respect in a time of uncertainty. We are Americans and afforded innocence before guilt. Remember, accusations are not convictions.