Defense Strategies for Virginia Sex Crime Cases
The approach a Virginia sex crimes lawyer takes with a case can mean the difference between a dismissal, reduced sentence and conviction. It is important for a person to gain a clear understanding of the charges and potential defense strategies from a Virginia sex crimes lawyer.
First Things Lawyers Look at in Sex Offense Cases
Usually, a lawyer will want to know what the police know and the charges. They will also want to know about the relationship between the accused and the alleged victim, and whether it is a known party or unknown party. They will want to get as much information that they can during their first conversation with the client to figure out what is the evidence that law enforcement has against the person.
A lot of times in these types of cases, they will get calls from individuals concerned that law enforcement is investigating prior to them even being charged.
This is the best time to consult with a lawyer because the lawyer can do as much as possible for the client, including even possibly avoiding charges. Especially in cases in which the victim is known to the accused, the victim might have motivation to fabricate the charge to say that they were sexually assaulted against their will, when in fact they were not. The person might have other motivations to say otherwise and make a police report. If a lawyer suspects this to be the case, then they will consider hiring an investigator early on in the process.
This information is obviously very valuable to defending a rape charge when the parties are known to each other. A lawyer will prepare all types of questions for the client to get as much information as possible in the very first conversation.
Initial Constitutional Issues to Consider
A lawyer will want to figure out why the person was arrested and the probable cause for the arrest warrant. They will also want to know whether there was a search of the vehicle and whether there was a search of the home. They will look at whether the Fourth Amendment was violated. They also examine the statements the client made to law enforcement and whether Fifth Amendment rights were violated.
Building a Defense Strategy in Sex Crime Cases
It is crucial to know as much of the evidence as soon as you can to figure out what the government can prove in a particular case. You must also evaluate the weaknesses in the case. For instance, if it is a case involving unknown parties you have to ensure that they can prove that the person charged with the crime is the person that actually perpetuated the offense. Commonly what you will see in sex offense cases is the issue of consent.
A common scenario in these cases is when a person consents to the sexual conduct at the time that it happened and then later changes their story. Many times there are inconsistencies in the complaining witness’ story about the event, starting with the very first time they tell anyone, not just law enforcement, about what happened to the time they testify in court.
Typically, in consent cases, the most crucial area for a defense attorney to explore is inconsistencies of a complaining witnesses’ account of the event. And so if you know what the evidence is and you can figure out what the weaknesses are then you build a strategy around that.
You need to become very aggressive in getting information outside of what the government provides you by using subpoena power or private investigators. That complaining witness has probably talked to friends, or she’s contacted friends on Facebook, or texted people like family members and co-workers. So you want to have the case investigated and go and interview all those people and get as much information possible on what they are saying to determine if there are material inconsistencies in their stories.
Hire an Attorney Early in the Process
A person should hire an attorney early in the process because there could be specific advice as to events that are occurring now that you need to give a client because if they do not get any advice and they start talking to people about the offense or they try to maybe resolve the issue themselves by talking to the complaining witness for instance, they could get themselves into deeper trouble.
For example, the complaining witness could report to law enforcement and law enforcement could set up a sting operation in which the person is recorded, they might be recorded apologizing for conduct to the victim who calls them and that will be used against them in court.
It can be simple advice to the person before they are charged on what to look out for, how to respond to police inquiries, advising them on what charges they face, what the penalties are and also act as a liaison between that person and the law enforcement. In some cases, a lawyer can possibly head off charges to begin with if the complaining witness is found to be fabricating the allegations.
Click here to go to the Virginia Sex Crimes page