The truth of the matter is that most of us never really even consider the possibility that someone could accuse us of committing a sexual misconduct deed, let alone a crime. The reality is, based upon our societal values and the way our judicial system is structured, that someone you know will be falsely accused of a sexual crime and possibly actually charged criminally.
A criminal sexual allegation can immediately turn your life upside down permanently. Most normal individuals, when they learn of these allegations from a detective investigating the case, freak out and usually cause matters to become worse by making rash decisions that can affect the outcome of the matter.
I have been practicing law for close to 30 years and have literally handled a plethora of sex offense cases throughout Maryland on every level. The majority of people that come to me for help usually do so after they have been contacted by the police or an administrative agency investigator. At that point in time, by believing that they are doing the right thing by talking to law enforcement, they have unwittingly delved deep into the abyss by giving the police plenty of ammunition to continue on with the allegations. Here is a list of the top 5 mistakes people make in this situation. Do not do these things!
1. Do not talk to the police or an investigator before you speak to an attorney
This advice may seem like a no-brainer, but this is the most common mistake people make in these situations. There are many reasons for that. One of them is that individuals immediately try to justify or “talk their way out” of the situation. They mistakenly believe that they can out-smart or justify the scenario by simply telling their side of the story. The reality is, detectives and investigators are extremely smart individuals. Their IQ levels are well above the average person. They are good at what they do because they practice and are taught by professionals.
The police and detectives know people want to usually talk because they are scared. They use a variety of different techniques to make that happen. One of the techniques is a “friendship” strategy to get the alleged defendant to confess or open up. Even if a confession is not extracted, the mere fact that the detective may be able to put the defendant in close proximity with the alleged victim on the day and time in question solves most of the state’s problems. Most accused don’t realize that any words that come out of their mouth could literally “sink the ship” .
2. Do not try to contact the alleged victim or anyone associated with the alleged victim
This is an almost automatic response from many individuals. The thought process is, how can this person be making this accusation? There must be some sort of communication mistake? If I could just talk to them I can fix it! They believe by contacting the individual they could somehow “make things right” or repair the miscommunication.
This is extremely naive and very dangerous. The biggest problem with this thought process is that once someone makes an accusation to law enforcement about a sexual impropriety or crime, it is very doubtful that the alleged victim will then recant. Contacting the alleged victim can cause immediate arrest, sanctions, and difficulties down the road regarding how the case is navigated. As difficult as it is, seek counsel before you take any steps in that direction.
3. Do not delete any communications of any kind related to the alleged victim
The minute someone hears that they are being accused of a crime with a particular person, most individuals immediately want to take steps to try and “clear up” the situation. Many will go into their phone and or the computer and delete all text messages and other app messages, including email. This could be a fatal mistake.
Although every case is different, and all facts must be evaluated based on the merits of the situation, it is better to leave all potential evidence alone. Many times accused individuals think that any communication along with the alleged victim is bad. Nothing could be further from the truth and less accurate. I can’t account how many times text messages, emails, apps, and social media contacts, have exonerated an individual who is being accused. It may not be obvious to the person being accused at the time who simply feels that they are under “siege”, but it’s better to have a professional evaluate the contents.
4. Do not talk on the phone with the alleged victim or anyone related to the victim
One of the most successful techniques police use to gather evidence on an individual who is being accused is to place an “investigative call” from the alleged victim to the accused shortly after the incident. Police obtain a warrant quickly to make this process occur. The event happens usually when the alleged victim calls the accused and says they want to simply talk about the situation. The idea is to get the accused to admit to something illegal or to simply say “I’m sorry”, which in some situations is tantamount to a confession.
The police will coach the alleged victim into trying different techniques such as crying, anger, forcefulness, and persistence in trying to elicit a response from the accused. In most situations, the accused has no idea that they are being recorded by the police. This is an insidious technique and is very effective for law enforcement. Beware also that other individuals than the victim may also attempt to place a call and have a discussion with the accused. This information is admissible in court and the State will use it for all its worth.
5. Do not wait to obtain the services of a qualified attorney
Bewilderment, confusion, anger, disbelief and just simply putting your head in the sand are all justifications for not taking action immediately. When I talk to clients about these situations many times I compare the trauma of the entire experience to a major medical diagnosis. Most people will not take steps to call a lawyer immediately because they simply don’t comprehend what is going on. However, when you are called by a detective or the police, and they want to speak to you about an event regarding sexual contact, the reality is, that you better wake up quickly or you could face serious peril.
Police know this can be an effective weapon and use this “fog” to extract information in a diabolical way. They “pounce” and take advantage of the dismay and frightfulness of the accused. Make no qualms about it, immediate action can save your life or the future of another who is being accused. If you give a statement or make mistakes such as the ones I have enumerated in this blog, then the percentage of success in your case can decrease drastically.
The verisimilitude of the situation is that an accused must take action immediately and not sit back and simply hope everything goes away. Many justify in their mind that simply because someone accuses them of a crime, that doesn’t mean it could actually be proved. They couldn’t be more incorrect. Most sex offense cases start and finish with the accusation by the alleged victim. Many times there is not much more than that. The percentages of success depend upon minute differences and facts which are presented to a judge or jury. Not making the mistakes listed here, drastically increases your chances of success in our judicial system.
If you have been accused of a sex offense in the state of Maryland, we’re here to help. Call The Law Offices of James E. Crawford, Jr. today at 443-709-9999.