Accused of any sexual offense? Know how to best protect yourself.
Even the allegation of a sex offense can have devastating effects in your life. Your family, friends, reputation, job and freedom are all at stake. Child molestation [Penal Code section 288], rape [section 261], prostitution or solicitation [647(b)], lewd conduct [section 647(a)], indecent exposure [section 314] or pornography charges [section 311.11] can carry substantial jail or prison sentences and lifetime sex offender registration. How can you protect yourself if you are accused, arrested or charged with a sex offense?
First – Know your rights
Most importantly, the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution says you have the right to remain silent. Yes, the police must warn you of your rights if you’re arrested and being questioned, but they’re not required to if you are not in custody. That means that if the police show up at your door and want to chat with you, they may not give you the Miranda warnings. Knowing you don’t have to answer their questions is your first step in protecting yourself. They may say things like, “We just want to get your side of things” or “You don’t want the DA to not have your story when they decide to file charges, do you?” Don’t buy it for a second. Either they will develop enough evidence to arrest you and charge you or they won’t. You don’t have to help them build a case against you. There will be plenty of time for you to explain yourself and have your side of things heard, but giving a statement to the police during their investigation can only hurt you.
The same is true for a police request to search. Unless they have a search warrant or other legal justification for a search, you are within your rights to decline a request to search. Standard lines from the police include, “Well, if you have nothing to hide, you don’t mind if we look around, do you?” Stand firm. Politely, but firmly decline any request to search. Your simple response should be, “Unless you have a search warrant, I do not consent to any search.” Just like in declining a statement, why would you help them build a case against you? This is true for any searches – of your house, car, computer or for your DNA.
Next, get help…. Legal help.
The police and District Attorney are working with their team to build a case against you. You can sit back and wait, but that’s like sticking your head in the sand, hoping it will all just go away. After discussing the facts in a confidential setting, I can give you advice on how we can best protect you – either to avoid any charges being filed against you in the first place or to best protect you when we go to court to fight. I can help you arrange a bail bondsman so you may never have to go to jail at all while we fight your case.
You are also the best source of information to help yourself. There are often witnesses, evidence or information the police overlook or don’t know about. By working on your case from the earliest possible moment, you put yourself in the best position to defend yourself.
Most importantly – Keep quiet.
It’s not just a statement to the police that can be used against you – it’s anything you say to anyone. Don’t discuss the allegations with anyone except your attorney in confidence. Even if you are 100% innocent of these charges, keep quiet. You don’t want your words to get misinterpreted, misheard or plain manipulated in a way so they sound bad. The best approach is to say absolutely nothing.
This means no text messages, no facebook posts, e-mails, phone calls…. NOTHING. You never know who you’re really talking to, who will read your words and how they may be used against you. If the police and DA are involved, assume everything you say is going right to them. Follow my golden rule: Don’t help them get evidence to convict you.