First and foremost, when you have had accusations of sexual abuse against a child leveled against you which are untrue, you must understand the legal ramifications and the negative changes to your future should you be convicted or make a wrong decision during the legal process. Many people go into denial mode, believing that because they are truly innocent, nothing bad will happen and the truth will come out. Because of this “head in the sand” inaction, many falsely accused people actually end up in deeper legal trouble than they began with.
Take Your Charges Seriously and Heed the Miranda Warning
Take your charges seriously and hire a criminal defense attorney who has extensive experience fighting false allegations of child sexual abuse—your future may depend on that one action. Even though you are innocent of the charges, the very nature of charges of sexual abuse against a child can leave you with a high probability of a conviction unless you take strong, definitive steps from the very beginning. This includes never speaking to police or prosecutors without your attorney present. When you are initially charged you may feel as though you can speak to the police and simply “clear the matter up.” Don’t fall into this trap. We’ve all heard it time after time on television—“anything you say can and will be used against you.” Take the Miranda warning very seriously and speak to no one at all until you’ve talked to a criminal defense attorney.
Tactics Your Criminal Defense Attorney May Utilize
You may need to seek specialized psychological testing or even undergo a polygraph test. Your attorney may line up experts who can help prove your innocence. Even though you’ve chosen a highly experienced attorney, you never want to remain ignorant of what is happening on your case. After all, this is your life and your future, therefore education and information can be your greatest assets during this difficult time. Sit down and map out a comprehensive timeline with every single detail you can remember to help your attorney properly defend you. No detail is too small and could mean the difference between a conviction and an acquittal. Search your mind for any potential witness who could testify on your behalf. Even those people you might consider unimportant in your case could turn out to be critical in your defense.
Watch What You Do and Say
During the time your attorney is putting your defense together, remember how important it is to watch everything you say and do. One ill-advised comment can end up completely tanking your case, so carefully consider everything you are about to say—before you say it. Don’t discuss your case with anybody other than your attorney as the most innocent comment can come back to bite you. And of course never, ever, discuss your case through social media such as Facebook or through e-mail or texts. Anything you do or say, no matter the context or intent, can cause you serious problems later on. A conviction of sexual abuse of a child can require you to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. This can have far-reaching ramifications on every aspect of your life and your future. Take your charges seriously and hire a criminal defense attorney who will do the same.
While the act of assault is serious enough, assaulting a person who is considered a public official can significantly enhance the penalties in the event of a conviction. Even when the assault victim is not a public official, if convicted the penalties can include fines and court costs, time spent in jail, the loss of the right to own a gun, mandatory anger management classes, probation including electronic monitoring and restitution to the victim. As you can see, the stakes in charges of assault are high. Simple assault may be charged in a variety of ways, depending upon the mitigating circumstances. Generally speaking, if a person attempts to cause bodily harm to another, if bodily injury is negligent and includes a deadly weapon, or if a threat is made against another which puts them in fear of bodily harm, then simple assault is charged.
Assault May Be Charged When Injury Does Not Occur
Remember, lasting injuries are not necessary for assault to be charged. If the incident causes even temporary pain or discomfort, includes any unwanted or offensive physical contact or a credible threat, then assault may be charged. This means that shoving another person out of your way—no matter the reason—or even threatening to harm another person can land you in serious hot water. Some of the factors which will influence the assault charges and subsequent penalties include the specific circumstances of your crime, where the assault took place, whether bodily injury occurred, whether the assaulted person was a minor or on school property, any prior history of convictions, whether the victim was a public official and, of course, on the skill and experience of your criminal defense attorney.
Charges of aggravated assault are much more serious than those of simple assault. If your assault was against a public official including: police officer, security guard, fireman, judge or teacher then aggravating circumstances apply. The result can be a penalty which is enhanced to include a minimum sentence of ninety days in jail. You may find that it takes much less to get yourself charged with assault and battery on a public official than on anyone else. Aggravated assault may also be charged when the assault was against a family member, serious bodily injury occurred, a deadly weapon was used, you threatened another person with a gun or the assault occurred as you attempted to elude arrest or while resisting arrest.
What is Serious Bodily Injury?
Serious bodily injury may be defined as any injury which creates the risk of death or causes permanent disfigurement. Short-term loss of the function of any body part, organ or any of the five senses is also considered serious bodily injury. The wording of your charges can be critical: Recklessly causing injury with a deadly weapon may be charged as a fourth degree felony bringing up to a year and a half in prison, while purposely causing injury with a deadly weapon can be charged as a third degree felony, bringing up to five years in prison. Should you have shown extreme indifference to human life, your assault may be charged as a second degree felony, bringing up to ten years in prison.
If you have been charged with assault, take these charges very seriously and hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible following your charges. Don’t speak to the police without your attorney present—your right to remain silent is an important one that you should respect. Your criminal defense attorney will assess all the facts of your case and determine the best option for your future.
Millions of women are physically and mentally abused by their spouses, boyfriends and partners each year. Domestic abuse and violence are very serious issues which must be stopped. On the flip side, there are many people, both men and women, who are falsely accused by another who is using the criminal justice system to seek revenge and even up old scores. Scorned lovers are among the largest group of those who level false allegations. In an attempt to “punish” their spouse or partner for cheating on them—or even when they have no proof but think their spouse cheated on them—these people will make false allegations simply to get the target of their anger into trouble. In some cases the accuser has even been known to agree to drop all charges of domestic violence if the accused will leave his or her present partner.
Other times, child custody battles are the catalyst for false allegations of domestic violence. A parent who wants full custody of the children and feels that may not happen during court proceedings may level false charges of domestic violence against the other parent knowing even the accusation could be enough to sway the custody decision in their favor. In fact, criminal charges against one parent can give them significant leverage during a custody battle when the other parent is painted as an abuser. Another potential reason for false accusations lies in the fact that “victims” of domestic violence often receive special benefits such as welfare payments, public housing assistance and other state and federal assistance. As an example, in New York City, the victim of domestic violence is pushed to the front of the line for public housing and can petition the state for emergency financial help. This can occur prior to a conviction for the accused.
Problems with the System
Unfortunately, prosecutors rarely file charges against a person who is found to have made up charges of domestic violence for their own gain. This means there is little or no deterrent to the person who lies about being a victim of domestic violence. While domestic abuse is certainly a significant issue, there are instances where equal danger occurs to the falsely accused. Those who have been falsely accused can lose custody of their children, can lose all the assets which were rightfully theirs during a divorce or can find themselves imprisoned and facing serious fines as well as other serious penalties. Should the person who has been falsely accused be convicted, that criminal conviction will follow them for the rest of their life. They may be unable to get a job, may lose the right to own a firearm, could be unable to obtain student loans or any other type of governmental assistance and could face the stigma resulting from the charges in their community and from family and friends.
If you find yourself the target of false allegations of domestic violence it is imperative you contact a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately. Don’t speak to the police or the prosecutor until you have secured legal representation. If there are any witnesses or details which may help you disprove the false allegations, ensure you secure statements or keep careful records of those details. Charges of domestic violence are extremely serious and can affect the rest of your life, therefore an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial.
Accusations of domestic violence are extremely serious and require the assistance of a highly experienced criminal defense attorney in order to minimize the consequences of these charges on your future. Many people feel that domestic violence charges—particularly if those charges are baseless—will not affect the outcome of their custody battle. Those who believe this are hiding their heads in the sand and will be dismayed to find just how serious these charges really are.
Family courts will almost always take such charges into consideration, even if there is no proof involved. It is important that you never enter into a plea bargain simply to “make the charges go away,” if you are innocent. Likewise, never plead no contest which is equivalent to saying you are guilty of the charges. Even assuming you agreed to a plea deal such as enrollment in a batterer’s program in return for no time spent in jail, this can be used against you when it is time to determine custody of your children.
False Allegations in Order to Gain Custody Not So Unusual
Unfortunately, leveling accusations of domestic violence against the other parent—particularly the father—appears to be the latest weapon in family courts. The mere accusation is almost equal to being found guilty. The accused must prove their innocence, and often the only way to do so is to impeach the reliability of the accuser. Once you retain a highly qualified criminal defense attorney to combat these false charges, he or she will likely seek to obtain a copy of the accuser’s complaint against you. In many jurisdictions, once you’ve had charges of spousal abuse or domestic violence leveled against you, you only have two weeks until you will be required to appear in court and counter the false allegations made against you.
You might want to discuss with your attorney the possibility of hiring a private investigator who can find any witnesses who could potentially impeach the honesty of the accuser. In some cases your attorney may advise you to take out a mutual complaint against the accuser which will ensure he or she will not be allowed near you therefore will be unable to trump up more false allegations. Your attorney may also advise you to undergo psychological testing to prove you are not the monster you have been made out to be. Remember that your future with your children is at stake and leave no stone unturned in order to prove the allegations against you are false. Also remember that in some states the definition of domestic violence can include causing fear, apprehension or emotional distress—all very subjective.
Why You Need Legal Help
Considering that in forty-eight states, judges who are awarding custody of children must consider allegations of domestic violence, over 700,000 persons are wrongfully arrested for domestic violence each year and that a full 70% of restraining orders are later found to be false or trivial, those who have been falsely accused need legal assistance from the moment the charges occur. Don’t leave your future involvement in your children’s lives to chance—contact a knowledgeable attorney today.