If you have been wrongfully accused of a sex crime, you might be wondering how you could be implicated in the first place. It is quite possible you have been arrested based on false accusations, mistaken identity, or even an innocent misunderstanding. Keep reading to learn about possible defense strategies that can be used if a false accusation was made against you.
Firstly, note that in California, a “sex crime” is defined as any misdemeanor or felony offense of a sexual nature. It includes everything from forcible rape to grabbing someone’s genitals in public. Common California sex crimes include:
- child sexual abuse,
- date rape,
- indecent exposure,
- lewd conduct,
- possession of child pornography,
- sexual battery/assault,
- soliciting a prostitute, and
- statutory rape.
To better understand how to defend against a wrongful accusation involving a sex crime, it will be useful to know what the prosecution needs to prove. To prove a case of sexual assault, the prosecution needs to establish that you:
- Touched the victim's intimate parts while the victim was restrained by you or another person. The touching may be through direct contact to the victim's skin or indirect contact through the victim's clothing.
- You intended to engage in the unwanted touching for the purpose of sexual gratification, sexual arousal, or sexual abuse.
- The touching was against the victim's will. The prosecutor must establish that the victim did not consent to the contact.
With all this in mind, let’s now go into common defense strategies to argue against the wrongful accusations brought against you.
If you have been wrongfully accused of a sex crime, you could establish a case of innocence. Some examples of defense strategies to argue your innocence include:
- you were the victim of a false accusation;
- no sexual contact occurred;
- mistaken eyewitness identification / mistaken identity.
You could present an “alibi” by arguing that you could not have committed the crime because you were in a different location at the time of the alleged crime. However, for your alibi to bring an effective defense, you must support it with credible evidence that establishes that you were not with the victim at the time the alleged crime took place. You can prove this in a number of ways; for example, you could provide your credit card receipts that show you were out grocery shopping on the other end of town at the time, plane tickets showing you were not even in town, or witness corroborations.
You could also claim that that the victim misidentified you as the perpetrator, perhaps in confusion. Just like with your presentation of an alibi, you must provide evidence to support this claim. One way could be comparing DNA data, which can accurately and reliably establish whether you were present at the crime scene.
However, if touching did occur, but such touching did not constitute inappropriate sexual contact, you also have a potential defense of innocence. For example, if you touched the victim for a non-sexual purpose, such as a medical professional conducting a physical examination, it might be difficult for the prosecutor to establish that the alleged act was sexual in nature and nonconsensual.
Regarding the question of consent, which is often difficult to prove, another defense against wrongful accusations of sex crimes is to admit to the behavior in question but argue that the act was consensual. One of the elements of sexual assault is that the sexual behavior must occur against the will of the victim. So, if you can show an honest and reasonable belief that the victim consented to the sexual contact, it will provide a solid defense to the allegations of sexual assault.
Be aware that consent is, in most cases, impossible to prove. When the alleged victim is a minor, is somehow incapacitated, or is mentally challenged and incapable of understanding the sexual nature of the behavior, it is impossible for the victim to consent to your actions. As a result, when the alleged victim is a child or an individual lacking mental capacity, consent is not an appropriate defense.
On the other hand, you could claim insanity or mental incapacity in relation to yourself. Defendants in a sexual assault case can claim that they had a mental disease or defect at the time of the crime that should remove criminal liability for their actions. Note that different states apply different forms of the insanity defense, but most states will treat you more leniently upon evidence that your mental disease or defect prevented you from understanding the criminal nature of your actions. If a mentally challenged individual has no understanding that unwanted sexual contact is illegal, they could establish an effective defense against the accusations.
If you have been falsely accused of a sex crime, you should seek legal counsel immediately to develop an effective defense strategy and accumulate the appropriate evidence to build your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your accusation and best determine what defense to bring to court.
Contact our team at The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch today to learn more.