Jerry Sandusky has been all over the news recently. He is accused of multiple child sex charges in Pennsylvania, but his case is very typical of sex cases. The public is quick to judge the accused based only on accusations. All most people have to hear is that there has been an accusation of a sexual nature and they have already made a judgment. But in this country, an accusation is not enough. The state attorney has to prove sex charges and for that matter, any criminal charge, beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt.
As a Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, I have represented hundreds of people charged with multiple sex charges in Northeast Florida, including Capital Sexual Battery, Lewd and Lascivious Battery, Lewd and Lascivious Molestation and Unlawful Sexual Activity with a minor. When any person, especially a child makes an allegation of sexual contact or abuse, the case is taken first to the police. In almost every case, the police will attempt to make contact with the accused. As a Sex Crime Lawyer in Jacksonville, I would advise any person accused of a sex crime to contact a criminal lawyer before talking to the police. The police are not there to help you and they certainly are not there to confirm your innocence. Police are instructed in their training to use any tactic possible to make you “confess”. You could be defending yourself and say something they could take out of context. Most of the time, if you go and talk to the sex crime detective, the end of your interview will be you in handcuffs facing a sex charge. As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, I make contact with the police and explain your side of the story. My criminal defense law firm investigates all aspects of the case and will reveal any inconsistency or motivation to lie.
If the police make a sex crime arrest, you still have the right to remain silent. Exercise that right. Ask to speak to a sex crime attorney immediately. After you are arrested, the state attorney’s office has a period of time to make a decision about your case. (it usually takes two weeks) In that time, your Jacksonville attorney will meet with the prosecutor assigned to your case to try to get them to drop the charge or charges.
If the state attorney believes the alleged victim, they will file formal charges in a document called the “information”. The information will outline the actual crimes the state is accusing you of. At that point, you and your criminal lawyer are entitled to “discovery”. Discovery is all the information the state has in your case, including any information that could exonerate you. Your sex crime attorney can depose all witnesses listed by the state attorney. A deposition is a meeting where a witness is questioned by the defense lawyer about the case and the answers are sworn to be the truth. Sometimes, cases are broken down when the defense lawyer takes effective and aggressive depositions.
If, after depositions, the state attorney still believes the alleged victim, the accused can enter a plea or go to trial. When choosing a criminal defense attorney, ask that lawyer when they last conducted a trial. Not all cases go to trial, but if you want to exercise your rights and stand by your innocence, you need an attorney who is not only capable, but experienced in criminal trial law. Also, ask the prospective attorney if they got their trial experience defending people or prosecuting people. Many now private criminal attorneys were once prosecutors. Their job was putting people in jail and prison and for one reason or another, they have decided to start defending people.
If you have been accused of a sex crime in Jacksonville, Clay County or Nassau County, call Victoria “Tori” Mussallem for a free consultation at (904) 365-5200. Our Jacksonville Criminal Law Firm is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.