All too often I receive a call from someone who has been contacted by a detective about an accusation of sexual assault or rape. The detective claims he is just doing his job, that he just wants to speak to the client about these accusations made by (friend, colleague, student) and that perhaps he can clear this whole thing up in an interview. If the client resisted this attempt over the phone, a follow up visit usually occurs. It is human nature when confronted with such an accusation to try to talk one’s way out of the mess; unfortunately, giving in to these entreaties can result in unmitigated disaster. Any of the top criminal defense attorneys in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or anywhere in the country will agree that these contacts by law enforcement are simply an effort to take what is a very difficult case for the prosecutor to prove – a “he said/she said” scenario with no corroborating witnesses or physical evidence – and turn it into a layup conviction by getting the suspect to confess or make a statement which badly damages any chance for an acquittal down the road. Therefore, if you receive a call or visit by law enforcement about an accusation of sexual assault or rape, do one thing and one thing only: contact the best New York sex offense attorney you can find – and take his advice.
Sexual Assault Allegations Can Lead to Very Serious Criminal Charges
Sex offenses charged in New York can have very serious penalties: Rape in the First Degree (NYPL § 130.35), Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree (NYPL § 130.50), and Aggravated Sexual Abuse in the First Degree (NYPL § 130.70) are all B felonies in New York, punishable by up to 25 years in prison. When accused of such an offense – even before being criminally charged – one mistake can have disastrous consequences. Many “date rape” allegations can be charged as these B Felonies, including accusations stemming from college scenarios. In these situations, young people just starting out in life can suddenly find themselves charged not only with a school disciplinary complaint but a criminal charge with an up to 25 year sentence.
But these date rape allegations often do not have the corroborating evidence that traditional assault cases have: no eyewitnesses and no DNA/forensic evidence to lock the case up for the prosecutor because the defense may claim that the sex was consensual. Slight vaginal tears and abrasions as confirmed by medical personnel at a hospital following a report of date rape often can be explained away by a defense expert as not being inconsistent with consensual sex.
Detectives Can and Will Lie During Questioning
The difficulty in proving sexual assault cases explains why more than in any other category of crime, a detective will make the effort to either visit or call the target of his sex offense investigation with the hope of scoring an admission or confession from a scared suspect – because without it there may simply be no other usable evidence to support a criminal charge. And incredibly, law enforcement can lie to suspects during such questioning in order to lull them into a false sense of security. A suspect in a sexual assault investigation can be told by a detective that if they simply cooperate with the investigators the case will be dropped, or that the detective doesn’t believe the complainant – but that he just needs the suspect to tell him his side of the story. All sorts of lies by law enforcement during such questioning are permitted and are designed to achieve one result: to get you to provide evidence to make it easier for them to convict you. People v. Thomas, 985 N.Y.S.2d 193 (N.Y. 2014).
My experience in successfully representing dozens of clients accused of a sex offense prior to charges being formally brought has taught me that getting a top New York criminal lawyer involved at this early stage is a huge help in stopping the case cold — before bad evidence can be created. Because getting an investigation stopped early on is better than getting an acquittal years down the road, after your life has been turned upside-down. Call the attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman to discuss your sex offense charge or investigation today.