Being accused of sexual assault or rape is a very stressful event to say the least. Most people learn of the accusation either through the accuser, family or law enforcement and are uncertain how best to proceed. Following these recommendations can help avoid making the situation worse.
Upon Learning of the Accusation, Say Nothing
It is extremely important to take these allegations very seriously due to their severe possible consequences. Upon learning of the allegations, every impulse you have will be to deny, explain or rebut the accusation. However, now is not the time to do that. Rather, it is best to say nothing until you talk with a criminal defense attorney. Do not respond to text messages, do not get on the phone and have a conversation, do not call everyone you know in an attempt to gain support and tell your side of the story. If you have already talked and are now reading this, stop talking and follow the next recommendation.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney ASAP!
You should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to guide you through these very critical early stages. The attorney should explain to you how to handle family, friends and employers. Time is of the essence, but do not rush to get just any lawyer. With something this serious, it is important to make sure you find the right attorney. An experienced criminal defense attorney is usually not the attorney who wrote your parents’ wills, or the lawyer who handled your divorce. An experienced criminal defense attorney should exclusively handle criminal cases.
Preserve Evidence / Make a Witness List
Evidence may be the ticket from the show you saw or the receipt from the bar where you had drinks. Collect the clothing you were wearing and secure it in a safe place. Make a list of potential witnesses. Write down anyone you can think of who you were with that night. Also, generate a time line. Do not keep this list on you. Rather, provide the list to your criminal defense attorney at your first meeting. You should also protect your cell phone. The cell phone is the most sought after piece of physical evidence in criminal cases. Make sure that it is secure and in a safe place. You should not voluntarily provide law enforcement with your phone or your password.
Initiate an Investigation
Your attorney should have the assistance of a private investigator to begin an independent investigation. Do not do your own investigation; that’s for the investigator to do. The investigation will be aided by the evidence you have preserved and the witness list you made.
Expect a Visit from the Police
The police are most likely going to try to speak with you. You can expect a knock at the door or a phone call. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER speak with law enforcement without an attorney present. You should firmly tell them you will not speak with them without an attorney. If pressured to talk, or told you will be taken to jail right now if you don’t speak, simply say “I WANT MY LAWYER,” remain silent, then call an experienced criminal defense attorney.