Assault and sexual assault convictions carry some of the strictest penalties in Texas. Sexual assault is usually a second-degree felony that carries a sentence of up to twenty years in state prison but can be upgraded to a first-degree felony with a sentence of up to 99 years in prison.
Here is your guide to know what to do if you are ever accused of sexual assault.
5 Steps You Should Take to Protect Yourself against False Sexual Assault Allegations
No matter the nature of the accusation, there are specific steps you need to follow when you are accused of sexual assault.
1. Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent
You’ve heard it dozens of times on any crime TV show—you have the right to remain silent. One of the most common mistakes you can make when accused of sexual assault is to talk and provide evidence that will further incriminate you.
- Do not contact or respond to the person making the accusation in any way. Even if your intent is pure and you’re just trying to clear up a misunderstanding or apologize, it is better to keep quiet.
- Do not talk to the police without an attorney present. If they are conducting an investigation, have brought you in for questioning, or are interrogating you, you do not have to answer any of their questions. Ask to have your lawyer present and say nothing else.
- Do not talk to your friends, family, or loved ones about the details or circumstances surrounding the accusation. Conversations with other people who are not your lawyer are not privileged and can be used against you. Remain silent and only speak to your lawyer about the details of the accusation.
- Do not communicate digitally. Texting, tweeting, emailing, or any other form of digital communication should instantly stop. Not only can anything you say or do be used against you in a court of law, anything you post online, even in a private conversation or a locked forum, can be used against you.
2. Contact Your Lawyer Immediately
No matter the size or complexity of the claim against you, immediately contact your lawyer. The sooner you contact your lawyer, the more they will be able to advise you and help your case be resolved or dismissed, or win an acquittal.
Make sure you are contacting the right lawyer. Lawyers have different specialties, and you need someone on your side that has experience defending against sexual assault accusations. The services of a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney like the Law Offices of Eric Harron can help you get your sexual assault charges dropped.
Will Calling My Lawyer Make Me Look Guilty?
Having your lawyer present is a guaranteed legal right for all people, no matter if they are guilty or innocent. The prosecution can not argue that you are guilty because you were quick to exercise that right.
3. Remain Silent
This is so important that it’s worth repeating a second time. If you ever want to know what to do if accused of sexual assault, do not speak to anyone other than your lawyer about the accusation. Do not make a claim, statement, or comment about the accusation for any reason unless your lawyer is present and directs you to speak. Even if you are completely innocent, minor inconsistencies in statements can later potentially be used against you. If you are under investigation, you must plan your actions and statements thoughtfully and carefully. They will be recorded and heavily analyzed by the police and prosecution to see how they can be best used against you.
4. Do Not React
It is not illegal for the police to lie to you. Some officers and detectives may choose to say inflammatory or incorrect information about you, your life, or the case. This is a tactic they use to trick you into speaking up and incriminating yourself. Stare at a wall, sing a song in your head, or do anything else to distract yourself, but do not fall for this trap and react to what they say or do.
5. Be Patient
Sexual assault accusations can take a long time to resolve, and it can feel draining to go through the process, but the process works if you let it. Continue to be patient and follow the instructions of your lawyer. It can feel frustrating to have to sit around and wait, but it is better to wait patiently in your home now than to be forced to wait patiently in prison for years.
How Can I Help Prove My Innocence against False Sexual Assault Allegations?
Even if you have been charged with false sexual assault allegations, you’re still facing a high probability of criminal conviction. Here are two proactive steps you can take to help protect yourself and keep the case from getting out of control.
Create a List of Witnesses
The first step of what to do when falsely accused of sexual assault is to compile and share a list of all possible witnesses with your lawyer. Include their name, basic contact information, and what they can testify to.
Do not limit who is on your list. Your list should extend past the time and location of the alleged assault. It can also include witnesses to previous interactions and communications with the accuser.
Gather Evidence and History of Your Interactions with the Accuser
Find all documentation and evidence available that track interactions with the accuser. This can include texts, emails, direct messages, tweets, phone calls, and conversations over social media. Any interaction you had before or after the alleged assault needs to be recorded. Gather and write down as many details as possible, even if the details seem irrelevant. Your job is to give your lawyer as much information as you can, and their job is to find which information is most important to your case.
If you are headed into a case, it can help to know more about the legal process and charges made against you. If your accusation comes from a family member, take time to learn if an assault on a family member is a felony and the intricacies of assault family violence cases.
When Should You Hire a Lawyer?
You should hire a lawyer as soon as you are aware of the accusation. It does not matter if you are innocent or guilty; contact the Law Office of Eric Harron, and rest assured that you have an experienced defense attorney on your side.