What do you need to know now if you are being accused of Child Sexual Abuse or Lewd Molestation?
These allegations require immediate attention. If you had been stabbed and were bleeding out on your kitchen floor you wouldn’t hesitate to call 911, because your wound would require immediate life-saving medical attention. The situation you find yourself in when you are being accused of a crime against a child such as Child Sexual Abuse or Lewd Molestation is no different. Ideally you will have consulted and retained an attorney even before charges are filed. This gives you the advantage of being protected against the tricks and misconceptions law enforcement and DHS often use to obtain evidence they will later use against you. It gives you an opportunity to self-surrender on your own terms and connected with a good bondsman who has a relationship with your attorney. It gives you an opportunity to mentally, physically and financially prepare for the trauma of being booked into jail on a felony arrest warrant and hopefully bond right out without ever having to change out of your civilian clothes and into an orange or black and white striped jail-issued jumpsuit.
Most criminal defense attorneys are a “Jack of all trades, Master of none.” This figure of speech is used in reference to a person who has dabbled in many areas of practice rather than focusing and gaining experience and expertise in one area of practice. At the Berlin Law Firm, a core value that guides our firm’s actions, unites and defines us, is “We are MASTERS of our One.” We are the authority and subject matter expert in our chosen specialty. Unlike a lawyer who will spend a significant amount of his or her time on anything from DUI and drug cases to larceny or robbery cases, we prioritize being the authority in our respective specialty.
Do not talk to police and law enforcement. Do not talk to DHS. Do not talk to friends. Do not talk to your family. Do not talk to a religious advisor. Do not even talk to a therapist. It surprises many clients to discover that all of these people, including your religious advisor and your counselor or therapist, are mandatory reporters. Even if you believe you are speaking in confidence or you believe your conversation is privileged, the listener is a mandatory reporter and can be legally obligated to report you. Human instinct causes people to turn to close friends or family to debrief or commiserate after even the first hint of an allegation is made. But this can be your most fatal mistake. Law enforcement and DHS will also talk to your friends and family and what you have said can be repeated incorrectly, misunderstood or misconstrued. DHS often gives people the impression that they must speak to DHS or risk losing their children. Worse yet, you may feel compelled to speak to DHS to avoid your girlfriend, relative or loved one losing their children. But you do not have to talk to DHS. What you tell DHS will be turned over to law enforcement and the DA’s Office and then used against you in court. Law enforcement has a number of ways to make you feel that talking to the police will help you rather than hurt you. This is NOT the case. They are not just trying to get your side of the story. They are not just trying to wrap up their investigation so they can close out the case. They do not have to be honest with you. The police can and will lie to you.
STAY OFF YOUR PHONE
These days we are so accustomed to our electronics (particularly our phones) being an extension of ourselves. We don’t have to do math because we carry a calculator around on our phone. We don’t have to write a grocery list because we already put it on our phone. We can check and respond to email on our phone. We can access everything from an address, phone number, hours of operation and directions to anywhere in the world just by searching the Internet on our phone. We can text our every thought and whim instead of speaking it out load. We can view pornography with the click of the screen. But this convenience is not always a good thing, especially not if you find yourself facing criminal charges like Child Sexual Abuse or Lewd Molestation. Everything from your texts to your Instagram messages to your Facebook Messages and your Internet history can be seized and searched by law enforcement – even if you have deleted it. What was once a rambling apology is now a “confession” in the courtroom. What was once curiosity and late-night searches to pass the time is now incriminating evidence of your propensity to have sexual fantasies about kids. So if you find that you are being accused of these crimes, stay off of your phone, your computer, your tablet and any other electronic device in your possession. It is particularly important that you stay off your phone and electronic devices if the police are still in the process of investigating the accusations. This is not to say you should “lose” or destroy your phone and electronics. Don’t do that! Because it is also very common for us to need to access your phone to gather critical evidence to use in your defense. Often the victim or her mother will send you text messages that are helpful in our defense. Oftentimes we can establish solid timelines based on information on your phone. But don’t create a problem where none exists by messaging or searching on your phone.
IGNORING THIS ADVICE CAN DESTROY YOUR LIFE
Even if you did not do what you are accused of, follow this simple advice. You are innocent, and the truth will set you free? Proclaiming your innocence from every mountaintop to anyone who will listen is in your best interest? These are common mindsets we find our clients have – but ignoring our truths and tips can fast-track you to prison and life as a registered sex offender despite your innocence. All logic seems to go out the window when you are fighting for your freedom and defending your life and livelihood. Everything you knew or thought you knew becomes foreign and confusing. Your friends and family – once so supportive – have divided into camps of “we are with him” and “we are against him.” You feel the need to please those who are against you. You think you can “fix” this “misunderstanding.” But once you are facing an allegation of Child Sexual Abuse or Lewd Molestation, you cannot do it alone. You must act fast. Pick experience. And stop talking to anyone outside of the Berlin Law Firm.
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