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Best Defenses for a Sex Crime

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Prosecutors tend to be under tremendous pressure from victim’s advocacy groups and the public at large to “make sex offenders pay.” That doesn’t mean sex crimes can’t be defended, as the burden of proof is always on the government to show that a defendant committed an act beyond a reasonable doubt. If you or a loved one has been accused of a sex crime, here’s what you should know.

Ulterior Motives

It’s not unusual for someone to be falsely accused of a sex crime, since arrests are sometimes made solely on the word of the victim. The problem with this is that “victims” sometimes make up allegations in an effort to get even with someone. As such, one of the first things a defense attorney will do is to try to uncover ulterior motives that could have resulted in false testimony against the accused.

Some instances in which others may accuse someone of sexual misconduct include:

  • Whenever an individual is caught having an affair, that person may allege sexual assault to cover up his or her own misconduct
  • Instances where there has been a domestic dispute or a child custody case is pending
  • Whenever a person is attempting to extort money from another person
  • Teenagers who are angry over what they feel is too much parental control

Of course, this is not a complete list of instances in which there could be an ulterior motive. A defense attorney will look at the nature of the relationship between the accuser and accused to determine if something else might be a motivating factor.

Consent

Many sexual acts are only crimes when one party fails to consent. For this reason, one of the most common defenses is that of consent. A defendant may argue that he or she did not commit a crime because the act was consensual. This can be difficult to do, since there are typically no witnesses to the sexual encounter. A few of the things that may be used to establish consent are:

  • Text messages or emails between the parties that are sexual in nature
  • Evidence that shows the two had been sexually intimate in the past
  • Witness testimony concerning behavior prior to the encounter that might show the couple kissing, cuddling, etc.

In some cases, the alleged victim may argue that he or she was unable to consent due to mental incapacity, duress or involuntary intoxication. In that instance, it might be necessary to show that the accuser actually was capable of consenting to sex and was not incapacitated.

Houston Statutory Rape Defense

Under normal circumstances, children under the age of 17 may not consent to sex. This means statutory rape is considered a crime of strict liability for which there is normally no defense. However, affirmative defenses are available for statutory rape:

  • The actor was not more than three years older than the victim and
  • A member of the opposite sex and
  • No duress, force or threat was used and
  • The actor was not required to register as a sex offender

Marriage is also an affirmative defense. If the parties in question were husband and wife at the time of the offense, no charges may be brought.

Tainted Questioning

When a defendant is accused of sexual misconduct with a child, a common defense that may be used is “taint.” Tainted questioning occurs whenever children are asked questions in such a way that they answer them in a manner that incriminates another person. When asked leading questions, very young children tend to “go with the flow” in order to please the adults who are asking them. They may even develop false memories of events that did not actually ever happen.

To determine whether a child has been exposed to suggestive questioning, courts sometimes allow a taint hearing to take place before trial. This hearing will determine whether the questioning methods used would have automatically elicited a certain response. A child’s testimony may be dismissed if a judge determines tainting has occurred.

Other Sex Crime Defenses

Aside from these sex-crime specific defenses, there may be other common defenses available such as:

  • Alibi-the accused could not have committed the crime because he or she was in another place at that time
  • Mental incapacitation on the part of the defendant that makes it impossible to form intent
  • Involuntary intoxication
  • Acting under duress or threat from another
  • Witness misidentification

Seek Legal Help Now

After an arrest, seek help from a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. That way, your defense strategy can be carefully crafted to give you the best possible chance of obtaining a “not guilty” verdict. If you have been accused of a sex crime, then reach out to an experienced attorney by calling 713-227-0087.

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