Child Molestation Crimes

Fight Your Charges with Help from a Trsuted San Diego County Sex Crime Lawyer

Child molest cases are extremely difficult cases to defend because it usually comes down to one person's word against another's word, usually that of a minor. Most attorneys shy away from handling these cases as they are labor intensive and subject to more specialized aggressive prosecution than any other type of case. The severity of the consequences in these cases requires a heightened level of diligence and competence in defending them.

A number of clients have been falsely accused of this crime. False accusations frequently arise from divorce and child custody litigation where one spouse is trying to gain leverage on the case.

Penalties for Child Molestation in California

Convictions on felony child molest cases typically result in lengthy prison sentences and mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender. Sexual registration is also required on some misdemeanor sex offenses. For these reasons, it is essential that everyone facing these type of charges seek competent counsel to represent them.

Set-Up Calls in Sex Crime Investigations

One bit of advice – while the case is pending watch out for the "set-up" phone call from the alleged victim, also known as a "pre-text call." This phone call is being monitored by the police and tape recorded. Assuming the alleged victim has consented to this procedure, the police do not need a wiretap authorization to do this. Don't talk to anyone but your attorney.

The Deck Is Stacked Against You

If you are charged with child molestation, you are facing the toughest gauntlet of your life regardless of whether you are innocent or guilty. Understand that our laws are made by legislators who cater to the public to get elected by popular vote. Since legislators make the laws, never expect them to make laws that favor someone accused of such crimes. In fact, expect the opposite. As cynical as it may seem, you can count on the fact that legislators wait in line for the opportunity to sponsor a bill that makes it tougher on child molestation and sexual assaults or makes it more difficult for an accused to question their accusers. This is a fact, not a political opinion.

Child Witness Testimony

One of the main problems is that a child witness is generally less reliable than an adult witness. They don’t understand, as do adults, the importance of taking an “oath” to tell the truth. They also don’t understand, as do adults, the immense penal and social consequences of being accused and convicted of child molestation or sexual assault. Once an accusation is made, your defense lawyer stands a minimal, if any, chance of talking to the alleged victim. In fact, you probably won’t get the relatives, the social workers who interviewed the victim, or law enforcement to talk with your defense attorney, either. If you dare to wait until the preliminary hearing to question the credibility of the alleged victim you will be penalized by the system for making the child take the witness stand.

Medical Evidence in Sexual Abuse Cases

With cases involving allegations of child sexual abuse, another problem a defense lawyer must address is the lack of objectivity in the medical community. Most doctors who are experienced in the examinations of child molest victims work for the Children’s Hospital or a similar institution in the local area. There are very few medical doctors in private practice that have enough experience to be credible in contesting what the core doctors opine. It is my opinion that the body of medical findings that physical molest has occurred is biased and without proper scientific objectivity. If you hire a very good doctor to contest the findings, they will be cross-examined by showing they have done very few of genital examinations with the resources of Children’s Hospital. This is truly a dangerous situation for real justice and for those accused of molestation.

Factors in Sentencing

Another problem facing the accused in a child molestation or sexual assault case is the extreme severity of the punishments. If you are convicted of molesting more than one victim, you are facing life in prison. This is called the “one strike” law and judges have no discretion to strike the allegation even in the interest of justice. This means, for example, if you actually molested one child but the brother or neighbor also says you did it to them as well, you are facing life. You have no way to admit what you did and contest the act you didn’t do without facing a life sentence.

Be Honest with Your Attorney

If you are guilty of child molestation or sexual assault, you need to consider admitting it quickly to your lawyer so he or she can show you the right steps to take responsibility for your acts and obtain a mitigated sentence. The system may show some mercy if you admit early, save the victims the embarrassment of a court hearing, and seek treatment. A good defense attorney experienced in cases involving allegations of child sexual abuse will commission a sexual psychological examination to show the D.A. and the court that you are not a fixated pedophile and that you are at low risk to re-offend. It is good for you if you are what they call a situational violator and not a true ingrained pedophile. Maybe you lost your job, began drinking heavily, and lost your inhibitions when the opportunity arose. Beware, however, that an early admission of guilt in the wrong hands can also make your case much worse.

Particularly with recent laws, be prepared to spend many years in prison if there is more than one victim. If the DA’s office can credibly allege multiple victims and acts of substantial sexual conduct you will be sentenced heavily. Each situation is unique, but you will be sentenced to many more years than had you committed these acts just a few years ago. If there is a single victim the DA does not have the leverage of a life sentence and chances are a good defense attorney can plea bargain more effectively.

Winning a Molestation Case at Trial

If you are forced to go to trial, your defense lawyer and his investigator must put forth a tremendous pre-trial and trial effort to win. The investigator must attempt to interview all potential helpful people including school teachers, counselors, fellow students, babysitters, relatives, family, and any other relevant persons. You should motion for and/or subpoena all possible documents that could shed light on the situation including school records, medical records, and therapy records. A good defense lawyer experienced in such cases is well versed in the special hurdles that can otherwise frustrate access to the evidence you need.

Expert Testimony in Child Molestation Cases

In addition, you will need experts to cover many areas. Like in the adult sexual assault cases you need to find the motive why the child is fabricating. The options will depend on the particular facts of your case, including the age of the child. There are many books written in this area and your lawyer should know the major treatises on the subject. You will probably need an expert in the area of suggestibility to demonstrate that when a child has been interviewed so many times by the parents, the relatives, the police, and the social workers that it is hard to tell what they really know compared to what has been augmented by the interview process. Again, your lawyer should know the well-qualified experts in the area. Social science research shows that false accusations exist in cases involving allegations of child sexual abuse. The rates of false accusations can be high, as in the case of teenagers who are tired of having a step parent in the home.

In addition, you may want to present evidence that you don’t possess the character of a child molester. This is typically evaluated by a psychologist and may be augmented by a sexual examination to show that your sexual interests do not include children of the age involved in the case. In many geographical areas there are psychologists who specialize in forensic evaluations of this nature. If your purpose is for plea bargaining, you want to make sure you get an expert the D.A. respects. If your purpose is for trial, you want to make sure you get one with good academic credentials who can withstand what will surely be an aggressive cross-examination by the prosecutor.