As we’ve seen in recent times, a sex crime accusation can ruin a person’s entire life. Accusations, with little evidence, have caused people to lose their jobs, families and reputations.
If sex crime charges are filed, the situation becomes even more serious. A sex crime conviction can mean that you never work in your chosen career again or rebuild relationships. You also face major penalties such as fines and even prison time.
California’s sex crime statute of limitations
The statute of limitations for sex crimes in California is rather long, which means a false accusation could come as a surprise. California law states that prosecutors must file charges either by the alleged victim’s 40th birthday or within 10 years of the alleged offense.
Sex crimes are a serious problem, and no one should discount that fact. However, the reality is that sometimes people do make false sex crime accusations, for any number of reasons. If you have been accused of a sex crime, you need to act immediately. There are things you can do to defend yourself and things you should not do.
What you should do
Do not speak to the police or prosecutors without a criminal defense attorney present. Your criminal defense attorney can also conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations and find out what, if any, direct evidence the prosecution has.
You can also begin gathering your own evidence. Remember that the prosecution must prove you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Evidence can be alibi witnesses, photos, videos or other documents showing casting reasonable doubt on the allegation. You can also collect evidence that shows the alleged victim is not trustworthy, such as evidence that they have lied in the past.
This is called impeachment evidence and is meant to show the person making the accusation should not be trusted. The impeachment evidence does not need to involve another sex crime allegation, but any evidence showing they have lied about something in the past.
What you should not do
You should not contact the alleged victim at all. Any type of contact, including through text message or social media, could damage your case.
Do not destroy evidence that you think might incriminate you. This could result in being charged with another crime. Show the evidence to your attorney instead.
Sex crime allegations can be proven false, but the legal process takes time. Stay calm, be patient and listen to your criminal defense attorney.