Facing charges for sexual assault is a frightening prospect. It’s a sensitive topic matter that can have an immediate, and lasting, impact on your freedom, career, and personal relationships. If you are accused of sexual assault follow these basic steps to protect yourself and your future.
Stay Calm, Stay Quiet
This applies when you are accused of any type of criminal offence. Do NOT attempt to defend yourself to the police, the accuser, or witnesses. Doing so is far more likely to result in a mistake or scenario which worsens your position.
Generally, it is best not to speak to anyone about any aspect of the case—including the police—until discussing your options with a criminal defence lawyer. At this point, anything you say can be used against you in court. Even if you say something that should help you, it will be ignored. Once the police arrest you and lay charges, they have made up their minds that you are guilty. There is no benefit to trying to convince them otherwise.
Find a Sexual Assault Lawyer
Your next priority is to find a criminal defence lawyer who has specific experience defending sexual assault charges.
In addition to experience, the best criminal lawyer for you is one whom you trust and are able to communicate openly and effectively. You will be working closely with this person and you need to be able to be completely honest with them as well as having confidence in their capabilities as your lawyer.
If there is a significant communication problem or lack of trust in your defence, consider changing your lawyer before the trial begins.
Assess the Severity of Your Charges
It is common, especially when the defendant is innocent, to underestimate the severity of the situation they are facing. Coming to terms with the realities of sexual assault charges is a difficult, but necessary step in preparing for what’s to come.
Meeting with a criminal lawyer who is knowledgeable in sexual assault charges, provides the opportunity to assess and understand the charges and evidence against you. As well, it can provide a clearer understanding of your available options and their potential outcomes.
Building a Defence
Ultimately, building a sexual assault defence is the responsibility of the criminal lawyer. Although you are best served to defer to their experience and expertise, there may be some steps you can take to help their cause.
Create a Timeline
After reviewing disclosure documents, create a detailed chronological outline of events. Include everything from the beginning of the alleged events, including all interactions and developments leading up to the charges. Consider not only your recollection, but also what evidence may be available through witnesses, email, texts, or other sources.
Create a Witness List
Provide your lawyer with a complete list of witnesses who could be relevant to the trial. Your timeline is a useful reference for recognizing potential witnesses. Include both positive and negative witnesses, as you do not want your lawyer to be surprised by, or unaware of, witnesses who may be asked to testify against you. Arm your sexual assault lawyer with as much relevant information as possible.
Save all relevant evidence and communications surrounding the accusations and alleged events. Criminal defence lawyers are evidence experts, consult with your lawyer for advice on what you need to preserve.
Consult with your lawyer on which, if any, relevant experts you should include in the defence. This can include retaining an expert witness, hiring a private investigator, or pursuing scientific testing.
Toronto Sexual Assault Lawyer
William Jaksa understands the stigma that stems from being charged with a sexual assault-related offence. He has experience dealing with highly sensitive and publicized sexual offence cases.
We are aware of a client’s need to protect their privacy and reputation. Contact William Jaksa for your consultation.