Being accused of sexual assault can have a devastating effect on all aspects of your life. If you are facing sex crime charges, it is important to take certain steps to protect your rights. The first thing to do is contact a local criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in Pennsylvania sexual assault laws. A lawyer can help you understand the charges you are facing and advise you of the best way to proceed.
Sexual Assault Charges in Pennsylvania
Depending on the circumstances of the case, sexual assault may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony in Pennsylvania. Rape is the most serious sexual offense and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $25,000. Typically, a defendant who is convicted of a sex crime in Pennsylvania must register as a sex offender as well.
Steps to Take if You Have Been Charged with a Sex Crime
Underestimating the potential repercussions of sexual assault charges can be a grave mistake. Although our criminal justice system works most of the time, innocent people are sometimes convicted of crimes. Even if you merely suspect that you may soon be arrested or accused of sexual assault, contact a sex crimes attorney immediately.
Do Not Discuss the Allegations with Anyone
If you feel that you have been wrongly accused, you may feel compelled to tell your side of the story right away. Criminal lawyers always advise clients to refrain from speaking to law enforcement officers or anyone else about the alleged incident. Do not talk about the allegations with your friends, family, or anyone other than your attorney. Your loved ones may be called as witnesses against you in court and your words could be twisted to make you look guilty.
Even if you haven’t yet been arrested, if the police want to interview you, do not answer any questions. Always invoke your right to remain silent and never talk to the police or other law enforcement officials without a lawyer present.
Do Not Reach Out to the Alleged Victim
You may also be tempted to clear the air with your accuser. This is an extraordinarily bad idea. Do not talk to the alleged victim or ask someone else to speak to them on your behalf. You should also refrain from contacting any of their friends or family.
Listen to Your Attorney
Your lawyer’s job is to protect your rights and interests. Anything they ask you to do is for good reason. Although it can be challenging to keep a cool head when facing such serious charges, working with your attorney to prepare for court can give you a purpose and help you feel better. Your lawyer may ask you to write a summary of your relationship with the alleged victim, what happened that resulted in the accusations, and create a timeline of events. It’s also important to collect other evidence that may aid your defense, such as call logs, voicemails, texts, emails, DMs, and social media posts. You should also compile a list of potential witnesses your attorney may want to interview.
If you have been charged with sexual assault, it’s critical to find a criminal defense attorney you can trust. The experienced team at our full-service law firm in West Chester, PA works collaboratively to provide exceptional legal representation to all our clients.