Being accused of sexual assault is frightening. It is an accusation that can alter someone’s personal and professional life forever. That’s why for those accused of this crime, it’s critical to understand the process of what happens after an initial accusation is made.
Were you accused of sexual assault? Reach out to the criminal defense team at The Law Offices of Jed Silverman to see what our experienced attorneys can do for your case.
Defining Sexual Assault
According to Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.011, sexual assault is defined as sexual conduct without consent from the other person. This includes sexual conduct:
- By way of violence or other physical force;
- By threatening to use violence or physical force;
- With an individual who does not have the mental capacity to consent;
- With an individual who does not give consent because they are unaware that an assault is occurring;
- With someone who is unconscious, physically unable to resist, or is impaired due to being given a substance without their knowledge;
- As coercion with a public servant;
- As coercion because of their status as a mental health or other health care service provider; and,
- As coercion because of their status as a clergyperson or spiritual adviser.
Investigating a Sexual Assault
It is the role of law enforcement to investigate any criminal allegation, including sexual assault. When they are made aware of a sexual assault allegation, it is the responsibility of law enforcement to find the evidence and the person or people who they believe committed that crime. Through a thorough investigation, law enforcement will talk to the alleged victim and may question people who may be connected to the person or people they believe are responsible for the crime. Then, if they have enough evidence, law enforcement would most likely bring in the suspect or suspects for questioning or make an arrest.
When questioned by law enforcement or arrested, the suspect or suspects may be confused or unaware of why they are being targeted. Suspects may not remember specific information about the alleged actions and law enforcement may try to get the suspect or suspects to willfully give up information that may end up hurting the suspect in the long run.
Before talking with law enforcement, even if they are not under arrest, a suspect should always have a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney present so that they don’t reveal any information that could be self-incriminating in the future. Additionally, a suspect should keep the following in mind:
- Law enforcement will most likely record conversations they have with anyone involved in their investigation. That includes the alleged victim, anyone else who may be aware of the accusation or the accused, and the suspect.
- Officers do not have to tell truth while questioning anyone. This false representation is their way of trying to get information out of people who may be intimated by being questioned by law enforcement.
- A person of interest in a sexual assault should not issue an apology or interact with the alleged victim in any way. Law enforcement may ask the alleged victim to send a text message, email, or another form of communication to the suspect in hopes to lure the suspect to apologize or admit guilt to the allegation.
Potential Consequences for Sexual Assault
The consequences are severe if an individual ends up being arrested and later found guilty of sexual assault. Typically, a sexual assault conviction is considered a second-degree felony which can be punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Additionally, the convicted felon would have to register on the state’s sexual offender registry. Other fines and penalties may also be imposed by the judge depending on the severity of the case.
What Should I Do if Law Enforcement Contacts Me About a Sexual Assault?
Just because a law enforcement officer contacts you about a sexual assault case does not mean you are being charged or will be convicted of the crime. Even if officers say they only want to talk to you and you’re not under arrest, it’s best to have an attorney present.
The dedicated criminal defense team at The Law Offices of Jed Silverman is here to help you should you face this type of accusation. See how we’ve helped others who have faced similar situations and reach out so we can get working on your case right away.