Accused of a Sex Crime in New Jersey? A Practical Guide to Navigating an Unfair Process – Part 2
What to Do When You Are a Suspect in a Sexual Assault or Sexual Contact Investigation in New Jersey – Pre-Charge and Pre-Arrest (Continued)
Rule #2 – Never speak to the police without first speaking to an attorney.
So Rule 1 leads us to the necessity of Rule 2. Do not speak to the police, under any circumstance, without first talking to a lawyer. Guilt or innocence is not the issue. Remember, if the police have a strong case against you they are not usually asking you to come to headquarters or inviting you down to speak. Once they have probable cause to arrest (a well-founded suspicion or belief in your guilt), they can show up at your house or job and simply arrest you.
When they are calling you or inviting you down to the station without an escort, it is usually because they think they first need a confession to bolster their case before they charge you. In other words, there may be some weakness in their case that is preventing them from charging you right away. The weakness could be a number of things: alleged victim didn’t report it for months (or years), the victim cannot remember exactly what happened, or a physical examination of the alleged victim revealed no physical signs of sexual assault and/or no DNA evidence was detected.
Do not help them tighten the noose. You may think that your expressions of innocence or explanations as to how the victim “misunderstood” your actions will help your cause but it may be all the police needs to meet their burden and arrest you.
In a sexual assault or sexual contact case, seemingly innocent explanations are often turned around on you and used to confirm aspects of the victim’s story. Remember RULE 1, they believe the alleged victim and believe you must be guilty. Your intention may be to exonerate yourself but you almost always inadvertently support the victim’s otherwise unsupportable story. For example, the victim may have told the police you sexually assaulted her on a specific date and a specific time after you first got her drunk. You tell the police you have nothing to hide. In fact, you tell them that you remember the day well. You were both together in the park enjoying each other’s company. You brought a six-pack of beer and only gave her 2 beers while you walked hand in hand. You dropped her off at her home and did nothing more than kiss her on the cheek before driving her home. Nothing sexual happened between you that night. The police will say, “thank you very much, can you now please turn around and place your hands behind your back”.
Your seemingly innocent explanation may have just been the last nail in your coffin. Prior to your statement, the only witness that police may have had putting you two together was the alleged victim. Now, her “story” has been completely corroborated or supported by you. Also, by virtue of your story, the date and time of the offense have now been confirmed as well as the involvement of alcohol. What is even worse, is that if she claimed you drugged her (despite no supporting medical evidence), you just admitted to giving her two drinks (you could have spiked) right before she claims she was sexually assaulted!
Always keep in mind – the police don’t believe you. They expect you are going to deny the crime but all they are really looking for is your confirmation of the facts they learned from the victim. Among the vast universe of all the people that could have committed the crime, you may have just narrowed that down to you. You may have gone to police headquarters to talk your way out of this absurd allegation but, instead, you have grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory simply by opening up your mouth. I have had many cases where a defendant has avoided being charged simply by refusing to speak to the police.
I know it is not easy to fight the urge to speak. Part of the problem, however, is that the police have experience in the legal principles involved, the art of manipulation, and the single-minded desire to charge you with an offense. The accused, on the other hand, usually has no working knowledge of the law or experience in answering an accusation. For example, you may logically think a victim’s misrepresentation of her age is a defense in a consensual sexual assault case but, sadly, you would be wrong. Knowledge of an underage victim’s age is not a defense to a statutory sexual assault (victim under 16 and defendant at least 4 years older). You are at a complete tactical disadvantage by virtue of your lack-of knowledge.
You may also think that the police could not lie about the evidence they have because, well, that would be unfair, right? Right or wrong, they are allowed to lie about evidence that does not exist in an effort to get you to confess. They may say, for example, your DNA was found inside the victim’s vagina when, in fact, they never even tested the victim. They could tell you that you were videotaped leaving the victim’s apartment when no such videotape exists. Time and again, the New Jersey courts have upheld the police use of “deceit and trickery” in their effort to obtain a confession from a suspect. The bottom line is you do not sufficiently know the law and you do not have the experience to talk your way out of being charged by an experienced police officer committed to charging you with a sexual assault. The bottom line is this – you cannot hurt yourself by asking for a lawyer. If the police “need” to speak to your then tell them you want a lawyer to be present and will not talk to them without first speaking to a lawyer – they can wait.
Click here to read about General Rule Number 3 when accused of sexual assault or sexual contact in New Jersey – always assume the victim will go to the police.
Contact a Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer at Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC
If you are accused or charged with sexual assault or sexual contact in New Jersey, we can help. Do not navigate this unfair process alone. Call Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC immediately at (732) 303-7857. The consultation is free but the advice may be priceless.