New York Sex Crimes: Defense Strategies

New York Sex Crimes: Defense Strategies

Being accused of a sex crime can have catastrophic effects on a person’s life – and a conviction will almost certainly change every aspect of it, not least because the person will likely be expected to register as a sex offender.

In New York, where the legal landscape around sex crimes is intricate and always evolving, it’s essential that you have an attorney on your side who can make sure the law is applied correctly and that your rights are upheld at all times. This should always be the case – regardless of the circumstances surrounding any accusation.

In this guide, we’ll take a detailed look at the kind of defense strategies an experienced New York sex crimes lawyer will consider if you find yourself accused of this kind of crime.

The Broad Range of New York Sex Crimes

A ‘criminal sexual act,’ as outlined by the New York penal code, can span a wide array of offenses, each carrying its own set of criteria and potential penalties. Charges can include, but are not limited to:

  • Aggravated sexual abuse
  • Child Pornography
  • Forcible Touching
  • Indecent exposure
  • Internet sex crimes
  • Sexual abuse
  • Solicitation
  • Prostitution
  • Rape charges
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Sexual intercourse or contact with a minor

With such a wide range of charges coming under the umbrella of ‘sex crimes,’ there is an even more expansive range of possible penalties based on the nuance of a specific allegation. The factors can escalate a charge from misdemeanor to felony – so it’s essential that an experienced attorney looks carefully at the charge before putting together the most fitting defense approach.

Your Constitutional Right to Defense

If you’re facing a charge that brings into question your sexual conduct or suggests unwanted sexual contact with another person, you might feel that the odds are stacked against you – especially because of the weight of public opinion that surrounds sex offenses.

No matter how powerful this feeling is, it is essential that you remember your constitutional right to a defense and a fair trial. You are innocent until it is proven otherwise – and the right attorney will make sure this is understood by everyone involved in the legal processes you encounter.

When arrested and faced with charges of any kind, it’s easy to assume that law enforcement or your accuser has the upper hand. This is not the case with any allegation, let alone one that could so seriously change the rest of your life. Your attorney will make sure that the law is applied correctly through every step – from arrest to possible trial. By doing so, you can be confident that justice will be applied exactly as it is intended – without bias or preconception of any kind.

Common Defense Strategies in New York Sex Crime Cases

The specifics of your case will be considered by your attorney before they begin to work on a defense. However, there are common themes that experienced attorneys will begin by considering. They include:

False Accusations

Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of a sex crime relates to the possibility of false accusations.

In some situations, allegations may arise from simply misunderstandings, where actions or intentions were misconstrued. In other cases, personal vendettas, grudges, or the desire for revenge can drive someone to make unfounded accusations. To cloud the issue further, the emotions that come from fraught relationships, contentious breakups, or even custody battles can sometimes add fuel to such allegations.

Of course, not all false accusations come from a place of malice. Inconsistencies in a person’s memories or external influences can lead to genuine but mistaken beliefs about an event.

Your attorney will look closely at each of these possible factors and consider which could apply to your case.

Insufficient Evidence

The standard for conviction for sexual offenses is very high – so it’s the prosecution’s job to demonstrate guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In many sex crime cases, evidence can be based on testimonies with no physical corroboration – making it susceptible to challenge.

Your defense attorney will rigorously analyze every piece of evidence, looking for gaps, inconsistencies, or potential biases. If the prosecution’s evidence is weak or ambiguous in any way, it may not meet the strict standard required for conviction.

Mistaken Identity

Whether dealing with a serious predatory sexual assault or a less serious charge, misidentification is a significant concern.

A factor as simple as poor lighting, stress during the alleged incident, or even biases can significantly impact a victim’s memory, potentially leading to them mistakenly identifying an innocent person as the perpetrator.

Your defense attorney will look carefully at these factors, paying careful attention to identification methods and circumstances. By doing so, a prosecutor or jury can be made aware of potential inaccuracies in the case.

Consent as a Defense

Consent is a highly contentious issue – one that is frequently visited by the media and an interested general public. Consent is absolutely central to many sex crime cases, and the law states that it must be clear, voluntary, and informed.

While this appears simple on paper, it becomes much more difficult to interpret after the fact. This issue becomes even harder to navigate successfully when it’s potentially clouded by the possibility of false accusations.

An effective attorney will likely explore consent and how the question of consent ties to other possible defense strategies.

A Potential Alibi

Although not unique to sex crime cases, a skilled attorney will always look for the possibility of an alibi when challenging the prosecution.

An alibi can be a powerful defense if it can be proved that the person being accused was in a different place when the alleged crime took place. In the best cases, your attorney will work with other people to find irrefutable evidence – such as video footage or witness testimony of the accused’s whereabouts – challenging the feasibility of your involvement in the crime.

The Important Roles of Expert Witnesses in Sex Crime Defenses

In sex crime cases, it’s often essential to call in the support of expert witnesses – and their testimony can be an important factor in changing the court’s perspective.

Such experts, often with backgrounds in psychology, forensics, or digital technology, bring a depth of specialized knowledge that can challenge or validate the evidence presented. For instance, a forensic expert can explain the intricacies of DNA findings or a physical injury, while a psychologist might provide insights into the reliability of memories or testimonies. Digital experts can assess electronic evidence like text messages or online interactions.

Cases that involve sexual assault, sexual abuse, or apparently unwanted sexual contact can be extremely emotionally charged, even in court. By seeking the support of an expert witness, an attorney can offer some clarity and objectivity – helping to bring a jury back to the case at hand.

Making Sure Your Rights Are Upheld

Despite the emotive nature of sex crime allegations, justice must still play out in a way that upholds your rights. You’re innocent until proven guilty and have a right to a fair trial – and, given the consequences of a sex crime conviction – it is absolutely essential that these rights are respected and strictly adhered to.

This is where choosing the right attorney is vital. An experienced lawyer will understand how your rights can be contravened – sometimes unintentionally – when a prosecutor lays out their case. Defenses are not aspects of a case or trial that a lawyer puts forward merely hoping they will stick or sway a jury – they’re elements of a case that are there to make sure the justice process works absolutely equally, laying out facts or inaccuracies in otherwise highly charged situations.

Sex crimes are incredibly serious. You need an attorney on your side who understands this seriousness and works hard to make sure your defense is effective. If you’d like to hear more about how the experienced team at The Law Offices of Julie Rendelman handles sex crime cases, we invite you to contact us without delay.