3 Ways To Defend Against Charges Of Child Molestation
Being charged with child molestation is extremely serious. The criminal justice system in California is especially harsh on those convicted of crimes involving children in general, and sex crimes involving children in particular. If convicted, you face up to ten years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Because the punishment is so severe, it’s critical to have an experienced defense attorney who can defend you against these charges from the very beginning.
What Constitutes Child Molestation?
You can be charged with child molestation (known in California penal code as “lewd acts with a minor under the age of fourteen”) if you:
- Willfully committed a lewd or lascivious act against a minor under the age of 14
- Committed the act with the purpose of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of yourself or the victim
Both of these conditions must be provable for a prosecutor to convict you of the charges. To defend you against these charges, there are three common strategies that any competent defense attorney will explore:
1) The Touching Was Accidental
The key word in the first condition of child molestation is willfully. If the touching was accidental, you can’t be convicted.
If there is any doubt or lack of clarity about the circumstances regarding the incident you’ve been involved in, your attorney may be able to argue that you did not willfully or purposefully touch the alleged victim for sexual arousal or gratification.
2) There Was A Lack Of Intent
Proving a person’s intent is very difficult to do. A prosecutor must prove that any touching that occurred was done with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify either yourself and/or the alleged victim.
If you do not have a history of sexual harassment, assault, or other sex-related offenses, it will be extremely challenging for a prosecutor to convince a jury of your guilt. Your lawyer will be able to forcefully argue that, based on your history, you do not fit the profile of someone who would commit this type of crime.
3) The Alleged Victim Is Not Credible
It is quite common for charges of child molestation to come down to a “he said, she said” scenario. When this happens, it is your word and credibility versus the word and credibility of the alleged victim.
When the alleged victim is a child, there is often a strong inclination from prosecutors and juries to believe them. To show that the alleged victim should not be trusted, your defense attorney will likely conduct extensive research to find anything in the alleged victim’s past – from behavior at school to social media posts – that shows a tendency to lie and/or a pattern of bad behavior.
It is not uncommon for a minor to allege sexual abuse by an adult as a means of retaliation. A teacher may be accused because they reprimanded a student or gave them a failing grade. A step-parent might be accused because a child is angry about their parent’s divorce or the step-parent’s presence in their home.
Regardless of the circumstances, if you have been accused of child molestation, you need to speak with a defense attorney immediately. For a free consultation about your case, please contact our office today.
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