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When you have been defending clients charged with sex crimes cases for twenty five years, one would hope that you have some words of wisdom to impart to them. Of course the best words of wisdom are the ones you can give before a person finds themselves charged with a crime that can destroy their life. However, since I do not usually have that luxury, I will tell you what I can based on where you are at this point…now is the time to evaluate your life and make the decision to move forward in the right direction. You are now faced with a situation that literally can destroy every part of your life as you know it. The prosecutors and judges have no sympathy in this area of the law. They have serious political pressure on them from the legislature and the public to deal with these cases in the most vicious manner possible.
So at this point, my advice to you is to take your situation seriously and find an attorney that you can trust to defend your rights, reputation and freedom with every ounce of their legal abilities! You will only have one chance to defend yourself…so you better make it count! The prosecutor and judge will consider all the good things that you have done in your life in deciding how they deal with your case…it will be up you your attorney to present this information to them in the most favorable light. Further, they are going to look at the facts of the crime that you are charged with and decide what damage you have caused and what your penalties should be. I am willing to meet with you face to face and give you an honest assessment of your case and tell you what your chances are and what your next step should be.
WHAT SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED WITH AND DO IF YOU ARE CHARGED WITH A SEX CRIME IN LOS ANGELES?
There are a number of important concerns that people should consider that are charged with a sex crime in Los Angeles County. Three of the most important concerns relate to registering as a sex offender, the type of crime that will end up on the person’s record and going to jail or prison. These are all legitimate concerns and depending on the outcome of your criminal case can affect you for the rest of your life.
WILL I HAVE TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER?
Arguably this is the most important concern for a person charged with a sex crime. If a person pleads to a crime that requires sex registration they will typically have to register with their local police department on their birthday for the rest of their life. Also, their picture and information will likely be placed on the Megan’s Law website. The rationale behind this is protection of the public. Authorities want to know where people are that commit crimes that can potential effect the community. There are a number of other significant ramifications that flow from the conviction of a sex offense that should be discussed at a face to face meeting with your attorney.
In defending these type of cases over the last 20+ years, this is one of the toughest negotiating points with the prosecutor. They almost always want the client to register as a sex offender and it is very difficult to convince them or the judge to not require a charge that requires sex registration. However, there are a number of strategies that can be employed by a seasoned Los Angeles criminal attorney that knows the court system to attempt to avoid this requirement.
WHAT TYPE OF CRIME WILL I HAVE TO PLEAD TO?
Many people do not realize that it is the crime that a person pleads guilty to that dictates whether or not they have to register as a sex offender. The prosecutors will look at a number of important factors when deciding what they believe a criminal defendant should plead guilty to and what the appropriate charges should be in a criminal case. A person’s conduct can trigger a number of possible crimes that they can be charged with. It is up to that persons attorney to figure out what the conduct triggers and what can be done to mitigate the situation down to a crime that is going to be the least damaging to that person’s reputation and record.
WILL I HAVE TO GO TO JAIL OR PRISON?
There are a number of important factors that are weighed by the prosecutor and judge in deciding whether they believe a person charged with a sex crime should go to jail or even prison. They will look at the person’s conduct in the present offense, their criminal record and their background. Certainly the type of life a person is leading is an indicator as to whether they will be a repeat offender or not. Their job, family situation and character will all come into play and it is up to their attorney to make the appropriate arguments and mount a defense that portrays their client in the most favorable light.
HOW DO PROSECUTORS AND JUDGES VIEW SEX CRIMES?
This is an important question because how a person views a particular crime or issue will influence the decisions they make related to the outcome of a case. In my 20 plus years of defending sex crimes in Los Angeles, it is clear to me that the key concern on both the prosecutor and judge’s mind is, “If I go too easy on this case, will it come back to haunt me in the future?” They therefore are very cautious about what they do and the position they take regarding the resolution of a sex crime case. Because of the political nature of these type of cases, when it comes right down to it, I have seen many judges and prosecutors make irrational and illogical choices related to how they deal with a sex case, simply because they did not want to put themselves in a position to be blamed for a person charged with a sex crime going free. Of course this is extremely unfair to a person charged with such a serious offense, but this is the reality attendant with a sex crime case.
With the harsh reality and political landscape that go hand and hand with a sex crime, it is essential that your attorney has experience with both sex crime defense and the particular jurisdiction your cases is pending. A great attorney in an arena they are not familiar with will not be nearly as effective as an attorney that is both skilled and local to the courthouse.
HOW DOES A SKILLED DEFENSE ATTORNEY HANDLE A SEX CRIME IN A JURY TRIAL IN LOS ANGELES?
There is a stigma that is attached to anyone charged with a sex crime…even if they are innocent! When I do jury trials, one of the key things I have to deal with from the beginning is that the jury already thinks my client is guilty before the case starts, just because he or she is charged with such a serious crime. I always confront these type of issues head on and ask the jurors if any of them believes that my client is guilty just because he is here in court and being charged…regardless of whether they have heard any of the evidence yet. I would say that almost 100% of the time, people raise their hands and say they think he or she is guilty.
Instead of being angry that the jury is judging my client before they hear any of the evidence, I take this built in prejudice and use it to my client’s advantage. It is at that point that I have the opportunity to educate them on how the system works and the fact that the my client is presumed innocent in the eyes of the law. I take it a step further and let them know that it is their duty to listen to all of the evidence before making any decisions. This gives me the opportunity to find out who we do not want on the jury and to make it crystal clear to the jury that if they were on trial or one of their loved ones, they would not want anyone on the jury that did not follow the law and was bias before the case starts. I also remind them that people are found not guilty all of the time. And, that people are wrongly accused of crimes everyday. Last, I let them know that in America we have the best system in the world, but that it does not work if the jurors do not follow the rules and make the prosecutor prove their case before jumping to the conclusion that someone is guilty without hearing all of the evidence.
ARE THERE SITUATIONS WHERE ALLEGED VICTIM’S STRAIGHT OUT LIE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT ABOUT A SEX CRIME CASE?
Having litigated sex crimes for over two decades, I can tell you without a doubt that people lie to the police everyday about alleged sex crimes. There are numerous reasons that I see that will spawn a lie about a sex case – Just a few examples are – there is a divorce case pending or a custody battle and one side is trying to gain a tactical advantage over another, the alleged victim feels wronged by something the other party did or said (which would normally not be illegal) and they embellish what actually happen when they go to the police. One of the biggest single factors I see that causes an inaccurate or exaggerated story is when alcohol or drugs are involved. I have spoken to law enforcement officers on many occasions who have confirmed that in the process of investigating a particular case, they have come across evidence that clearly establishes that they are being lied to. The list of reasons that I have seen that people lie are endless. The thing that gets me is how the person just completely ignores the fact that they are placing a huge stigma around an innocence person’s neck that is extremely difficult to get off! This is something in my opinion that is unforgivable and must be guarded against at all costs. That is why it is so important to do your homework and make sure that you get the right attorney to represent you for your case.
IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY PRE-FILING IF YOU ARE UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR A SEX CRIME IN LOS ANGELES?
Over the course of defending sex crimes for more than two decades, I have been asked this question countless times. Absolutely it is a great idea to hire a seasoned attorney if you suspect or find out that you are being investigated for a sex crime. The attorney can then act as a buffer between you and law enforcement. If the police attempt to talk to you, then you can refer them to the attorney and not risk incriminating yourself. I have seen statements that the police attribute to my clients, only to be told by my client they never said that or that the police have somehow twisted what they said in order to make it appear that they admitted something that they did not. Do not fall victim to this. With an attorney by your side and advising you, this risk is gone.
Further, your attorney can often times get to the bottom of what is going on through the police or prosecutors much more effectively than you can. This can give you peace of mind when your world seems to be crumbling. Experienced attorneys know exactly who to talk to and what to say in order to figure out where you stand in a criminal investigation. Another important thing that a skilled attorney can do is get your side of the story across to the prosecutors and police before a filing decision is made. The attorney will know what to focus on in order to make the biggest impact. Bottom line, with the potential for serious consequences, there is no question that having a powerful advocate on your side can make the difference between prison and freedom!
HOW IS BAIL HANDLED IN A LOS ANGELES SEX CRIME CASE?
Over the course of the past twenty five years of dealing with sex crime cases in Los Angeles County I have noticed that in recent years the prosecutors and judges mentalities and policies regarding these cases has become more and more extreme. Recently judges are setting unheard of bails for people charged with sex crimes. The legislature and appellant courts have basically given them free reign to stack bails based on the number of charges filed. Sex crimes are one of the few areas of criminal defense where this is permitted. Further, I am seeing clients post bail and then appearing for their arraignment and the prosecutors requesting the judge to raise the bail higher. Your best defense in a sex crime is to find a defense attorney that has been around the block and knows who to talk to and what to say to get you the result you need to save your reputation, freedom and career.
When you come and sit down with me for a face to face consultation, I will educate you on what factors the judge will look at regarding setting bail. We will discuss what you will need to do before the hearing to give you the best chance of not going back into custody. We will also assess whether your best strategy is to fight the case all the way or negotiate the case to a resolution that takes into account your life and the important things that you stand to lose with this type of charge / conviction hanging over you head. Clarity on how to proceed and what you can do to help yourself is a phone call away!
WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE DO WE BRING THAT CAN HELP YOU WITH YOUR SEX CRIME IN ONE OF THE LOS ANGELES COURTHOUSES?
Our Sex Crime Defense Attorneys in Los Angeles have a combined 75 years of experience and our unmatched credentials in all of Los Angeles County, qualify us to defend your sex crime case competently and efficiently. We offer a free face to face consultation and we are here to hear your side of the story and do everything we can to get your charges completely dismissed or get you the minimal amount of penalties possible.