Criminal charges of a sexual nature are, by their very nature, heavily stigmatized. Regardless of whether or not the accused is guilty of the charge or entirely innocent, they will face countless hurdles after being charged - perhaps more so than those facing many other types of criminal charges. In the court of public opinion, people are quit to assume the worst of someone who has been charged with a sex crime, without taking a meaningful look at the circumstances involved or the merit of the evidence against the accused. Luckily, there are abundant defenses available to those who have been charged with a sex crime in Pennsylvania. When you retain a skilled attorney to represent you in court and present an applicable defense before the judge, you stand a far greater chance of seeing your charges reduced or even dismissed. The objective of a sex crime defense is not to provide the court with definitive, foolproof evidence that the accused is innocent - because such evidence may not exist, even in cases of pure and indisputable evidence. The objective a sex crime defense is to raise reasonable doubt that the accused is actually guilty. In doing so, your attorney may get the judge or jury to return an acquittal.
What Defenses Are Available in Pennsylvania Sex Crime Cases?
Lack of Evidence
As a person accused of a sex crime in Pennsylvania, you should be privy to the fact that state law instructs juries that they convict an individual based solely on defendant statements. Although this would be a "hard pitch" in the absence of all other evidence, it is important to know that, from a legal perspective, all that is needed to convict you is a "victim" stating that you committed a sex crime. If such an individual succeeds on the strength of their statement alone, you could face the steep penalties that come with a sex crime addiction. This relatively low standard of proof in Pennsylvania, meant to make the "conviction-obtaining" process simpler for alleged victims, only punctuates the need to retain an experienced and aggressive Pennsylvania sex crime attorney, to represent you as you move forward in confronting and fighting these charges. This does not by any means indicate that anyone could be convicted of a sex crime simply because they were accused of one, and in the absence of all other evidence, but in theory, a statement alone could generate a conviction in the absence of other evidence. Therefore, it is in your best interest to choose the right attorney and present evidence to the effect that you did not commit the crime - or at least raise reasonable doubt about your role. Ultimately, lack of evidence is not in and of itself a defense against a sex crime charge. You and your lawyer must explore other legal avenues to build a serviceable defense.
Although it seems self-evidence in nature, it is worth exploring the ways in which objective innocence can be built into a viable defense in court. Objective innocence can be established in a number of ways: DNA testing, bulletproof alibi, a case of mistaken identity, or proof of a malicious accusation, for example. It is relatively straightforward; if you are accused of committing a sex crime, but your DNA is nowhere to be found on the victim's body, this may be a credible defense in court depending on the circumstances of your case. In some cases, accusations are made belatedly so a lack of DNA on the victim's body may not be given much weight as a defense to the charge. An alibi is incredibly helpful if the victim states a date and time at which the alleged sex crime occurred. For example, if you can provide security camera footage, receipts, witness corroboration, or other forms of evidence to bolster or outright validate your claim that you were elsewhere at the time of the attack, you may have in effect proved yourself innocent of the crime with which you've been charged. The prosecution will more than likely try to challenge your alibi, aggressively so. This is why you must be prepared with a competent attorney with the experience and courtroom skill necessary to refute and defend against attacks made by the prosecution. You may be in incredibly good shape if your attorney can prove, or at least create reasonable doubt that, the victim mistakenly took you for someone else.
If the consent of the alleged victim is in question, it may be a defense to the accused that the sexual acts that took place were both legal and consensual. In order to rise to illegality, a sexual act must have been carried out in the express absence of the victim's consent. If your attorney can successfully raise evidence that the victim did consent to the sexual conduct, your charges may be dismissed.
Choosing a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
If you were arrested on charges of a sex crime in Philadelphia, it is critical that you immediately seek out the aid of an experience Philadephia criminal defense attorney. The right attorney could mean the difference between dismissal and a conviction. Attorney Joseph Lento of Lento Law Firm is eager to uphold your rights in court and provide a strong defense to your charges. Call Lento Law Firm today at (215) 535-5353.