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should I try to convince my accuser to drop sexual assault charges?

Should I Try to Convince My Accuser to Drop Sexual Assault Charges

Published: Dec 17, 2019 in Sex Crimes

If you’ve been accused of a sexual assault, you probably thought about making contact with your accuser and trying to convince them to drop the charges. Not only is it generally a bad idea to talk to the alleged victim in a criminal case, the victim doesn’t even have the power to drop the charges. And contrary to popular belief, victims don’t decide to press charges in the first place–this decision is up to the prosecutor’s office and in more serious cases, a grand jury.

In the rare circumstances where you might want to speak with the alleged victim, it’s best to do so only after consulting with a lawyer.

When you’re facing sexual misconduct charges, the best strategy is to avoid talking about your case with anyone except for an experienced criminal defense lawyer. For a consultation about your defense options in a sexual assault case, call the Law Offices of Ned Barnett today at (713) 904-1066.

Do Not Discuss Your Case with Anyone Besides Your Lawyer

The Constitution guarantees your right to remain silent if you are faced with a criminal prosecution. Police officers and prosecutors are skilled in taking any statements you make to investigators, accusers, or even third parties and twisting them to make you appear guilty.

Imagine how it would look to a jury if they heard evidence that you sent multiple text messages to the accuser, begging them to drop charges. This conduct could be just as easily understood by the jury as the acts of an innocent person trying to avoid an unwarranted trial, or of a guilty person trying their best to avoid the consequences of their actions. The jury cannot read your mind, and how they interpret evidence about your conduct is largely out of your control. For this reason, you should make every effort to avoid the amount of controversial evidence you give the prosecutor.

Contacting Your Accuser May Hurt You

Even if you have not yet been charged with a sex crime, and the alleged victim has only raised the issue at work or only made informal accusations, it’s still a good idea to talk with an attorney first.

Even though you are not yet under criminal investigation, your statements and conduct could still be used in a later criminal prosecution. If you do believe that the accuser might be convinced to recant their story, then you should only take this route with an experienced lawyer.

Bear in mind that a person can only drop a civil case, such as one for sexual harassment. Accusers do not control criminal charges like sexual assault. If you successfully settle a sexual harassment case out of court, nothing is stopping the prosecutor from bringing sexual assault charges if they obtain evidence of wrongdoing.

Once criminal charges are brought, trying to convince the accusing witness to change their story may result in additional charges of witness tampering. And even your earlier attempts to settle the matter informally with the accuser may come back to haunt you at trial.

What About Negotiating a Civil Settlement?

The government has an interest in promoting the informal settlement of cases, so they generally will not allow a prosecutor to present evidence of settlement negotiations in the context of civil or criminal proceedings to prove the defendant’s guilt. But prosecutors can work around this rule with relative ease. If they can show that your earlier statements were not really attempts to negotiate, they can use your statements to prove that you were trying to cover up your wrongdoing.

And if you were legitimately negotiating a settlement with the accuser in anticipation of possible civil litigation, your statements and actions can still be used against you at your criminal trial, but only for limited purposes. Although the prosecutor cannot present your settlement attempts as evidence of your guilt, this evidence may serve to show your bias, prejudice, or even an attempt to obstruct the criminal investigation into your conduct.

Instead, Work with a Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer

Trying to convince the accusing witness to recant their story can have negative consequences on your criminal case. These are not the best strategies for avoiding the consequences of a sex crime conviction. Instead, hire an experienced and aggressive sex crime defense lawyer who can use proven and effective strategies on your behalf, such as discrediting the accusing witness’s story or demonstrating that you made no physical contact with them.

If you’re facing sex crime accusations, call the Law Offices of Ned Barnett today at (713) 904-1066 for a free and confidential consultation.