A sexual assault accusation is serious, and can change the suspect’s life. Consulting with a college crimes attorney is imperative as an accusation in a college setting could lead to arrest, conviction, expulsion from the school, and the inability to re-enroll. Even a false accusation could damage the defendant’s reputation forever. It is critical to protect yourself as soon as you hear about someone’s intent to accuse you of sexual assault. You can take steps to minimize your chances of conviction.
From the moment of your detainment, school administrators will be judging your actions, appearance, and behavior for signs of guilt. Come off as calm and collected as you can. Remind yourself you have rights as the accused, and that a lawyer will be able to help you fix the situation shortly. In the meantime, a calm and polite demeanor can help you build credibility and cast doubt on the accuser’s story.
Be Careful What You Say Without an Attorney Present
School investigators and campus police officers are not your friends. If they request to question or interview you, politely decline until you have an attorney present. Do not believe an investigator who tells you everything will be fine if you just explain what happened. These are deceitful tactics interrogators can lawfully use to elicit confessions from sexual assault perpetrators. Cooperate with commands and directions, but explain that you will not be answering any questions until you have spoken to a sex crimes lawyer.
Write Down What Happened
Document your version of events as early as possible, while they are still fresh in your mind. Record a detailed description of where you were, who you were with, who else was there, and what happened from your side of the story. Do not show your written report to investigators or police, but instead take it to an attorney. Talking to an attorney about a sexual assault accusation can be one of the best ways to ensure you do not say or do anything incriminating in the early stages of your case.
Do Not Contact the Accuser
It generally will not help you to contact or interact with the accuser in any way after a sexual assault allegation. Once the alleged victim comes forward with his or her story, investigators can use any interactions between you two against you during a criminal case. Keep your distance and do not attempt to contact the accuser. You may also want to break contact with the accuser’s friends. Instead, call a lawyer and ask what to do about your situation.
Ask the School About Its Process
It is your right to find out the school’s exact process for handling sexual assault accusations. Check student guidebooks to read about the investigation process. Knowing the process can help you speak out if the school deviates from what it should do. Ask investigators to give you the specific details of the allegation. The school must give you the facts of your case so far, to give you the opportunity to defend yourself.
Think About Why the False Accusation Happened
Thinking about why the person would accuse you of sexual assault can help you explain your side of the story to administrators. Note, however, not to say anything that may be incriminating while speaking to investigators – even admitting to having sexual relations with the accuser.
Contact a Lawyer
Your future is in jeopardy if someone in college accuses you of rape or sexual assault. Before anything else happens, call a local criminal defense lawyer who specializes in sexual assault cases. You can trust your lawyer to have your best interests and to protect you in this tumultuous situation. Speaking to a lawyer can inform you of your rights, as well as give you advice on what to do next. A lawyer can also take over communications with investigators and police officers.