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Preparing For Trial in a DC Sex Abuse Case

If charged with sex abuse in Washington, DC the following is what you should be prepared for in court. To learn more about the specifics of your case, call and schedule a consultation with a DC sex crimes lawyer today.

Where Are Sex Abuse Cases Typically Prosecuted?

Sex abuse cases are almost always prosecuted in state court. The case would only be in federal court if it involves a violation of a federal law—for example, if it occurred across state lines or if it occurred on federal property. In D.C., you see more crimes committed on federal properties simply because D.C. has so much federal property. Still, the vast majority of sexual abuse cases that involve physical contact between two people are going to be prosecuted in state court. Here in D.C., since it’s not a state, we have a Superior Court, which is the equivalent of state court.

What Should a Defendant Be Prepared For Before Their First Court Date?

They should know that these cases are taken extremely seriously by both the prosecution and the court, that there may be serious penalties possible for conviction, and that they may have consequences to their employment or freedom of movement based upon the nature of the charges. This means someone who’s charged with sexual abuse oftentimes finds themselves out of a job simply because the nature of the charge makes employers very uncomfortable due to the negative publicity or just negative thoughts about the nature of the charges.

They should be prepared for the possibility that their life may turn completely upside down, at least in the short term. It’s the attorney’s job to try to straighten that back out, but in the short term when someone’s charged with a sexual abuse offense, they can often expect to have some negative consequences, even though they haven’t been convicted of anything.

What Kind of Publicity Should Someone Facing Sex Abuse Charges Be Prepared For?

What they should definitely know is that they shouldn’t speak to anyone about their case before consulting with an attorney. Also, as the case progresses, consult with their attorney about what they may want to say to anyone else, because anything a defendant speaks to his attorney about is covered by the attorney-client privilege. Anything they talk to anyone else about is not.

With regard to publicity, they should know that in certain types of cases, local, regional, and/or national media may be interested—usually if the individual who’s accused is a public figure or is someone in a sensitive position, like a bus driver, a teacher, or a principal. Those are the ones that may have media interest.

The defendant should not speak to the media directly; they should talk to their attorney. The attorney may decide to talk to the media, but usually not. They may make a general statement asserting the client’s innocence, but in most cases, particularly at the beginning, you’re going to want to make sure that you’ve got the facts straight before you start talking to the media.  There are ways to handle the media, but a defendant in D.C. should be aware of that issue. Many of these cases do involve some media interest, at least initially.

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