What’s worse than sexual crimes against children? When you are innocent of the charge but you get arrested and prosecuted anyway. Police departments and district attorney’s offices throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex have special divisions that investigate and prosecute crimes against children, which is why those accused of sex crimes should use a specialized defense.
The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Article 38.03 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, both guarantee the right to be presumed innocent — even if the charge involves sexual abuse of a child. Everyone, regardless of the charge, is presumed innocent unless and until the prosecution can prove guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. But don’t try to tell that to someone under investigation, arrest, or indictment for a sexual crime against a child. The accusation alone ruins lives.
When a child alleges a sex crime, you can bet the farm that the police will make an arrest and the local district attorney’s office will prosecute. But people (and especially children) sometimes misspeak, or exaggerate, or lie, or get confused, or are put-up to making an accusation by someone they love or fear. The problem is that law enforcement officials investigate and prosecute claims of sexual abuse under the assumption that children are incapable of lying or misspeaking. Cops and prosecutors proceed in these cases assuming that if a child accuses someone of a sexual crime, it has to be true. But common sense tells us otherwise.
Prosecutors are not in the business of arguing with children who make accusations of sexual misconduct. Instead, once a child accuses someone (usually a family member or friend of the family) of a sexual crime, everyone involved with law enforcement — from the police, CPS workers, counselors, child forensic interviewers, to prosecutors — all line up to praise the child and encourage him/her to stick with the original story. The police and prosecution system that handles these cases, whether intentionally or not, encourages the child accuser to stick with his/her original statement, even when the child wants to take it back.
This is especially problematic when the child misspeaks or exaggerates an accusation of sexual abuse. With all the pressure applied from law enforcement — as well intentioned as they may be — the child oftentimes feels trapped and forced to stick with the original accusation even when it is only partially true or completely false. That’s why it is imperative that you seek out the assistance of an experienced, aggressive, criminal defense attorney who understands the unique challenges and opportunities involved in questioning a child accuser on the witness stand.
Cases involving accusations of sex crimes against children often come down to what the child testifies to in court. Knowing how to cross-examine a child accuser can be the difference between winning or losing at trial; the difference between going home or going to prison. Legal scholar J. Wigmore described cross-examination as “beyond any doubt the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.” J. Wigmore, Evidence § 1367, p. 32 (J. Chadbourn rev. 1974). That is especially true in child sex abuse cases.
Being accused of a sexual crime against a child is not the time to play nice-guy. To borrow an old western phrase: it’s time to put all “Winchesters on the fence-line.” In my experience, the only way to handle these cases is by being 100% prepared to fight the charge in front of a jury. The prosecution has to know and understand that you are going to go all the way. Being thoroughly prepared for trial not only maximizes your chances of a favorable outcome at trial, but dramatically increases the likelihood of resolving the case prior to trial on terms favorable to the accused.
It is understandable that the District Attorney’s Offices in North Texas (Collin County, Dallas County, Denton County, Tarrant County, Grayson County, Rockwall County, Hunt County, Fannin County) vigorously prosecute sexual offenses against children. These are sometimes real crimes with real victims, and children deserve the protection of the law. But being accused doesn’t mean being guilty. And the law protects those accused of even the most horrific criminal accusations. You’ve got to fight back with everything you’ve got, or you’ll get run over.
Some of the most prosecuted sexual offenses against children include:
1. Sexual assault of a child (Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.011).
2. Aggravated sexual assault of a child (Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.021).
3. Indecency with a child by contact (Texas Penal Code Sec. 21.11 (a)(1).
4. Indecency with a child by exposure (Texas Penal Code Sec. 21.11(a)(2).
5. Continuous sexual abuse of child (Texas Penal Code Sec. 21.02).
6. Sexual performance of a child (Texas Penal Code Sec. 43.25).
7. Human trafficking of a child (Texas Penal Code Sec. 20A.02).
8. Compelling prostitution (Texas Penal Code Sec. 43.05).
If you or a loved one is under investigation for, or charged with, a sexual crime against a child, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney like Keith Gore as soon as possible to begin mounting an aggressive, vigorous, comprehensive, and ethical defense.