If you have been falsely accused of child molestation, now is the time to gather your strength for the road ahead. The accusations may already be having ripple effects in other areas of your life.
As difficult as the situation is, your primary focus must be on defending against these false claims. Finding the right legal counsel and building a case for your defense is crucial. Read on to view your options when falsely accused of child molestation.
Why do False Accusations of Child Molestation Occur?
No two cases of false accusations of child molestation are alike. But it can be helpful to understand the underlying motives that drive many false accusations.
The National Children’s Advocacy Center examined CPS cases and found that a portion of children falsely accuse adults of sexual abuse after being pressured by another adult, especially a stepparent.
Divorce or separation between parents can also play a role in false accusations. In some situations, one parent will launch accusations of child molestation against another to gain full custody of the child. On the other hand, a child who is angry at one parent may lob false accusations to remove the parent from their life.
Children often do not understand the severity of accusing someone of child molestation. They may fabricate a story about sexual abuse for attention or an act of retaliation against an adult they are unhappy with. In some cases, children have retracted accusations and admitted to making up stories after realizing the ramifications.
Another cause of false accusations of child molestation is a lack of clarity. A child may not understand what sexual abuse is and be confused about what it means. In these cases, further questioning of the child may uncover the misunderstanding.
It is also not uncommon for children, especially younger children, to have false memories. In other words, the child is convinced that they were molested when nothing ever happened at all. This is a complex area that often requires expert testimony. Suffice to say for purposes of this article, it is something that should be considered in examining false accusations.
What to Do When You Are Falsely Accused of Child Molestation
Despite the anxiety, confusion, and anger you may be feeling, it’s vital to remain clear-headed at this time. The next steps you take can either help or harm you in a court of law. Formulate a plan of action to fight back against these false claims.
1. Understand the Weight of the Accusation
First, realize that there are few accusations as serious as the accusation of child molestation. If you are convicted of child molestation in a court of law, the punishments are severe and have lifelong implications.
|Crime + Degree||Definition||Severity||Maximum Penalty|
|Child Molestation in the first degree (RCW 9A.44.083)||The person has, or knowingly causes another person under the age of eighteen to have, sexual contact with another who is under 12 years old and not married to the perpetrator. The perpetrator is at least thirty-six months older than the victim.||Class A Felony||Life in prison and/or a fine of $50,000|
|Child molestation in the second degree (RCW 9A.44.086)||The person has, or knowingly causes another person under the age of eighteen to have, sexual contact with another who is between 12 and 14 years old and not married to the perpetrator. The perpetrator is at least thirty-six months older than the victim.||Class B Felony||Ten years in prison and/or a fine of $20,000|
|Child molestation in the third degree (RCW 9A.44.089)||The person has, or knowingly causes another person under the age of eighteen to have, sexual contact with another who is over 14 but under 16 years old and not married to the perpetrator. The perpetrator is at least forty-eight months older than the victim.||Class C Felony||Five years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000|
Keep in mind, the penalties above are the maximum penalties that the law allows.
However, even lesser penalties come with long-lasting repercussions. A person convicted of child molestation must register as a sex offender with the county sheriff. This registration is public knowledge and available to community members and potential employers.
2. Contact an Attorney
With the consequences of a child molestation conviction in mind, it’s time to protect yourself. Some people think, “Will hiring a lawyer make me look guilty?” The truth is, hiring a lawyer is the smartest move you can make. An experienced criminal defense attorney will assist you in navigating the legal processes.
Because the stakes are so high, select an attorney with experience defending those accused of sex crimes. Your lawyer will gather evidence and prepare a defense to clear you of the charges. Typically, there is no burden of proof that falls on you. The alleged victim must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that an instance of sexual abuse took place. Your attorney will explain the circumstances of your case as they determine how to proceed.
3. Don’t Speak to the Police Without Representation
You will likely have contact with law enforcement shortly after the accusation is reported. Even though you know you are being falsely accused of child molestation, you must refrain from discussing these matters with police officers.
You should be cooperative and polite to the police, but that’s it. Wait until your attorney is present before speaking with them about the alleged crimes. Remember that you have an absolute right under the US Constitution to remain silent and not speak with them.
If your legal counsel is present, you will have guidance on what questions to answer, if any.
4. Stay Away From the Accuser
After being falsely accused of child molestation, you may consider reaching out to the accuser or the accuser’s family to come to an understanding. Do not make this mistake.
A judge may bar you from contacting the accuser and those around them. Even if this is not in place, meeting with the alleged victim can harm your chances of clearing your name. For instance, the alleged victim or their family member can claim that you attempted to threaten or silence them. Emotions run high in these conversations, and you may say or do something that you regret.
As your attorney works tirelessly to defend you against baseless accusations, you need to do your part and remain distanced from the accuser.
5. Create a Detailed Account of Events and Witnesses
Last, take time to assemble facts and pieces of evidence that will bolster your case.
Write a detailed timeline of the events in question as soon as you can. Photos with timestamps, receipts, tickets and other documentation of your whereabouts may be useful to your attorney. That way, the memory of the day or days in question are still fresh in your mind.
Also, find trustworthy witnesses that can attest to your character and your alibi, if possible.
Work closely with your attorney, and do your best to provide them with the information they request.
Don’t Risk Your Future. Speak with an Expert Attorney About Your Options Today
Accusations of child molestation can have a disastrous effect in many areas of your life. To fight back and bring forward a solid case, you need to work with a skilled and intelligent legal team. Will & Will Law Firm brings over 35 years of experience to the table and is committed to fighting for each client.
Whether you have criminal defense questions or need advice about navigating your unique situation, the legal team at Will & Will is here to help. We are an award-winning law firm due to our tireless dedication to our clients and the successful results we’ve had over the years.