If you or a loved one are being investigated in Harris County, Texas for a sex offense, then hiring a skilled sex crime defense attorney should be your #1 priority.
A sex crime investigation is a serious situation in which authorities are investigating an individual to determine whether there is enough proof to charge them with committing a crime that is sexual in nature. This type of investigation can be initiated by victims or witnesses who may have suspicion or evidence indicating that a sexual offense took place. Crimes of this nature have heavy penalties and can lead to a lasting negative impact throughout a person’s life.
According to the Texas Penal Code, sex crimes are defined as several illegal activities and behaviors that range from indecent exposure to rape, and from prostitution to Internet stalking of a sexual nature. Sex crimes can result in more than just lengthy prison or jail sentences and fines; they can also have long-lasting negative consequences with regard to the criminal background of the defendant.
If you recently discovered that you’re being investigated for a sex crime in the Houston area, you probably feel scared, confused and anxious. Even if the allegation is completely false, it must be taken seriously and you need to be proactive in taking steps to defend your rights.
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The Burden of a Sex Crime Investigation
Many different agencies may investigate a sex crime allegation, from local Texas law enforcement agencies to Child Protective Services (CPS) to federal investigators like the FBI. The actual investigation that takes place can be disruptive to both the personal and professional life of the person who is being investigated, regardless of their innocence.
The police will often want to interview the accuser and the alleged perpetrator to obtain information. This information can be invaluable to investigators as it can reveal the details of the alleged crime. Police will also want to obtain every record they possibly can in regards to the investigation. This can mean gathering as much evidence as possible, including:
- Phone records (calls and texts)
- Recent purchases
- Emails exchanged between the two parties
- The victim’s statement
- Witness statements
- Photos of the scene
- Bodily fluids found on the victim or at the scene
- Fibers on the victim or at the scene
- Possible weapons at the scene
- Fragments from broken glass
- The presence of a sexually transmitted disease/infection
- Electronic devices
This evidence-gathering phase of a sex crime investigation can be embarrassing to those accused because it may also involve pulling records from employer databases. This can potentially lead to conflicts with the defendant’s employer, who may be uncomfortable to learn that their employee is under investigation for a sex crime.
The home of the accused may even be searched if there is reason for police to suspect they can find evidence there. This can be done without a warrant if the accused lives with another person who lets the police in. If the accused lives alone, the police would have to obtain a search warrant before they could search the home. Either case can lead to public ridicule as neighbors observe the police presence at the home of the accused.
What To Do If You’re Being Investigated For a Sex Crime
Once a sex crimes criminal complaint has been filed against you or a loved one, it’s important to take a number of steps in order to pave the way for an effective defense.
1. Politely, but firmly, decline to speak with police and authorities
The first thing to remember is that talking to law enforcement or submitting to an interrogation can be extremely detrimental. People commonly make the mistake of answering police questions without their attorney present out of fear that refusing to answer or asking for their lawyer will make them seem guilty. On the contrary, any statements collected by police officers and investigators can be twisted to fit their needs, which is why it’s vital to have your attorney who actually has your best interests at heart.
2. Don’t talk about your case with anyone
Defendants charged with sex crimes should also refrain from talking to third parties about the investigation. Criminal informants can be anywhere these days; they can be undercover officers in a lockup detention facility, coworkers, classmates, or even the accuser themselves. Defendants must stay silent at all times, especially when they talk on the phone, communicate via email or post on social media. If you’re under investigation for a sex crime, the only person you should talk to about your case is your defense attorney.
3. Contact a sex crime defense attorney immediately
Attorneys who specialize in representing clients who have been accused of sex crimes tend to act very quickly once an investigation is launched, and defendants must do the same with regard to retaining counsel. Needless to say, this should happen immediately after an arrest. In the absence of an arrest, defendants should retain counsel as soon as they are aware that they are being investigated. Remember: the clock is ticking.
Defending Against a Sex Crime Investigation
If you’re accused of a sex crime in Texas, the first thing you should know is that the police are NOT there to help you. Take great care when speaking to police, and you should enlist the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. You also should not speak with the person who accused you of the crime. This may only compound problems if the accuser takes the words said as an admission of guilt or involvement.
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Get Immediate Help From a Sex Crime Investigation Lawyer
For many years, The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp has helped those falsely accused of sex crimes in the Houston area take back their lives and protect their legal rights from being infringed upon during a police investigation. Give us a call today to learn how we can help represent you during a sex crime investigation. In past cases, we’ve even been able to prevent charges from being filed.