What you need to know when facing a sex crime investigation in Texas
If you have been charged with a sex crime in Texas, you have basic rights that police, prosecutors and judges aren’t suppossed to violate. As a general rule, you must be notified of these rights before you are taken into custody. Failure to do so could result in evidence being thrown out or your entire case being dismissed.
Let’s take a look at what these rights are and how they could influence the outcome of your case.
You have the right to remain silent.
There is no obligation to talk to a police officer, investigator or anyone else as your case plays out. This means that you are not required to answer questions in court or testify in your defense. The right to not incriminate yourself is outlined by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.
Can the authorities lie to me?
Police and other investigators have significant leeway as it relates to what they can tell you during a legal matter. In some cases, they may try to convince you that evidence connecting you to a crime exists, even if it doesn’t. Prosecutors may try to convince you that confessing to the crime would result in a lenient sentence. This could be the case even if the prosecutor has no intention of offering a favorable deal in exchange for your cooperation.
Do I have to provide a DNA sample?
In sex crime cases, it may be easier for authorities to prove that a defendant is guilty through the use of DNA evidence. Of course, if your DNA isn’t on file, they won’t be able to match it with saliva, hair or other fluids found at the scene. In Texas, you are generally required to provide a DNA sample in cases involving alleged sexual abuse of a child.
The same may be true if a person is charged with a felony sex crime. Anyone who is convicted of a felony is generally required to provide a DNA sample as a condition of their release from custody. This requirement may be waived if a sentence is deferred or sealed for any reason.
You have the right to an attorney.
If you are charged with a crime that could result in jail time, you are guaranteed the right to competent legal counsel. In the event that you can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed to help in your case. However, you may need to show that you can’t afford legal counsel before being granted access to a public defender.
While public defenders are given to every defendant as a right, these defenders are often swamped with a massive case load. For this reason, we highly recommend you hire a private defense attorney who will have the time and resources to fully commit to your defense.
You can represent yourself, if you choose.
Anyone who is charged with a sex crime has the right to confront their accuser in court. Therefore, this means that you could be given the ability to directly question the person who has accused you of sexual harassment, sexual assault or rape.
However, it should be noted that a judge may require you to have an attorney to help guide you through the process of questioning witnesses or taking other actions in court. This is intended to minimize the chance for an appeal or minimize the chances of significant delays because of your lack of legal knowledge.
You have the right to change counsel during a case.
If you believe that your attorney isn’t acting in your best interest at any point during the legal process, you have the right to request another public defender or hire another attorney. Generally speaking, a judge must postpone a trial or other proceedings until your new attorney can get a good handle on the facts in the case.
You can request that a case be moved.
Depending on how much coverage your case receives, it may be possible to ask that it be moved to another venue. This may make it more likely that potential jurors have not already made up their minds about the matter. However, whether a request to move a case is granted depends on whether a judge thinks that a local jury can truly be impartial.
Regardless of how old an alleged victim is, being accused of a sex crime can have a significant impact on your personal and professional life. The good news is that you still have an opportunity to defend yourself against this allegation before being convicted. With the help of qualified legal counsel, it may be possible to ensure that your rights are protected and that you obtain a favorable outcome in your case.