We often sit down with clients who call us in a panic because they have been contacted by a detective or police officer regarding an allegation or investigation for some type of sex crime. It is often the case that the client may have an inkling of what is going on. Other times, though, they're completely in the dark. But they're all wondering the same thing: what can I do to save myself?
Sex crime allegations and investigations are tricky to navigate -- one wrong step can end in a charge and conviction that will change your life as you know it. At the same time, taking the right steps and precautions can sometimes stop an investigation in its tracks and allow you to move forward with your life.
Regardless of the circumstances, if you find yourself the subject of a sex crime investigation, our advice is the same: Don't talk to the police without first taking all possible steps to protect yourself and your legal interests. That's the first step. As for how? We'll cover that below.
What You Need to Know About Sex Crime Investigations in Illinois and DuPage County
Receiving the news that you are under investigation or being charged with a sex crime can often make the world stop spinning. You might freeze and panic, not sure what your options are. Sex crimes are treated very seriously, both by Illinois courts and by society, so you might feel as if your life has ended the moment you first hear about a case against you.
However, that is not the case. You have options. Below, we have outlined three key pieces of information you should be aware of, if you have been accused or charged with a sex crime.
1. Consequences of a Sex Crimes Conviction Can Last a Lifetime
The first thing you need to know about being involved in a sex crime investigation is that from the moment allegations are brought forth and you become subject to an investigation, your life as you know it hangs in the balance. A charge or conviction can bring consequences that will change your life in countless ways.
From the possession of child pornography to predatory criminal sexual assault, sex crime allegations can have serious lifelong consequences. Not only are there severe criminal penalties ranging from prison time to mandatory Illinois sex offender registration, but also countless social stigmas surrounding sex crimes which can follow you for the rest of your life. Because of the seriousness of any sex crime allegation, you might feel the urge to defend yourself if you are being investigated for a sex crime. In fact, it's a very human tendency to want to explain yourself to the detective or try to talk your way out of the charges.
In our considerable experience, though, this is rarely a good idea. That brings up to our next point.
2. Law Enforcement is Not Your Friend in a Sex Crimes Investigation
The truth is, detectives are not looking to help you out or listen to your side of the story. Their prime objective is to build a strong case against you and charge you with a sex crime. You can be sure that during any interaction you have with law enforcement, they will be constantly on the lookout for evidence to use against you.
Oftentimes, when detectives approach you, they already have some evidence stacked against you. It doesn't matter if that evidence is accurate or false; they are simply looking to complete the puzzle. And invariably, something you say or do when communicating with law enforcement may end up being that last piece they need.
That is why we always suggest that when speaking with law enforcement, invoking your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The less you have to offer, the better.
3. A Strong Sex Crimes Legal Defense Can Help You
Perhaps more than any other type of crime, a sex crimes accusation or charge is a situation where quality legal representation is next to essential. Whether you are choosing to minimize contact with a detective or already involved in a case, the main job of a sex crimes defense attorneys is to act as a buffer between you and law enforcement and advocate for you in every way.
In those few rare cases when it can be beneficial to speak with a detective, it's especially important that you take every precaution possible and consult an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer. Your lawyer can vet what you are saying and act as a protective barrier between you and law enforcement. Oftentimes, you won't know what small piece of information or phrasing will be that last puzzle piece the detective needs to solidify their case against you. A defense lawyer, on the other hand, has experience with criminal investigations and can help you avoid mistakes that will incriminate yourself.
As experienced Illinois defense lawyers who have defended many clients from sex crimes accusations in the DuPage and Cook County area, we prefer a proactive approach when it comes to sex crimes accusations or charges. Often, we elect to open a line of communication with the investigating detective on behalf of our client and try to head off charges being filed. In some instances, we are successful. That means, the case is dropped or some other form of resolution is reached, which is fantastic. In other, more complicated cases where the case is charged and brought to court, we strategically work to ensure that the information we conveyed is not admissible against the client in court, so we can stack all possible odds in our client's favor.
Bottom line is, it is very rarely a good idea to talk to police or detectives when you are contacted by them, and it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney. From the moment you first suspect you are the subject of a sex crimes accusation, the smart action is to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can have your back and look out for your interests. If a police officer or detective accosts you before you are able to hire a good lawyer, then clearly and firmly invoke your rights to remain silent and your right to have a lawyer present. Then, elect to remain silent.
Facing a Sex Crime Investigation in DuPage County or Cook County? Contact Illinois Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys Today
A serious charge or allegation may seem like the end of the world. We're here to tell you that a lot can still be done to help you. But please, start by helping yourself. Use your rights to your advantage. Invoke your right to remain silent, politely and firmly, to avoid incriminating yourself. Then, take advantage of your right to an attorney; give us a call.
With decades of experience in defending clients from sex crimes allegations, we know what it takes to protect our clients as they face one of the most serious and life-damaging charges that can be leveled against a person. If you are facing a sex crimes accusation or charge, you don't need us to tell you just how much is at stake. It's important to take every step you can to protect your future. Take that first step today by contacting our office at (630) 261-9098 to schedule your free legal consultation. We are here to help.