How Should I Respond if I am Accused of Sexual Assault?

It may seem as if the cards are stacked against you when you have been accused of sexual assault. And unfortunately, people tend to assume that you are guilty of these claims before you are given a chance to defend yourself. It's important to remember that you are innocent until proven guilty despite how your peers, school staff, and authorities may act towards you. And that your actions from here on out will continue to shape how you are perceived by not only your counterparts but school administrators who have the ability to convict you.

If you have been accused of sexual assault, here is a list of “Do's” and “Don't” that you should abide by to maximize your chances of a favorable outcome:

Do's

Talk to Someone You Can Trust

Facing allegations of sexual assault can take a massive emotional and psychological toll on the accused, especially when said claims are false. Since this offense is remarkably stigmatized, respondents may notice that counterparts, school staff other individuals who have caught wind of the entire debacle begin to act as if they are guilty before a hearing has ensued. When this occurs, it's common for respondents to feel overwhelmed and defeated in the midst of these allegations. Which in turn, could lead the accused to either admit to a crime he or she didn't commit or fail to take the proper steps to ensure that his or her rights are protected.

In some cases, it may be necessary to vent to a person who you know you can trust, whether it be a friend, your parents or a counselor. The context of the conversation doesn't necessarily have to include what occurred between you and an accuser. Merely hashing out the many emotions associated with being accused of this offense, however, may help you cope.

Seek Legal Counsel

Although you can go through the school's processes by yourself, you shouldn't have to. Access to a skilled attorney is a constitutional right that you should take advantage of. Every conversation that is had between attorneys and clients are protected under an attorney-client privilege, which preserves confidentiality during communication. Consulting with an experienced attorney who has successfully taken on cases similar to yours can exponentially increase your chances of a favorable outcome. Working with a lawyer who has helpful advice, resources, and knowledge of the law may make all the difference in your case.

Dont's

Don't talk to the Alleged Victim

If you have been accused of sexual assault, the U.S. Department of Education has a mandate requiring that respondents are issued with a no-contact order. This legal document contains restrictions imposed against accusers in an effort to separate both parties for the duration of the school's investigation and processes. Violating this order and proceeding to contact, or attempt to contact an accuser anyway can easily be perceived as an act of retaliation.

Don't Tamper with Witnesses

Do not document what witnesses say inaccurately

You could do this unintentionally, however, it will not be perceived that way. When there are inconsistencies between what a witness has said and what you claim that he or she said, school authorities may think that you're modifying a story for your benefit or that that witness' testimony is dubious.

Do not threaten or intimidate witnesses

It is never a good idea to intimidate or threaten a witness in any form or fashion. It's understandable for you to be frustrated with the current circumstances, however, these actions often backfire and can sabotage your case.

Don't tell people what to say in the event that they are interviewed

All that you can do in this situation is let a witness say what he or she has planned to say. As mentioned above, any discovered intrusions from you, as the accused, may cause school authorities to become skeptical of your account of events.

Experienced Defense Attorney

If you are facing allegations of sexual assault, you should immediately consult with an experienced attorney. You don't have to go through these stressful school processes alone. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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