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What Can Happen When Charged with Child Sexual Abuse

When a person is criminally charged with any type child sexual abuse, there are several possibilities that could happen:

The State Could Dismiss the Charges

  • The prosecutor could believe that the accusing child would have no credibility if they testified.
  • The accusing child could recant their allegations.
  • The accusing child could refuse to testify.
  • The prosecutor could believe they could not get a conviction.
  • The accused showed no signs of deception in a polygraph they were offered by either law enforcement or a prosecutor.
  • The prosecutor accepted a successful psychosexual evaluation from a credible and qualified expert who tested the accused.

The Defense Attorney Could Recommend a Plea

  • After analysis of the discovery provided by the State, the defense attorney may realize that it would be somewhat impossible to convince a jury that the accused was innocent. If the risk of conviction is great, most attorneys do not want to see their client convicted and sent to prison.
  • The accused has prior allegations by other accusers that would come into trial.
  • The accused has other issues that would influence a jury to convict based on anger, hate or prejudice:
    • The accused chatted with underage girls online, sent graphic usenet posts, sent graphic emails to a child and the State has the proof.
    • The accused had internet pornography on their computer and the State is claiming that some depict children.
    • The accused had a past alcohol or drug addiction problem.
    • The accused had a prior arrest, prior plea or prior conviction for a sex related crime.
    • The accused confessed to authorities and that confession would be allowed at trial.
    • The accused has past psychological problems, such as attempted suicides or was committed to psychiatric hospitals.
    • The accused appeared to be middle eastern, appeared to be a thug, appeared to be gay or was a member of a cult-type religion. These are just a few examples and there are many more that could influence a jury based solely on prejudice.
  • The defense attorney is looking for a fast and immediate solution and accepting a plea requires far less time and effort than preparing a defense or taking the case to trial. Unfortunately, if a defense attorney is simply looking for a fast solution and recommends a plea they may not prepare any defense whatsoever, a real problem if the accused pushes to go to trial.

If the Accused Accepts a Plea

  • There is no appeal or post conviction relief when a plea is accepted.
  • It is somewhat impossible to ever have a plea set aside. The accused usually stands before a judge and acknowledges that they were accepting the plea without coercion and that they knew exactly what they were doing.
  • Many times, as part of a plea, the accused cannot be around children, cannot live within so many feet of a school or church, and many soon find that their neighbors "know" they are a child molester.
  • Often the accused is required to complete a sex offender treatment program. As a part of that program, they are required to admit guilt. If they refuse, they are seen as being in denial, they would not have successfully completed the program and because of that, they would have violated the terms of their probation and could be sent to prison.

If the Accused Goes to Trial

  • The accused is acquitted.
  • The accused is convicted.
    • If convicted, the accused could face anything from probation to life in prison without possibility of parole, depending on the state they are in and the charges they were convicted of.
    • If guilty, and they are sentenced, post conviction relief would normally begin and, even if their conviction was reversed, they would probably have been in prison for about 2 years and, even in the event it was reversed, they would go right back to trial, as if they had never gone through it, and they would face a possible second conviction and sentence. Obviously, if all post conviction fails, the sentence would be served.
  • The accused decides to accept a plea after the accusing child testifies or the State has presented it's case. Obviously, many times the State will not offer any plea once the trial begins, but it has happened.

The Threat of a Civil Lawsuit

  • Rarely is this issue ever brought up or discussed, but it is a very real threat and a very real possibility. As an example, consider O.J. Simpson. He was acquitted of all criminal charges, but then found guilty in a civil trial.