Selecting the Proper Attorney In False Allegation Cases
If you suddenly find yourself crippled with a heart attack, an event that could quickly and easily end your life, do you run to a general practice medical doctor or to a cardiologist; a specialist in the treatment of heart related problems? If your life is really important to you, obviously, you look for the best.
The consequences of a life threatening heart attack are no less serious than being confronted with a false allegation of child sexual abuse and, as a result, you look for the "cardiologist," or "specialist" of law and not the general practitioner.
If you have been falsely accused of abuse, by far, one of the most important decisions you will be faced with is the selection of the proper attorney to represent you, a task that may seem easy, but in reality can prove to be very difficult. The individual you select will, for all practical purposes, have your entire life and future in the palm of their hands. The question becomes, "What will they do with it?"
There are hundreds of innocent people in prison today, convicted of child sexual battery and in each case, each of them had an attorney. In most of those cases, simply because they did have an attorney, the accused never even considered that they could possibly be found guilty, especially of something they never did. What a wake up call when they listened to the jury verdict.
The real key to winning these cases is to educate yourself so that you have a thorough knowledge of what is taking place in your defense and to obtain whatever evidence is necessary to prove your innocence well prior to any trial.
A thorough knowledge means a thorough understanding of what the attorney should do and is doing to build a proper defense and that is certainly one of our areas of expertise. When we are retained, we constantly monitor everyone on the defense team, including the attorney, to assure that a proper defense is prepared and report any and all short comings directly to the client.
When attempting to retain an attorney, consider the following carefully:
- Assure that you retain an expert, or an attorney who will associate an expert in handling false abuse allegation cases. There really are very few true "experts" in the field of false allegations of abuse, but they do exist.
- Locate an attorney either through recommendation or by contacting your local Bar Referral Service for a list of attorneys in your area who are experienced in these matters.
- You can retain counsel out of your area, if that is your desire, but again, assure that the attorney has experience in these matters and understand that an attorney who is not familiar with the local courts and politics may already have a strike against them.
- Do not retain any lawyer without first checking their Curriculum Vitae (CV) and do not be afraid to question your attorney or his competence. This is your life you are talking about. I have seen clients who stood by, watching their attorney do nothing, but were to afraid to confront them because they "did not want to make the lawyer mad." Let me assure you, that attorney's life will continue on well after your conviction.
- In many cases, false allegations prevail against the innocent because their attorney failed to provide effective counsel. The public hysteria regarding the sexual abuse of children needs to be recognized and effectively addressed. This reality places upon your attorney a "special" burden of proof that addresses the dynamics of the emotional issues.
- Your attorney must be an effective case manager, able to initiate appropriate discovery activities, able to identify and preserve the critical "chain of evidence", and able to manage the available financial resources effectively.
- Your attorney must be ever-mindful of the importance of the expert testimony. He or she must be skilled at identifying and using the appropriate research to organize effective cross-examination and to present effective and compelling testimony to support the falsely accused client.
- If your attorney is not fully prepared to "prove" your "innocence" you will probably be found "guilty."
- It is vital that your attorney "convince" a court that it is not putting a child molester back on the street.
- Your attorney should understand that the side with the best expert testimony will prevail, regardless of the "truth" or the evidence that supports it.
- The attorney who does not use all of the discovery allowed before trial is like the pilot attempting to fly at night with no instruments.
- Your attorney should be fully prepared with defense experts and be able to effectively cross-examine the State's experts.
- Your attorney should know that when cross-examining an adverse expert, the only safe question to ask is one that your expert will answer to your benefit.
- The expert who is able to explain complicated concepts with simple language will prevail over the expert with an impressive pedigree and a complicated manner.
- Your attorney should have exact details of who has "interviewed" or "counseled" a child witness because that is a "chain of evidence" that can free or shackle the falsely accused.
- If your case does go to trial, make sure your lawyer is very effective at voir dire (jury questioning).
- Your attorney should attempt to suppress all further therapies with the alleged child victim. The State will normally have a State appointed psychologist who will continue interviewing the child prior to trial to assure that the State's case stays solid. Repeated interviews by the State's psychologist can be harmful because they can actually "educate" a child in "firming" up the allegation.
- Your attorney should consider filing motions in limine to stop any prospective unscientific evidence from being used against you in court. This simply means that the State appointed psychologist cannot testify to any expert opinion that is not based strictly on scientific foundation; ie, Daubert. Their personal opinion should not hold water.
- If your attorney is not able to interview the State appointed psychologist, or to obtain through subpoena, their notes, records, reports or copies of the audio/video tapes of their interviews with the "alleged" victim, conduct a pretrial hearing to determine specifically what their testimony will be and assure that nothing reaches the jury in the form of an expert opinion that is not based strictly on scientific foundation. This is also a good manner to argue if the psychologist used anatomically "correct" dolls or other questionable techniques.
- If you have been arrested and charged, hopefully, you will be released on bail. Either in or out of jail, monitor the progress of your attorney.
- Assure that your attorney is assisted by an expert trial consultant and/or private investigator. Someone needs to put the case together properly for the attorney and if the attorney you are talking to tells you they can do it all, trust me, things will be missed. They will have their work cut out for them doing discovery, handling motions and preparing a trial strategy.