Our Approach to Sex Crimes Cases in Virginia

The following is taken from an interview with Virginia sex crimes lawyer Steve Duckett as he discusses the most effective way to build a defense for a sex crimes case. If you have been accused or charged with a sexual offense call today and schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

One of the first things I look for is what kind of evidence the government is going to have against my client. Do they have forensic evidence or do they have eye witness testimony apart from the complaining witness?

The types of evidence that they have and the nature of that evidence is critical to how we are going to proceed because if what is being alleged was perhaps witnessed by another person or overheard by another person that changes the face of it because that adds another dimension of proof to the government’s case. In many of these cases it is simply he said, she said — so if that’s the case then we need to look at why this person is saying what they’re saying or is there some other ulterior motive that’s leading to these allegations.

How Do You Build The Defense Strategy To Sex Offense Cases?

Every strategy is different for each case and is tailored specifically for the type of evidence that the government seeks to admit. If there is forensic evidence then we need to have a good hard look at that and we need to have our own expert look at it to determine whether or not it is valid and was preserved adequately. We also need to determine whether or not there is a chain of custody that is correct. There are many different ways to holding forensic evidence some of which require a forensic expert alone, some of which require a good lawyer to make sure all of the I’s are dotted and all of the T’s were crossed. So that is in the case of forensic evidence.

If there’s simply testimonial evidence meaning a he-said, she-said situation then we need to look at what possible motives the person might have to be telling that story if in fact, that story is untrue. We need to let that be aired out at trial. A trial is all about finding the truth and if a person has a grudge or a motive to lie about a defendant, that needs to be aired in court and the only way that could be done is through solid investigation. We need to ask the right questions or hire a private investigator to look into that person just to see if any grudges he or she might have talked about with other people. There is really no shortage of ways that we can try to do this. This isn’t to mean that we’re putting the victim on trial as would many people categorize it. That is not really what this is. What it is trying to get to the truth by trying to really figure out what exactly it is that happened and why this person is telling a falsehood about my client.

Constitutional Issues in Sex Crimes Cases

The most prevalent constitutional issues that come up in sex crime cases are issues pertaining to the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. The government will try to talk to people who are thought to be involved in a case. If those conversations take place under the circumstances of custodial interrogation, that person has the right to be advised of their rights under the Fifth Amendment, which are the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If that person is not correctly advised of their rights or did not properly waive those rights before giving a statement, then that evidence need to be challenged by the attorney and ought to be excluded from the government’s casing sheet. An experienced defense attorney understands how to go about identifying these constitutional issues and protecting clients from being harmed by evidence that was collected in violation of their constitutional rights.

Why Do Clients Choose To Work With You In Sex Crimes Cases?

I think that the main thing that attracts clients to my office is my experience level in cases like this. I’ve had cases that involve sex offenses for almost 18 years now. I know the ins and outs of the system and I know how these things work within the system. I talk to potential clients very honestly about what it is they are up against, what I think the government needs to prove, and how I think we can try to prevent them from doing so. I think when they leave my office they have a really good idea of what their situation is and what kind of case they have. I think they appreciate that experience and they appreciate that honesty.