Your Right to Counsel is Protected by the Constitution

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Pop quiz: If suspected of committing a crime such as sexual assault, when should you talk to an attorney, before or after interrogation? Some people charged with a crime think they know the answer to this question, but sadly, many find out too late that they did not.

Police officers are required to advise you of your Constitutional “right to counsel” (Mirandized) before they start questioning you after an arrest. If you state at any time during the process that you want to exercise your right to counsel, the interrogation must stop and you will be permitted to talk to your attorney. If you do not ask to speak to an attorney, the interrogation will continue and anything you say can be used against you during a trial, if any.

There are some crimes that carry with them such a stigma that once accused, the taint sticks whether the accusation can be proven or not, such is the accusation of “sexual assault.” Notwithstanding the fact that there are many actual, provable cases of criminal sexual assault, for instance, the case where the Rabbi admitted sexually assaulting a young boy who was member of his synagogue (see DNAinfo.com), there are far too many where the accusation, without more, becomes the basis for the conviction.

Sexual Assault Allegations: Accuser v. Accused

Sexual assault is a very serious accusation in all jurisdictions. It is a charge that, if you are found guilty, will alter your life, permanently. Depending on the circumstances and the accusation, you could face a long prison term and a hefty fine and will be required to register as a sex offender, thereby, being branded for life as a sexual predator.

Recently, there was a case of a Highland Park chiropractor who was accused by multiple patients who were treated at his office of sexual assault. In his defense he stated that he never did anything out of the ordinary in his practice, and that his touching of his patients during treatment was within the realm of a chiropractic physician. Without any physical evidence of an assault, could this be a case of perception? All too often these cases, become a matter of “he said, she said,” and the accused ends up being put in the position of proving that he is “not guilty,” instead of the other way around. See the Chicago Tribune article on a similar situation.

The Accusation That Needs No Evidence to Be Believed

Right now there is an ongoing scandal involving a famous individual being accused of multiple cases of sexual assault. Everyone has heard of the Bill Cosby scandal, wherein some of the accusations stem from alleged criminal sexual assaults dating back as far as 1965 (50 years ago) and the latest, 2008 (7 years ago). Of course, the Statute of Limitations will have expired on the very old accusations, but they will hang over Cosby’s head for the rest of his life.

We may never know if there is any merit to any of these accusations because the accusers waited too long to make their cases. With that said, Cosby has been tried and convicted in the Court of Public Opinion. He has been found “guilty” in light of all the media coverage, and his sentence has been the forfeiture of his reputation.

If accused of a crime, it is important that you know what your rights are and how to protect them. If the police are going to interrogate you, then you have the right to have your attorney present. Knowing your rights is the first step in the process, so if you are being charged with a sexual assault or battery and would like to discuss all of the potential defenses available to you, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the David Freidberg Law Office today, at (312) 560-7100, or send an email to schedule a no-obligation consultation.