If you are an adult and you have a detective calling you to question your relationship with a child or children – you need to stay quiet and contact an attorney right away. What you may not understand is that a convicted party who is found guilty of sex crimes may easily serve a multitude of years behind bars and perhaps a lifetime of incarceration.
You need an attorney who has worked these cases and has years of experience handling these intricate and sensitive matters. It is critical to hire an experienced attorney who will review the facts and law with neutrality and look to a defense without judging a book upon its cover.
Attorney Sheryl Shane has years of experience with cases involving sex crimes against children. She is familiar with sex crime laws. She has delved into these cases, viewed and examined the many pieces of evidence which tend to prove guilt or demonstrate innocence. She is familiar and has viewed a great number of police interrogations, worked with experts, examined scientific proof, dealt with various types of witnesses, and helped craft arguments to help make sure you are given your constitutional protections throughout the entire process trial process.
GENERALLY, WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
ALLEGATIONS BY A CHILD OR OTHER WITNESS:
There are too many times – when people are contacted by police – and investigated - you may have been telephoned or spoken to in person and asked to come to the police station just for some friendly conversation. no – you are not under arrest. the detective just wants to talk. You agree, and, unfortunately, at some point, you were unwittingly tricked into a making a “bad” statement. Now, you never thought you needed an attorney. But you were wrong. It does not matter whether you are guilty or not. Any verbal or nonverbal communications were probably recorded. A simple “yea” or “no’ at the wrong time or a nodding one’s head the wrong way...could help establish probable cause resulting in an arrest. Now, law enforcement has quite a bit of maneuvers to help them make their case. One should never go to the police station for conversation without consulting with an attorney. The smallest move(s) can build the prosecution’s case. Whether or not you are guilty of a sex crime against children.
ON THE STREET AND IN POLICE CARS:
Now a days, law enforcement usually wear body cameras on the streets and their vehicles are also equipped. Use caution when discussing any matters whether casual or investigatory.
When dealing with sex crimes involving children, law enforcement will often begin conversations with a suspect in a friendly tone. But as the conversation progresses, allegations made by a child or other third-party will creep into the conversation. And then the manipulations begin - “We know what you did”. “It’s not so bad.” There are people out there who do much worse…just admit what you did. “Things will go much lighter for you”!
Next thing you know- you are arrested. Search warrants obtained. You should have hired a great lawyer before speaking to anyone the first minute there was mention of the possibility of a sex crime. You are at a police station because law enforcement thinks you probably had something to do with a crime. This is why you just do not speak with police officers and detectives without first obtaining counsel. A suspect’s statement incriminating himself or herself is one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome in a criminal case. Whether or not the accused’s statement is vague, ambiguous, or taken out of context … One wrong move, whether guilty or not, can ruin your life! An experienced attorney is not cheap. But what is more important - your wallet or the damage which can be caused to the rest of your life.
A good defense requires an attorney who will do the work, research and investigate, learn the facts and apply the law. Someone who will advise properly and let you make the wise choice.
Best Advise - Do not commit sex crimes. But if you do and get caught - you are up for a fight. You better tread lightly and follow an experienced attorney’s advice. Learn your options. Strategize for your future. If you are charged and you claim innocence - you still need to remain cautious and keep your mouth shut. Too many pictures can be painted which are inaccurate. Too many stories may be told which are untrue. But if a jury believes these pictures and/or stories - say good-bye to your current life. You will most likely always be remembered as a sex offender. During incarceration if imposed and afterwards. Familiarize yourself with terms such as “probation” and “sex offender registration”.
CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES (CPS) INTERVIEWS:
There are times when (CPS) is contacted regarding possible child abuse. They take reports and contact a suspect to make a determination as to whether abuse has occurred. Now, after the initial intake, CPS may attempt to keep a case at the administrative level. But one must beware… There are also many instances, where police become involved. It takes just one wrong statement or piece of evidence to change an informal interview into a case involving serious felony charges. We all know that child protective services were established to protect children. But - “in life - mistakes arise”. Take care with how you proceed. Adults also need protection. There are constitutional protections.
SO NOW YOU ARE CHARGED:
ACCUSED CLAIMS: “NOT GUILTY”
Attorney Sheryl Shane knows the criminal process – she has years of experience dealing with the prosecution. She has appeared before judges and juries, and arbitrators since 1994. She knows that false allegations occur and have resulted in charges. She understands that a full investigation and solid presentation is required to build a strong defense. Every person is entitled to obtain fair and just procedures. Attorney Sheryl Shane will use due diligence to help protect those charged with Virginia Criminal Codes:
- Rape – VA. Code Ann. § 18.2-61
- Carnal Knowledge of a Child - VA. Code Ann. § 18.2-63
- Forcible Sodomy - VA. Code Ann. § 18.2-67.1
- Object Sexual Penetration - VA Code Ann. 18.2-67.1
- Sexual Battery and Aggravated Sexual Battery - VA Code Ann. § 18.2-67.3 and
- Sexual Abuse of a Child Under (15) years of age – VA Code Ann. § 18.2-67.4:2
- Indecent Liberties with Children - VA Code Ann. § 18.2-370, § 18.2-370.01
- Penetration of Mouth of Child with Lascivious Intent - VA Code Ann. § 18.2-370.6
- Use of Communication Systems to facilitate Offenses against Children - VA Code Ann. 18.2-374.3
- Possession, Reproduction, Distribution, Solicitation, and Facilitation of Child Pornography VA Code Ann. 18.2-374.1:1.
- Production, Publication, Sale, Financing, etc., of Child Pornography; presumption as to age VA Code § 18.2-374.1.
- Contributing or Encouraging Acts Rendering Children Delinquent, Abused, etc. VA Code Ann. § 18.2-371.
ACCUSED DESIRES A PLEA VERSUS TRIAL:
In cases – after careful review and examination of all the evidence which has been obtained – if it looks as if the prosecution will be able to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that the accused will be found guilty by judge and jury – Attorney Sheryl Shane shall provide options in a clear and concise manner to her client. Attorney Sheryl Shane will neutrally present the case – and make certain the accused understands fully what may or may not be done. Attorney Sheryl Shane will present benefits and hurdles of proceeding to trial versus possible pleas and sentencing. Attorney Sheryl Shane will also review the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines, the possibility of having to register as a sex offender if determined guilty and advise as to options to help mitigate damage. The accused will be well informed prior to making his or her decisions. The defendant shall make the final choice as to whether to proceed to trial or to try and settle.
Everyone deserves fair and just representation. Unfortunately, in sex offense cases, the public is quick to make judgment. You may be presumed guilty with or without sufficient evidence. The mere mention of a sex crime will cause a reasonably well situation person to become distraught. But we the people must carry out what is necessary to protect what the Constitution and what it stands for. A fair and impartial representation at all stages of the proceedings. Again – the accused should not be presumed Guilty based simply upon the type of charge(s) brought against his or her person. Actual guilt must be proven.
WE ALL KNOW THAT THESE TYPE OF CRIMES CREATE PUBLIC OUTCRY
Any judge, juror, expert, or lay witness is going to have to fight to be neutral when dealing with cases involving prohibited sexual contact with children. Cases such as aggravated sexual battery, carnal knowledge of a child, rape, crimes against nature, indecent liberties with minors, forcible sodomy, sexual abuse upon a child under (15) fifteen years of age, child pornography, computer crimes involving children, and underage prostitution create an uproar when heard by the public as it is broadcasted over the news. But let us not judge until guilt is shown. And if guilt is demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt after a fair and impartial trial has occurred...lets’ look at the individual circumstances of the case, the harm caused, the type of sentence one should serve, the possibility of mental health treatment, the future safety of the public, and whether some reparations may be made.
DEFENSE ATTORNEYS HAVE SEVERAL ISSUES WHICH MAY BE ADDRESSED WHEN DEALING WITH SEX CRIMES AGAINST A CHILD
When a child makes a false accusation - the criminal defense attorney needs to look at
a variety of factors involving the competency of the child along with other factors, such as:
- the child’s present age
- the child’s age at the time of the sexual offense(s)
- the child’s intellect, emotional well-being, and mental capacity,
- the relationship between the child, the accuser, and other involved parties
- whether the child has been exposed to child abuse in the past
- past similar allegations
- investigation techniques
- and medical and psychological evaluations
These issues all factor into the child’s ability comprehend and to recall accurately and may address coercion or bias. Process gathering of information should be required to be handled with the utmost care. We do not want to point a guilty finger at the wrong party.
WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT CHILDRENS MINDS ARE NOT FULLY MATURED
Good and Bad Acts
Children do not always accurately perceive that which surrounds them. There may be misunderstandings and misinterpretations regarding that which has actually or has not occurred. For instance, a child may not understand the difference between a “good” or “bad” touch. There may be a situation where a childcare worker touches a child in a private place while trying to clean the child’s bottom. Another child may observe and determine something bad has occurred after being taught earlier about inappropriate touching. There are other scenarios where misinterpretations may occur such as when children are participating in sports and a touching may appear wrongful. A child can be rambunctiously running down a crowded school hall and contact with another may be deemed inappropriate. In any of these scenarios - the competency of the reporting child must be examined. One should not jump to the conclusion that a “bad act” occurred. We need to investigate the entire scenario - with acknowledging that “kids” are our most precious assets; but we also do not want to accuse and destroy an innocent person’s life.
Sex Crime has been committed against a Child
Other instances where the maturity of a young person’s mind comes into play regarding sex crimes is when an actual sex crime against a child has been committed, but the child is unable to face the truth about the identity of the real perpetrator or simply has a faulty memory regarding the crime. In either instance - a wrong person may be accused. We need to be certain that the child(ren) has not been coached to reach the wrong conclusion. Was the interviewer or investigator unbiased, properly trained, and follow strict protocol.
Children have been known to make false allegations against a parent or third party when subjected to divorce actions and/or custody battles. It is all too easy for an adult to manipulate and poison a child’s mind. Perhaps the accused is a bad spouse, and maybe even a bad parent. But we should not just jump the gun and make a determination that a sexual crime has taken place based on mere allegations. A sexual bad act against a child must be proven.
Lastly, anyone can be accused of a sex crime against a child. This includes parents, siblings, extended family members, teachers, coaches, religious figures, or friends. And, although protecting our children is paramount, we must also protect the public - those who can be wrongfully charged. There is no denying that there are children who make false allegations, based on mental and or emotional illness, peer pressure, or a child who just wants to strike out at another. Careful consideration must be taken.
STATEMENTS OF SEXUAL ABUSE UPON A CHILD MADE BY THIRD PARTIES
- Always have your attorney interview the third-party accuser if permissible.
- Have your attorney watch videos of interview(s) if available.
- Investigate possible motives and bias.
- Observe cognitive abilities.
- If able, investigate the witness’s past history.
- Review all relevant evidence.
IN SUMMARY - HOW SHOULD ONE PROCEED IF SUSPECT TO A SEX CRIME AGAINST A CHILD OR CHILDREN
Hire an attorney prior to speaking to anyone. This includes family, friends, schools, mental health professionals, police & detectives, inmates, and anyone else wanting to speak on the subject. You may cooperate, but only after speaking with an experienced attorney.
Locations in The Commonwealth of Virginia:
Arlington Alexandria Annandale Burke Clifton Falls Church Fairfax Fairfax City Vienna Oakton McLean Centreville. Chantilly Springfield Tysons Manassas Warrenton Great Falls Herndon Sterling Stafford Leesburg Middleburg Winchester Woodbridge