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What to Do After Being Charged with Sexual Assault in Indiana

What to Do After Being Charged with Sexual Assault in Indiana

Jared-Michel-Thomas

Of all the offenses defined under Indiana criminal laws, being arrested for sexual assault puts you in one of the most difficult positions of your life. There are numerous provisions under Indiana’s state statute on sex crimes, and all of them are designated as felony offenses. As a result, sexual assault charges will typically include prison time and fines if you are convicted. Plus, offenders will be required to comply with laws on the Sex & Violent Offender Registry, which imposes significant limitations on your freedoms even after you serve your sentence.

Because of these implications, you can expect that your actions in the aftermath of an arrest will be critical. Your situation may seem grim, but it is always important to remember that you do have rights and an arrest is not a conviction. Therefore, one of your first priorities should be contacting a skilled sexual assault lawyer in Evansville who can assist with your defense. It is also crucial to follow a few tips on what to do after being charged with sexual assault in Indiana.

Checklist After an Arrest for Sexual Assault

The circumstances surrounding an arrest can be overwhelming and confusing, which is why consulting with an Indiana criminal defense attorney is at the top of your To-Do list. Some additional tips may also be helpful:

  1. Do NOT make statements to the police. Officers will state your Miranda warnings upon arrest, and you will probably recognize the familiar reading of your rights. Exercise the most important one immediately by remaining silent. Do not answer questions, make statements, or respond to accusations, even to express your innocence.
  2. Never attempt to contact the accuser. You will only do more harm than good by communicating with the person who accused you of sexual assault, regardless of your prior relationship or interactions. The same is true about avoiding contact with the accuser’s family and friends.
  3. Work closely with your sexual assault defense lawyer. Evidence is key in a criminal case, whether you seek to contest the prosecutor’s proof or want to present information related to your defense. Make sure you share all details, paperwork, communications with the accuser, and any other information you think may be relevant. Always remember that your communications are confidential, so be open and honest with your attorney.
  4. Stay off social media. Your posts, comments, tags, photos, and other content can reveal too much about your private life, which you need to keep under wraps when you are defending serious sexual assault charges.
  5. Make the best impression in court. From your very first appearance before a judge, treat the proceedings with professionalism and respect. Dress as if you were attending a job interview, address the judge and all courtroom personnel politely, and follow your attorney’s instructions on how to handle court appearances.

Penalties for a Sexual Assault Conviction

Indiana criminal laws use the term rape to refer to unlawful sexual conduct, making it illegal to have non-consensual sexual contact with someone through the use of force or threats. It is also a crime to engage in these acts without force while the victim is disabled or unconscious. The basic form of sexual assault is a Level 3 Felony punishable by a minimum of three years’ incarceration, though a judge could order up to 16 years in prison.

However, certain aggravating circumstances could lead to Level 1 Felony charges. If convicted of sexual assault and these factors are present, the mandatory minimum prison sentence is 20 years and the maximum is 40 years’ incarceration. Aggravating factors include:

  • Use of deadly force in the commission of the crime.
  • Threats, brandishing, discharging, or other use of a weapon.
  • Serious bodily injury to the victim.
  • Use of date rape drugs in connection with the offense.

Retaining an Evansville Sexual Assault Lawyer is Your Best Defense

The penalties for a conviction provide a very convincing reason to work with experienced legal counsel if you have been arrested. When you have an attorney on your side, you level the playing field versus the experience, skills, and knowledge the prosecutor brings to the case. While you will have to handle the tasks on your list of what to do after an arrest for sexual assault, your lawyer will:

  • Appear at your arraignment to hear the official charges and address issues regarding bail and/or your release pending trial.
  • Raise motions that favor your position, such as motions to dismiss the charges, toss inadmissible evidence, or compel evidence in the prosecutor’s possession.
  • Discuss a plea bargain with the prosecution to reduce the charges or agree on penalties.
  • Conduct discovery, through which you may obtain additional evidence and deposition testimony from the accuser or witnesses.

When your trial date arrives, your attorney’s initial strategy focuses on preventing the government from proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Weak evidence may be insufficient to establish each element of sexual assault, so you could be acquitted. Plus, after the prosecutor rests, you will have the opportunity to present defenses to sexual assault. This could include the consent of the accuser.

Note that Indiana does have a so-called “Romeo and Juliet” law, which is a solid defense in some cases. The statute provides that it is not a crime to engage in consensual sexual activity with a 14 or 15-year-old, but only when the other individual is less than four years older. The law does not provide a defense where there are aggravating factors.

Set up a Consultation with a Sexual Assault Lawyer Evansville Today

Armed with these tips on what to do after being charged with sexual assault in Indiana, you are in a better position to leverage defense options with help from skilled legal counsel.

At Thomas Law, our team is prepared to develop a solid strategy and fight to obtain the most favorable outcome possible. To learn how we can assist, please contact our Evansville, IN office at 812-492-1900 to set up a no-cost, confidential consultation with one of our Indiana sexual assault defense attorneys. After reviewing the details of your case, we can determine how to proceed.

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