If you are charged with a sex crime in Fort Walton Beach, Destin or elsewhere in Okaloosa County or Walton County, or believe that you are a suspect in a police investigation regarding a sex related allegation, what should you do?
Here’s the guideline for you or your family member to follow if they have been arrested on a sex crime charge.
Hire an attorney. One that specializes in criminal defense, one that has experienced success in dealing with clients charged with sex crimes. There are only a handful of attorneys in this area that can handle this type of charge, and I have represented many individuals charged with sex related offenses and have the legal, technical, and procedural experience to fight any case.
Do not speak with anyone about the potential charges. This includes family, friends, and especially law enforcement.
Any statement you make to anyone could potentially be admissible in court. You may think it is all hearsay, but the Florida Evidence Code is extremely lax when it comes to allowing previous out-of-court statements made by defendant to be presented at a jury trial. Under the category of “admissions” and “statements against interest,” the prosecutors will try to establish elements of the crime by presenting circumstantial evidence of place and time of the offense.
Even seemingly innocuous statements can find their way into a police report and be twisted into something damaging. The best course of action is to lawyer up and DO NOT TALK TO ANYBODY. And have your attorney on 24 hour standby in case you are accosted by law enforcement.
Law officers and investigators are trained to get you to talk and answer their questions. They will make you feel like you can help your case if you give a statement. This tactic is obviously coercive in nature, but the courts will allow your statement to be admissible even if you have not been read your Miranda Warnings (also called Miranda Rights). This is because Miranda only applies to “custodial interrogations” which experienced investigators try to avoid because they want a suspect to have their guard down, not expecting to ever be actually charged with a sex crime. They will say things like:
- “We are just doing our jobs.”
- “We need a statement from your in order to close our investigation.”
- “Do you know this person?”
- “Well, how do you know them?”
Before you know it, they have established a connection and the “prosecutorial train,” so to speak, has left the station….and an arrest warrant is coming your way.
Let your attorney be the one to directly deal with police and prosecutors while you stay protected.
If you do not make any statements, your silence is not admissible in court. The prosecutors and their witnesses cannot talk about the fact that you have refused to speak or otherwise cooperate with law enforcement officials. And by not making any statement, they cannot misconstrue what you said into some type of confession or any admission.
And the truth is, without a “confessional” statement, sex crimes routinely lack the weight of evidence that would be needed to reach the required evidentiary standard of proof in a criminal case: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Without any statements or physical evidence, their case is distilled down to a pure accusation, nothing more. These are cases that can be won at trial with a not guilty verdict.
Every case and every trial requires: Planning, Strategy, and Preparation.
Being aggressive is only part of the equation. Being smart, calculating, and strategically aggressive is how to win cases. I have seen many attorneys who just try to bulldog their way through a trial and rarely do they have success, let alone present themselves or their clients as likeable to a jury, which is obviously extremely important in a sex case.
Additionally, your attorney must also be able to reasonably anticipate everything that could happen during the course of the trial. From pretrial issues, to opening statements, to examining and cross-examining witnesses, to objections and potential motions and arguments that could shape the course and outcome of the trial itself; these are the technical parts of practicing criminal law and criminal procedure that most criminal defense lawyers are not very good at.
Fortunately, as an attorney for over 10 years and having handled thousands of felony cases, including many sex related criminal cases, I know what to do and how to do it. I fight tough but smart, and never stop because I want every client to have the best possible result in their case. I take pride in how I go to battle for my clients and I have a reputation of being a hard worker and excellent case strategist. Sex cases are not easy and many attorneys shy away from them. I, on the other hand, do not. What I see is an opportunity – to help someone in a very bad situation.
Let my knowledge and experience work for you. Call Shawn Lupella today for a free consultation to discuss your case. I have offices in Fort Walton Beach (850) 362-6655 and Destin (850) 424-5240.