False Allegations of Sexual Abuse By Children and Adolescents – Does It Really Happen?
Unfortunately, false allegations of sexual abuse from children and adolescents do happen. Unlike when an adult accuses a person of sexual abuse on their own accord, allegations of sexual abuse from children often stem from pressure by other adults. While there are instances these allegations are true, in other cases, these allegations are used as a way to gain an upper hand in a child custody dispute, revenge in a divorce settlement, or may stem from just a child acting out.
Whether you know the allegations are false or not, it is critical that you hire a defense attorney. Prosecutors do not take allegations of sexual abuse against a minor lightly, and they will work to seek the maximum sentence allowed by law. Therefore, you need an advocate there to protect your rights and prove your innocence. While the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, sometimes just the adolescent’s testimony on the stand is all it takes for a jury to convict you of something you didn’t do.
Why False Allegations Happen
A false allegation occurs for a variety of reasons. Some common situations where a person could be falsely accused of sexual abuse by a child or adolescent include:
- One parent trying to gain an upper hand in a child custody dispute. You may be going through a divorce, and with that comes the custody battle over your minor children. Sadly, the most common reason for a false allegation of sexual abuse comes from when one parent convinces the child to accuse their other parent of sexual abuse in order to get full custody.
- An instance of teenage rebellion. Teens go through rebellious phases, and one way to lash out at parents is to accuse one of them of sexual abuse. At this age, a teenager doesn’t understand the ramifications of his or her accusations, and sometimes they do it to get something from their parents. Other times, they accuse a parent’s romantic partner as a way to rebel against them dating someone else.
- A child trying to avoid getting in trouble for something else. A child may accuse an adult, whether it is a parent, relative, teacher, or family friend, of sexual abuse to direct attention away from something that they did where they would get in trouble.
The Two Driving Factors in a False Allegation
While these allegations occur in numerous situations, there are two driving forces behind false allegations that make their way into a courtroom. These include:
Dysfunctional Family Situations
A child will accuse a family member of sexual abuse, or a parent will accuse another family member of sexual abuse, when the family is facing a point of crisis – such as a divorce, dispute, etc. Any time the family dynamic is disrupted and there is a crisis, there is a higher risk for false allegations of sexual abuse. It is not just parents who can be falsely accused either – distant relatives, adult siblings, romantic partners, and even family friends may be accused of something that they didn’t do.
Poor Police Investigations
Often, law enforcement acts quickly on these types of allegations because it is their job to protect the child from the abuse again. However, they are still required to perform their due diligence and investigate. Unfortunately, allegations of abuse against a minor draw up numerous emotions that even law enforcement professionals cannot ignore. These can force them to see evidence that points at guilt, rather than look at evidence that might indicate the defendant is innocent.
Defending Yourself against a False Allegation of Sexual Abuse – What Are Your Options?
Once the allegation has been made, law enforcement is required to approach the accused and start an investigation. While the prosecutor will decide whether or not to charge the accused, you could still be arrested while the prosecution looks at the evidence and decides whether there is enough to officially charge you.
More importantly, that arrest will appear on your criminal record, even if you are not officially charged.
Sadly, when the child accuses the adult of sexual abuse, that is often all prosecutors need to move forward – and often all they look for. While they continue to investigate after you are charged, you may find yourself in jail awaiting trial.
It is imperative that you contact a defense attorney immediately if you have been accused of sexual abuse against a child. The laws in New Mexico are very strict. And if you are convicted, even if you did not commit the crime, your life will change permanently. Not only will you have a criminal conviction (which means a prison sentence, fines, and a record), but you will be required to register as a sex offender. You may be unable to find work, family and friends may treat you differently, and your life will never be the same as it was before your conviction.
With a defense attorney, you can work to prove your innocence against these false allegations. An attorney will examine the evidence in order to poke holes in that evidence and create reasonable doubt. They may even be able to present enough evidence to the prosecution to make them drop the charges entirely.
Some methods your attorney will use to help defend you against these false allegations include:
- A psychological and physical examination of the child. Sometimes, a psychological and physical examination of the child by a medical professional is all it takes to prove the allegations are false. A therapist might find that the child was coerced, or a physician may find no evidence that sexual abuse has occurred.
- Examining the police interrogation and investigation. As stated before, officers might push for evidence in their favor. These are things such as using leading questions while getting a statement from the child, failing to seek out exculpatory evidence, and more.
If you have been falsely accused of sexual abuse against a child you know, contact a defense team immediately. Call the attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today by calling our office.
Explore your legal defense options. If you have been falsely accused of sexual abuse against a child, you need a highly skilled attorney. Call us today!