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If I have been contacted by a police agency about a possible investigation, where I may be a suspect, should I provide them with a statement?

Generally, the answer is no. You should not provide a statement to the police without having a lawyer present. The police detective may even tell you they just want to chat, and are not requesting a formal statement. Under no circumstances should you engage in a conversation about what may or may not have happened. Anything you say can and will be used against you. Moreover, while you think you may be helping yourself, what you say may be misconstrued or misinterpreted and used as evidence for the prosecution. If you feel you may be under investigation, the best thing to do is contact the attorneys at WILL & WILL, LLP to conduct a pre-filing investigation into any potential charges against you.

What happens if a sex crimes case is filed against me?

The first step in any criminal prosecution is the arraignment. At the arraignment, your WILL & WILL, LLP defense attorney will enter a plea of not guilty on your behalf and receive both a copy of the complaint (charging document) and the discovery packet (police report and any other relevant evidence). We will then set a date for a pretrial conference (if your case is a misdemeanor) or a pre-preliminary hearing conference (if your case is a felony). We will then spend time reviewing the reports and conducting investigations of our own, if necessary. If there are any viable issues for motion, we will file those with the courts. At the next hearing date, we will have an opportunity to discuss the facts and merits of your case with a deputy district attorney in the hopes of furthering a negotiation of your case. If we have additional, or new, evidence to present the District Attorney’s office with, this is the time we would do it.

In misdemeanor cases, it is often the case that we have several pre-trial conferences to negotiate your case with the D.A.’s. Generally, with misdemeanor sex crimes cases, our attorneys are successful at either getting the case dismissed, or negotiating a favorable plea for our client. On occasion, we cannot come to an agreement with the D.A.’s office. In these cases, we may be interested in pursuing a trial.

In felony cases, as with misdemeanors, we are also often very successful at either getting a case dismissed, reduced to a misdemeanor, or in negotiating a favorable plea for our client. If this is not accomplished during the pre-preliminary hearing stages, then we move on to the preliminary hearing. This is an evidentiary hearing where the prosecution presents a summarized version of their case before a judge in an attempt to have the accused held over to answer at trial for the alleged crimes. The rules of evidence are much more lax at a preliminary hearing than at a trial, as is the standard used to determine whether someone should be held to answer. The result can be one of three things: (1) not held to answer (where there isn’t enough evidence and the case against you is dismissed); (2) 17(b) or reduction of charges against you down to a misdemeanor; or (3) held to answer. If the second happens, and any or all charges against you are reduced, we proceed as explained with regard to misdemeanors above. If the third occurs, then we move from municipal to superior court and in the direction of a trial. However, we will also be able to have pretrial conferences, again, to attempt to facilitate negotiations and reach a common disposition. The last possible step in a felony case, would be trial.

What is the punishment for violating a sex crime law?

Punishments for sex crimes vary by type and level of charge. A misdemeanor sex crime conviction can be punished by up to1 year in county jail and fines of up to $1000.00. A conviction can also include mandatory counseling, AIDS testing, community service, and probation. A felony sex crime conviction can result in a sentence of probation with up to 1 year of county jail, or, if probation is not granted, various state prison sentences. Some sex crimes, such as violent sexual assaults, are "three strikes" offenses and a third strike can result in a state prison sentence of 25 years to life. Furthermore, a conviction for some sex crimes will result in lifetime registration as a sex offender or sexual predator and public disclosure. The harshness of punishment can also be affected by other factors such as prior criminal history for similar offenses, any other prior convictions, whether you are in violation of a previous probation or parole, any media attention to the case, or other mitigating or aggravating circumstances.

What does it mean to be a registered sex offender?

For over half a century, California has required violent and dangerous sex offenders to register with their local law enforcement agencies. However, this information was not available to the public until the passage of “Megan's Law” in 1996. Megan's Law came about as a result of 7-year-old Megan Kanka being raped and murdered by a known child molester who had moved in across the street from her home. At the time Megan became a victim, residents did not have access to information regarding sex offenders residing, or moving into, their neighborhood. In the wake of the tragedy there was a wide spread movement that resulted in legislation requiring law enforcement to notify and provide warning to local communities about dangerous sex offenders in the area. A person required to register yearly as a sex offender will do so for the rest of their lives. The sex offender’s name will be available to the public and they will have to report their location to law enforcement every time they move. Not all sex crimes require registration, but many do. If you are charged with a sex crime ask our sex crime lawyers if a conviction will require you to submit to lifetime registration.

Can a sex crime conviction be expunged from my record?

The answer is: in some cases. Depending on the sex crime you were convicted of, it may be possible to get an expungement which results in your conviction being dismissed and/or having your guilty plea set aside. This can aid greatly in getting a persons life back on track. If you have successfully completed the terms of your probation and/or parole, and want to find out if your conviction can be expunged, contact the experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at WILL & WILL, LLP for a free consultation.

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