Rape is a serious charge that can affect your housing, career, and personal life. The crime, defined under Penal Code 261, can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. 1 The penalties include incarceration, a monetary fine, and court-ordered completion of a rehabilitation program. You will also be required to register as a sex offender. 2
If you have been accused of rape, there are 8 things you should do before rape charges are filed against you:
1. Talk to an attorney
The first thing you need to do is talk to an attorney. The criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully handling rape cases and can determine how to best handle your case. It is important to hire an attorney during pre-filing because an attorney may be able to help you avoid a rape charge.
You should not attempt to represent yourself in a rape case. California has specialized evidence rules for how to treat witnesses, physical evidence, and the victim. Further, if you attempt to talk to law enforcement officers or witnesses yourself before trial, you may come off as aggressive. It is important that you appear harmless and remain as calm as possible before trial.
If the alleged victim is a soon to be ex-spouse or former spouse, he or she may be attempting to use the charge to influence proceedings in a divorce or child custody case against you. In that situation, you need an attorney who is familiar with family and criminal law.
If you are currently on probation, talk to your attorney as to how the rape case could cause you to violate your probation. It is not a good idea for you to take a plea offer if you would then be convicted of another, more serious crime.
Rape is a deportable offense. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you should talk to your attorney about the consequences of taking a plea offer or receiving a conviction.
2. Collect information and provide it to your attorney
You should form a partnership with your attorney, in which you collect valuable evidence for your attorney to review. Information and things that you should bring to your attorney typically include your clothing from the night of the incident, if it has not been washed; a DNA sample; and names, contact information, and details concerning witnesses to the incident or witnesses who can explain that you were not with the alleged victim at the time of the incident.
3. Do not commit any other crimes
The terms of pretrial release for a criminal offense typically require that you not commit another offense, even a misdemeanor, while your case remains unresolved. You should even avoid being charged with an infraction. You want to show the court that you are in control of your emotions and your actions. Committing another crime is an indication that you lack control and do not understand the gravity of the charge.
4. Do not contact the victim
It is extremely important that you do not contact the alleged victim. Such an act will be considered an act of aggression and intimidation. The court may view it as witness intimidation. 3 Contacting the victim indicates that you lack control. It may also be a violation of a Criminal Protective Order (CPO) that the judge has instituted to restrain you from having contact with the alleged victim. This is a criminal offense in its own right. 4
5. Write down your version of what happened on the day of the incident as soon as possible. Review this document to become familiar with your story
People tend to forget details over time. Reviewing the story that you wrote shortly after the incident will help you remember what happened as you progress toward trial.
6. Talk to your attorney about whether you should give up your right to speedy trial
In California, a defendant charged with a felony has the right to take the case to trial within 60 days of arraignment on an indictment or information unless there is good cause for delay. 5 Early on, you should determine whether you will need continuances to investigate evidence or it is best to take the case to trial while the incident is still fresh in the witnesses’ minds. Usually it benefits a defendant not to assert their right to a speedy trial. Yet you may have obligations, such as returning to college or military service, which will prompt you to resolve the case earlier.
7. If you have a substance abuse problem, start treatment
If you believe that you received this charge due to substance abuse, think of starting AA, NA and/or an inpatient treatment program before you are ordered into one. If you are sentenced to serve time in jail, there is a chance that a judge will accept some or all of the time that you spent in an inpatient program in lieu of time in jail.
8. Work with your attorney to inform your job and other necessary parties regarding the charge
An arrest is not a conviction, yet the conditions of your employment, child custody, and professional license may require that you inform appropriate parties about a charge of rape. You may choose to postpone a renewal hearing for a license or custody matter pending the resolution of your criminal case. Your goal is to protect your reputation without giving the impression that you are trying to conceal the fact that you have been charged.
Contact the Rape Lawyers at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you have been accused of rape, you need to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled sex crime defense attorneys have been successfully defending our clients facing rape charges for over 30 years. We know how devastating a sex crime conviction can be, and that is why we are here to help you.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich sex crimes attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.
1. [Cal. Penal Code § 261.]↩
2. [Cal. Penal Code § 290.]↩
3. [Cal. Penal Code § 136.1 (a)(1) and (2).]↩
4. [Cal. Penal Code § 273.6.]↩
5. [Cal. Penal Code § 1382.]↩