For those who have been falsely accused of child sexual abuse, one of the most difficult tasks they will face is retaining the proper attorney to represent them. There is far more involved than simply looking in the yellow pages or having someone provide a referral.
Although false allegation cases have become nothing short of an epidemic, they are not specific to any one area. Attorneys who do not travel simply do not have exposure to these cases and most of them fall short when it comes to providing a proper defense.
Meet with the attorney and, at that time, ask specific questions to determine if they have experience defending clients falsely accused of child sexual abuse and, if they are being honest or simply telling the client what they want to hear.
It is strongly recommended that before any attorney is retained, the prospective client check to see if any complaints have been filed against that attorney with the local bar association. Remember, this is your life and it is far less time consuming to get a proper attorney than it is to try and overturn a conviction, so be wise.
You should also ask your prospective attorney questions to help determine the extent of their experience and knowledge of false allegation cases. The following are questions that can help you gauge this along with answers that should raise red flags as they may indicate a lack of knowledge of child sexual abuse cases or hint that the attorney is more concerned about selling his/her services than truely responding:
- Have you ever defended a client who was accused of child sexual abuse?
- How many clients have you defended who were accused of child sexual abuse?
- How many cases have you won where you defended a client who was charged with sexual abuse?
- In your cases where clients were charged with sexual abuse, how many of them entered a plea?
- Are you experienced at questioning young children on the stand?
- What do you do if questioning a child and they begin to cry?
- What is your policy regarding a preliminary hearing?
- Do children lie about something as serious as sexual abuse?
- Why would a child lie about being sexually molested?
- Would Jury Voir Dire be different in a child sexual abuse case?
- What type questions would you ask in jury voir dire where a client was charged with sexual abuse?
- Explain your procedure on discovery?
- How long after you file a motion for discovery do you give the prosecutor to give it to you?
- What do you do if the prosecutor does not provide proper discovery?
- What information would you look for in a sexual abuse case?
- Which would you prefer, an Abel or a PPG and which would pass Daubert?
- Would you consider an expert to review interview tapes?
- Who would you recommend as an expert for my case?
- What would you be looking for with the interviewer?
- What would you look for from the child when analyzing a video taped interview?
- What is your opinion about multiple interviews of a child accuser?
- What experts have you used in the past in these cases?
- What is a “Taint Hearing” and where did it come from?
- Have you ever heard of the book, “Jeopardy in the Courtroom?”
- Would you have any problem working with someone, a non-lawyer, but someone who has a great deal of experience in child sexual abuse cases?
- If you read what I prepared, you know the charges against me. How would you defend them?
- In my case, should I testify or not?
- If you do want me to testify, how would you prepare me?
- How would you use me to prepare my defense?
- Is there any way that a Motion to Dismiss can be filed in this case?
- Can we successfully defend against these allegations?
- What motions would you file in my case?
- Are you familiar with PAS?
- Are you familiar with the current research about sexual abuse allegations coming out of divorce and custody cases?
- Are you familiar with the S.A.I.D. Syndrome?
The accused is placing their life into the hands of their attorney. They should take whatever steps are necessary to assure that they have the best representation available. It does take effort, but that effort is far less then trying to overturn a conviction.