False accusations of sexual assault are all too common on college campuses today. Most Virginians will remember that in 2014, Rolling Stone magazine published a now-retracted story called “A Rape on Campus,” which described in graphic detail rampant sexual assault that went unpunished at the University of Virginia. The only problem was, Rolling Stone’s main source for the article fabricated her story. Fortunately, no one was prosecuted as a result of these false claims, but many others are not so lucky.
College students and instructors facing fabricated accusations of sexual assault may feel that, in both the university disciplinary process and in the criminal proceedings, they are treated as guilty until proven innocent. But if you retain an experienced attorney right away, you stand a better chance of overcoming university rape allegations, and clearing your name in court. The Roanoke rape lawyers of Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico are ready to fight for you today.
Contact us today at (540) 343-9349 to schedule your consultation.
Keep Quiet and Talk With a Lawyer
Some people get lucky and are able to talk themselves out of trouble. But these instances are only exceptions to the rule that after you’ve been accused of any crime, you should not speak to the police, to the complainant, or any other potential witnesses. Everything you say and do can be turned around and used against you. So once you learn of the accusations against you, it will generally be in your interest to not discuss the case with anyone except for your Roanoke criminal defense lawyer.
As a college student, you will face two separate proceedings if you get accused of sexual misconduct. In addition to being prosecuted in state court, your university will usually hold a disciplinary hearing. Depending on the strength of the allegations against you and the defenses that you muster, your university may clear you of wrongdoing, put you on probation, suspend you, or in the most serious cases – expel you. Remember that the school is biased when it conducts these hearings. Finding out the truth is not their primary goal. Instead, the school’s first motivation is to protect their reputation.
The rules governing the disciplinary hearing and the specific sanctions you might receive will vary from school to school, but in general, you do not benefit from the same rights you do as in a criminal trial. You may not have the right to have an attorney speak on your behalf, you may not be able to confront the accuser and witnesses directly, and your decision to remain silent could be held against you. For these reasons, it’s essential that you prepare for your disciplinary hearing with the help of an attorney who is familiar with your case and these types of proceedings.
Most criminal proceedings end when the defendant pleads guilty or no contest to the charges. When it comes to sexual assault and other sex crimes, a guilty or no contest plea doesn’t just mean that you will receive criminal penalties. You will also face the lifelong collateral consequences of a sex crimes allegation or conviction, including the obligation to register as a sex offender and severe limitations on where you can live and work. Therefore, you should consult with an attorney before considering a plea agreement. By closely reviewing your case and the evidence against you, your lawyer may be able to successfully advocate for your acquittal or even the dismissal of your charges.
A Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
There could be many reasons why someone would wrongfully accuse you of sexual misconduct. In some cases, when a relationship deteriorates, one partner will take revenge on the other by accusing them of criminal, sexual acts. Other times, someone might wake up the morning after a drunken hookup, and regretting what happened, tell their friends or significant other that they were raped. More worrying still, some people out there might make false accusations just to get attention, or for the thrill of ruining someone else’s life.
Whatever the reason behind your false accusations, the Virginia sexual assault lawyers of Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico are ready to fight for justice. A prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you engaged in non-consensual sexual conduct. By independently investigating the case, challenging the state’s evidence, and cross-examining their witnesses, we may be able to show that the prosecution has not met this burden.