Child Sexual Abuse Allegations: Unraveling the Legal Process and Mounting an Effective Defense

Child sexual abuse allegations are among the most serious and frightening a person can face. 

An allegation of a sex crime against a child comes with a great deal of stigma and the potential for serious penalties. Those convicted are often shunned by family and society, may face a long period of incarceration, and must endure onerous restrictions on their behavior if placed on community custody.  


Whether you have been accused of child molestation, rape of a child (often referred to as “statutory rape”), having sexual contact with a student or young employee, or any other allegations of sexual misconduct involving a minor, the first thing you should do is find an attorney with the experience and skill to defend such a case well. We have spent decades defending people accused of crimes against children, and over the course of that time we have developed an approach that works. 


What Should I Do if the Police Want to Talk to Me? 


You should not say anything to the police other than to tell them you want to talk to a lawyer. Most anything you say to the police can be used against you in court. Even if you don’t say anything incriminating, it still opens the door to the officer providing testimony about your demeanor to suggest you were not being truthful during the interview.  


Although police will likely imply otherwise to you, it is never a good idea for someone suspected of a crime, especially something as serious as child sexual abuse, to communicate with the police – not in person, on the phone, or in writing – without having a lawyer present. 


The risk of false accusations is very high in child molestation cases. Those who are innocent often assume there is nothing to be lost from cooperating with law enforcement. We have seen this assumption cause innocent persons to make their cases more difficult to defend. Emotions are easily inflamed in cases like these because of the nature of the accusations, so the risk of wrongful conviction is also high. 


If there is information helpful to your case that needs to be shared with the police, your lawyer can provide it to them. It is difficult for the police and prosecutors to use this kind of communication against you, so it is always better to let them speak on your behalf. 


Child Protective Services (CPS) 


If you are facing an allegation of child sexual abuse involving your own son or daughter or a minor child who is living in the same home as you, it is likely that Child Protective Services (CPS) will be involved in the case at some point as well. CPS is an agency tasked with protecting children from abuse and neglect, which gives them the power to investigate reports of child abuse, refer cases to law enforcement, and remove children from the home if they determine it is necessary to protect the child.  


Sometimes an investigation of child sexual abuse will begin with CPS, who may then provide the information they gather to police to initiate a criminal investigation. Other times, it is the criminal investigation that prompts CPS to become involved. 


Either way, the information gathered through a CPS investigation can be used by police and prosecutors as evidence against you in a criminal case, though they may not tell you as much. Because of this, all the admonitions above about not talking to the police without your lawyer present apply to CPS investigators as well. 


It is natural to want to defend yourself if you are concerned about potentially losing custody of your child, especially if the accusations against you are not true. However, it is still best to politely decline to talk with them until you can hire and speak with a lawyer.  


We are experienced in dealing with CPS investigations, and just as we can share information with the police, we can also communicate with CPS on your behalf to ensure you do not say or do anything to further jeopardize yourself or your children. 


If you or a loved one is facing an allegation of child sexual abuse in Washington, the Marshall Defense Firm is here to help. Contact us at 206.826.1400 or to schedule an appointment. 

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