False accusations of child molestation can happen for a number of different reasons. A child might be lying – either of their own volition (perhaps because they’re angry about something) or because they have been coached by another adult to do so. However, it’s also possible that the child has misinterpreted certain events or simply identified the wrong person. Regardless of why it has happened, any accusation of this nature is extremely serious and you should consult with an attorney as soon possible. This is not the type of situation you should try to navigate on your own; the risk is too great, even if you’re innocent. There are a number of important ways a skilled defense attorney can help you if you’re being falsely accused of this type of crime.
Ensuring that Your Constitutional Rights Are Protected
You might assume that if you haven’t done anything wrong, there’s no risk involved in answering a police officer’s questions without an attorney. However, you never know how your words or demeanor might be misconstrued by the officer documenting your conversation. Having a lawyer in the room if and when you are questioned will ensure you don’t end up in a situation where it’s the police officer’s word against yours. An attorney can also challenge the use of evidence that might have been obtained unlawfully, for example, through an illegal search carried out without a warrant.
Identifying Problems in the Forensic Interview of the Alleged Victim
Interviewing children is difficult, even for persons trained to do it. Every interviewer suffers from what psychologists call “confirmation bias”—the natural tendency to look for information that supports an idea and to overlook information that contradicts it. This means the child interviewers used by the police are unavoidably biased against you, the accused. Even the best-intentioned interviewers can introduce or suggest facts which the child will adopt and report as things that happened. These interviews are usually recorded, which means that your defense attorney can consult with experts in forensic interviewing and psychology to spot instances of suggestion or leading and evidence of false memories.
Interviewing the Alleged Victim
Under Washington law, your defense attorney is permitted to interview the complaining child. This interview is an invaluable opportunity to help build your defense and can be the most important event of the case. The interview needs to be conducted by an attorney who has the specialized skill set needed to effectively handle the unique dynamics involved in child abuse cases and child interviews. The truth is much more likely to emerge if the child feels at ease and is asked to discuss each distinct episode of supposed abuse. If the right questions are asked, the case against the accused sometimes collapses at this stage.
Consulting Independent Experts
Your attorney can work with a private investigator and medical and psychological experts—persons who don’t work for the government–to collect and analyze evidence that might prove your innocence. When there is little evidence against you but the statements of the child, your attorney’s investigation should search for reasons the child might make a false allegation. No stone should be left unturned when it comes to the fight to protect your liberty and restore your reputation.
If you are facing a false accusation of child molestation, the Marshall Defense Firm is here to help. Our experienced, skilled defense attorneys would be happy to discuss the matter with you. Please contact us at 206.826.1400 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation.