For all criminal matters and particularly child abuse charges the best way to handle them is to anticipate the arguments and proof and try to address them in advance, or at least be prepared at trial. The following are some common tactics and suggestions for ways of handling sex abuse cases:
Before trial the following can possibly be done to help defend child abuse cases and charges:
- The defendant’s statement indicates he was the subject of sex abuse as a child: Investigators routinely elicit this information from defendants, perhaps in an effort to seem sympathetic during the interrogation, but more likely, to attempt to get that information before a jury, which is likely to believe that someone who has been abused in the past will be an abuser. The U.S. Government Accountability Office surveyed studies and concluded that there was no conclusive evidence that those abused as children would become abusers as adults. http://www.gao.gov/products/GGD-96-178. If you have this inflammatory information in the interrogation, a motion can be made in limine to keep it out. If it’s deemed relevant a Frye Hearing can be requested arguing that if the science does not support this, the evidence should not come in. An additional agreement here is that even if it does, it’s probative value is outweighed by its prejudicial effect.
- The claim that the child’s school performance deteriorated after the alleged abuse: This is often given antecdotally by relatives. But again, there is a study that supports a conclusion that there is no correlation between childhood sexual abuse and poor school performance.
- A motion could also be made here to preclude the use of any testimony of declining performance by the child, or ask for a Frye Hearing.
- CSAAS as witnesses. A motion can be made to preclude them as a witness/expert.
- Youthful indiscretions. Particular attention should be made as to whether the prosecution will try to highlight the many children with many mothers. This can possibly be limited by citing People v. Presha 83 AD3d 1406.
Contact William Balduf, Esq. and let his 30 years of experience work for you. Serving Syracuse and Oswego, New York.