Defense attorneys and the investigators they hire may contact sex crimes victims. This is essential to know if you have been charged with a sex offense in California. However, there is no guarantee that the alleged victim (usually identified by defense attorneys as the Complaining Witness) will speak with your attorney or investigator. Under California’s Victims’ Bill of Rights, also known as Marsy’s Law, victims have the right to refuse contact with defense attorneys or members of their team. Despite your legal team’s best efforts, you may only be able to speak with the alleged victim or obtain information in certain ways during a criminal case.
Your Defense Attorney Options
If you are accused of a sex offense, your attorney has the option to contact the alleged victim. There is no law that prohibits your attorney from calling, emailing, or sending a letter to the alleged victim asking for a conversation or meeting.
Whether or not your lawyer will do this depends on a number of factors, including the likelihood of the individual to respond positively and whether or not the contact could hurt your case. If your situation is based on a genuine misunderstanding, one conversation could help. However, your lawyer will never want to do anything that could be construed as intimidating, harassing, or abusing the victim. Any of this kind of conduct is a violation of the victim’s rights and could harm your defense.
The Alleged Victim’s Options
California’s Victims’ Bill of Rights states that victims have a number of rights when it comes to their interaction with the courts, including:
- The right to be treated with respect in regard to their privacy and dignity.
- The right to be free from intimidation or abuse through the legal process.
- The right to be protected from the defendant and anyone acting on the defendant’s behalf.
- The right to have their safety considered in regard to a defendant’s possible release from jail.
- The right to prevent the disclosure of confidential information to the defendant or their legal team.
- The right to refuse an interview or discovery request by the defendant or their legal team.
- The right to set reasonable conditions on any interview with the defendant’s legal team.
While your attorney may decide to reach out to someone claiming to be a victim of a sex offense you allegedly perpetrated, that individual has the right to say no. They are under no obligation to talk to your attorney or investigator, or to anyone working on your behalf. Because of these rights, it is sometimes pointless for your attorney to contact a sex offense victim outside of the legal proceedings. Instead, your lawyer may focus on gaining information through the discovery process and thoroughly questioning the victim as a witness at trial. Which process to employ will depend on the facts in your case.
Have You Been Accused of a Sex Crime?
If you have been accused of committing any type of sex offense, you need to contact an experienced defense attorney. Hiring a lawyer is the best way to receive a thorough analysis of your case and objective opinion regarding the best and worst possible outcomes. Attorney Michael McKneely may see a way to fight for the charges to be dropped or reduced that other attorneys miss. He will also determine your strongest defense if prosecutors insist on going to trial.