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What Happens When Accusers Retract Sex Crime Allegations?

Mar 30, 2018 by Mike McKneely in Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes

Few things can turn your life upside down like a rape accusation, especially one you know to be false. Fortunately, many rape cases based on false accusations do not end in a conviction. Furthermore, many suspected instances of sexual assault never even result in formal charges being filed. Prosecutors are usually careful not to prosecute rape cases unless the victim’s claims are believable, and there is some other evidence that shows a rape occurred. This is because an experienced sex crimes defense attorney can dismantle the prosecution’s case if it’s based solely on an alleged victim’s lies.

If you’ve been falsely accused of a sex crime, contact an attorney from Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer at (559) 443-7442 to schedule a free case consultation.

How Often are Rape Accusations False?

The proportion of rape complaints based on false accusations is a controversial subject. Assuming that the police are good at judging the merits of a victim’s claims, most rape accusations have at least some basis in fact. Whether you look at data from the FBI or from the Los Angeles Police Department, it appears that around 95 percent of rape reports are deemed reliable enough for law enforcement to pass the case on to the prosecution.

But just because the police are confident that a rape occurred, does not mean that the alleged perpetrator will face charges. That decision depends on the prosecutor, who must review the police report and determine whether the available evidence shows it is likely that the rape occurred.

Prosecutors know how challenging it can be to prove a rape case beyond a reasonable doubt, so they generally proceed only with cases that are backed by credible testimony and supplemented by other evidence.

Without solid evidence, it can be extremely difficult to obtain a rape conviction. A jury needs to be convinced that sexual contact actually occurred, and that it was completed without the victim’s consent. The completion of a sexual act and the lack of consent usually cannot be established (or denied) through statements alone. The prosecutor often proves sexual contact through the use of DNA samples, and then presents circumstantial evidence of the defendant’s use of force to overcome the victim, or of the victim’s incapacitation through alcohol or drugs.

What Are the Consequences of Fake Rape Accusations?

There are times where people do get convicted of rape after false accusations. In 2002, for example, Southern California high school football star Brian Banks was convicted of raping a classmate. Feeling he couldn’t win his case at trial, he pleaded guilty to the charges. But years later, that classmate admitted to him that she had lied and apologized. Fortunately, Banks acted promptly and contacted the California Innocence Project, whose lawyers were able to convince the accuser to recant her testimony in the presence of a prosecutor. In the end, Baker’s conviction was reversed.

False accusations may result in both criminal and civil penalties. Baker’s accuser was sued by the City of Los Angeles because she had previously obtained a large monetary settlement from the Long Beach School District for allowing the rape to happen. She lost the suit and was ordered to pay the settlement money back, on top millions of dollars in court costs.

A Sex Crimes Defense Attorney Can Help Defend You Against False Accusations

What Banks’ story demonstrates is that if you have been the subject of rape accusations, it is imperative that you hire the best sex crime defense lawyer possible. No matter what stage of the criminal justice process your case stands, a criminal defense attorney can make a difference – even if you have already been convicted.

At Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer, we have a proven track record of obtaining good outcomes in high stakes criminal cases. Contact us today at (559) 443-7442 to schedule your confidential consultation.

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