Anyone who watches the news in the Baltimore area has probably seen the reports on the case involving allegations against an aide at the Maryland School for the Deaf. He was being prosecuted in the Howard County Circuit Court for seven consolidated cases of sexual abuse of a minor and related charges. All seven girls alleged some form of touching of the genitals and some alleged solicitation of pornographic pictures. After several days of testimony and three days of deliberation, the defendant was found guilty in two cases, not guilty in one case, and the remaining four cases resulted in a hung jury. This means that not all twelve jurors could agree that he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on those four cases.
Allegations of sexual abuse occur frequently and are to be taken very seriously. The moment an allegation is made, the individual accused should immediately contact an aggressive Maryland criminal defense attorney.
Every allegation is handled differently. In some cases, if it involves children, Child Protective Services (CPS) may investigate prior to turning the case over to the local police department. In other cases, the investigation is handled simultaneously by CPS and the local police department.
The moment the accused is contacted by either of these agencies, securing a defense attorney is important for protecting the alleged abuser’s rights. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer will advise the accused on several aspects of the case, including whether they should give any statements. Most people are inclined to immediately give a full statement, either not knowing their rights to counsel, or because they feel the need to tell their side of the story. This can be very dangerous because both the police detectives and CPS are there to gather evidence to support the allegations.
If CPS is involved, the first thing they will do is create a safety plan, which ensures the alleged abuser is not living in the same household as the child making the allegation. They will then conduct interviews of the person making the allegation, any witnesses or others who may have information, and then attempt to interview the accused. In some cases, they request a search or inspection of the home. Based on all of that evidence, they will conclude that the allegations are “Indicated,” “Unsubstantiated,” or “Ruled Out.” Findings of Indicated and Unsubstantiated result in the individual’s name and addresses being placed into a confidential state database.
If the police department is involved, they will put together their case based on all of the evidence gathered and present the case to the local state prosecutors. The prosecutor will review the evidence and determine whether there is enough to go forward with criminal charges. In the event criminal charges are filed, the accused is now looking at extreme consequences. An aggressive Maryland criminal defense attorney can assist you in putting together your defense, because guilt or innocence will now be decided either by a judge or a jury. A conviction can result in lengthy incarceration, and you will be required to register as a sex offender. The length of the required registration period depends on the exact charge, but there is a strong possibility that registration will be required for life.
To prevent these situations from escalating into these extremely serious consequences, contact an attorney the moment an accusation is made, and prior to making any statements or allowing anyone to enter your home or any other place where you have an expectation of privacy.