The past several months have brought one public revelation after another of famous figures in the media, politics, and entertainment who have been accused of sexual misconduct for acts that allegedly occurred years in the past. Many of these individuals have been fired from their positions or organizations over these allegations, while others are finding themselves the subject of criminal investigations for the alleged past acts, which could lead to prosecutions, convictions, and years in prison.
In general, this news is all a sign of a growing seriousness with which sexual misconduct is being treated in our society, but it is of course the case that there is always the possibility of false or overstated allegations. When it comes to the criminal law, every person has constitutional rights to due process and to defend themselves with the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney. With that in mind, here is an overview of what to do if you have been accused of sexual misconduct in Oklahoma.
Contact an Attorney to Discuss the Allegations
Not all sexual “misconduct” rises to the level of a criminal offense, but it can be difficult for you as the accused to know what is potentially criminal behavior and what is not. For example, sexual harassment in the workplace in the form of lewd statements or quid pro quo offers of benefits for sex could land you in the center of a civil lawsuit, but may not be criminal.
By contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you became aware of allegations of sexual misconduct, you can learn about your potential criminal liability and what steps you can take to protect your reputation and your future. A good criminal defense attorney will work with you without judgment and will seek your best outcome.
Understand the Statute of Limitations in Oklahoma For Sex Crimes
Prosecutors can only bring criminal charges for an offense when it is within the statute of limitations. That said, the statute of limitations in Oklahoma for a number of sex crimes is quite lengthy.
For the crime of lewd sex acts with a minor – which includes a host of actions such as forcing a minor to look at a person’s private parts, making any kind of proposal to a child under the age of 16 to have sex with an adult, or providing pornography to a child – prosecutors have 12 years from the date law enforcement discovers the crime in which to bring criminal charges. In some cases, this can be much longer than the 12-year period after the alleged event itself.
Rape and forcible sodomy also have a 12-year statute of limitations. Other sex crimes may be subject to shorter statutes of limitation.
Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent in the Face of Allegations
Being accused of a sex crime is certainly one of the most challenging accusations one can face, and so the temptation may be there to lash out at any person making or repeating the accusations. But doing so will probably gain you little, while potentially making your situation even worse.
Again, as a non-lawyer accused person, you likely have no idea what statements that you say in your defense may actually serve only to build a case against you. You are under no obligation to answer questions from members of the public, and, if the police question you, you can decline to answer their questions and also say that you wish for all questioning to cease without an attorney present.
By working with your criminal defense attorney, you can assess your potential liability, the full factual picture, and then respond (or not) in a way that asserts your interests while defending your rights.
Contact an Oklahoma Sex Crime Defense Attorney
Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney Patrick Quillian worked as an Oklahoma district attorney, and will work with you in mounting your best defense in your criminal matter. Contact the office of J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, today at 405.294.4448 to schedule a free consultation to see what his criminal defense team can do for you.