My name is Shannon Lynch and I am an intern in Mr. Bresee’s office. I have been working for Mr. Bresee for the past year and a half. In that time, there seems to be a change in the way that law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office is treating sex crimes. Almost all of the sex crimes cases in Mr. Bresee’s office are headed to trial this year. Although at first glance, this seems to be a good thing, in reality, it is not. Sex crimes carry a very negative connotation in our society. People shutter at the very sound of charges that are related to sex crimes and any crimes against children regardless of what the actual facts are. This makes it incredibly hard for a defendant to have a fair trial. Hearing the charges of sex crimes alone is enough to make a lot of potential jurors decide that the defendant is guilty before the trial even starts.
In my observation, this is becoming a real problem. Not only is it near impossible for the defendant to have a fair trial due to the negative connotations associated with some of these sex crimes charges, but District Attorneys are less and less willing to make an acceptable offer to defendants in order to prevent a case from going to trial. The deal that the District Attorneys office is willing to give to defendants charged with any sex crime, is plead guilty, in other words, no deal. This is usually the case regardless of the information they have or the actual facts of the case. Defense attorneys that have proof their clients didn’t commit the crime goes unnoticed by district attorneys as well as law enforcement. The attitude of the district attorney is conviction at all costs, and if he really is guilty, then a jury will decide that. However, as I just discussed, charges alone can make people think you’re guilty.
I always had the perception that law enforcement was looking for the truth and the district attorneys were going to ensure justice was found. Well, as I have learned over the years this is just not true. District attorneys only care about convictions and what looks good to the public. Law enforcement seems to have an unwritten policy of arrest first, sort out the facts later, or not at all. This is one of the fundamental issues with our justice system. As Mr. Bresee always says, “this is a business dispensing justice, not a justice system dispensing justice.”
So what are people supposed to do? If you are charged with a sex crime, you have very limited options. Here is an infographic of what to do if you are charged with a sex crime. Following the infographic are more details around the steps.
Things to remember if you are charged with a sex crime:
- Exercise your right to remain SILENT. This is the best way that you can help yourself. Once you are accused of a sex crime, there is not a lot you can say to get yourself out of it. Chances are, police have already made up their mind and nothing you have to say is going to change that. They only thing you are doing by talking to law enforcement is solidifying yourself to a statement that may end up ruining your case later down the road. People incorrectly think that they can explain their side and it will all go away. All you do when you speak to law enforcement is give them the evidence they need to convict you. You can say you didn’t do anything wrong over and over for days on end and the police won’t stop until they get something from you that will better ensure your conviction. Do not be worried that if you don’t talk you will look guilty. Keeping silent could save your life later down the road.
- CONTACT AN ATTORNEY RIGHT AWAY. People are very worried that if they ask for a lawyer that they will look guilty. This is a silly assumption. It is your right as an American citizen to have an attorney. There are many things about the law that people don’t understand. Lawyers understand the rules, the system, the players and the tactics. Protecting yourself is the most important thing to you and your family, and to do that, you need the assistance of an attorney.
- Make the police do their job. Don’t just hand over evidence to the police. Their job is to investigate. If you hand over all the evidence they need then there is no reason for them to investigate because you gave them the evidence they need to convict you. Do not hand over your DNA without a court order. Do not let people search your car or your house without a warrant. Don’t voluntarily speak to the police without a lawyer present. Do not speak with anyone over the phone about sex crimes allegations. It doesn’t do you any justice to be tricked by the police. Police use a number of tactics to make you think they are on your side and you won’t get in trouble. This is never the case.
- Listen to your attorney’s advice. Your attorney knows the system. Your attorney has more of an idea about what a jury is and isn’t going to believe at a trial. Even if you don’t agree, it is best to at least fully acknowledge and take deep consideration of what your attorney advises.
All in all, it is up to you to protect yourself. Sex crimes are very serious charges, and the legal system takes them very seriously. Do what you can to protect yourself before the trial so you can have a fair day in court. M. Colin Bresee has been a part of more than 100 sex crimes trials as a prosecutor and a defense attorney. He knows the games law enforcement likes to play and he knows the district attorney’s strategy in sex crimes cases more than any attorney in Colorado. If you are charged with a sex crime, help yourself but more importantly, let M. Colin Bresee help you too.
By Shannon Lynch: Intern
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