It is important to understand what to expect in Maryland federal sex crime cases so that you can be prepared to fight back. These charges come with harsh penalties, which makes them especially intimidating. However, a skilled sex crimes lawyer can advocate for your rights and help build a defense to give you the best chance of a positive outcome.
After a person is arrested for a sex crime, the first job of an attorney is to assess their options. If the allegations include a violent offense, the person may be held in jail until the trial. Otherwise, they need to determine the bond. Being in jail can make it much harder to put a case together and creates extra pressure to plead guilty just to move faster, rather than waiting for the trial date.
Next, there will either be an indictment or a preliminary hearing for a probable cause determination. Frequently, the prosecutors indict before they even arrest a person in these cases because they usually have a relatively extensive investigation that takes place before the arrest.
They will then go through the discovery process and other pretrial activities and have plea negotiations. If the person chooses not to accept a plea, they will have a trial. Sometimes these cases can take nine to 18 months before a trial is held.
During this time, the defense will be putting their case together, preparing their defense strategy, and collecting evidence. Sometimes there will be pretrial motions, such as a motion to suppress the statement that the defendant might have given or to suppress evidence that might have been used illegally. These can be pivotal in putting together a strong defense.
Sex crimes can vary from misdemeanor to felony, depending on the actual offense. For example, an offense classified as forcible rape is going to be charged as a felony. Groping, on the other hand, may be charged as a misdemeanor. An attorney can examine the circumstances surrounding an arrest to help determine what the charges may be classified as.
If the case is in circuit court, which is the higher trial court, a person generally has the option to have a jury or a bench trial. However, those cases are usually jury trials. Cases brought in district court, which are the lower-level cases, generally do not have juries.
In many sex crimes cases, the collection of DNA is very important, but this can be an issue. Depending on the case, the investigators may need to get a swab or a sample of DNA from the suspect, but they need a warrant to do that. If they take the sample it without having a warrant, it can raise the Fourth Amendment issues.
Seizure of clothing, bedding, or other materials can sometimes raise Fourth Amendment issues as well, depending on whose house or apartment they take the evidence from. If it is the complainant’s home, that does not raise any issues, but if it is the suspect’s home, it can raise constitutional issues if they did not have a warrant.
Statements can also result in constitutional issues. The police may try to interview the suspect as soon as possible. If they assert their Miranda right to remain silent, they may interview them anyway. That could raise Fifth Amendment issues that can lead to the suppression of the statement.
Facing charges for sex crimes in Maryland can be intimidating, especially if you do not know what to expect. If you are facing these allegations, an experienced attorney could help you know what to expect from Maryland federal sex crime cases. Call today for a consultation.