Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers Fighing Sexual Abuse Charges in New Mexico
Sexual abuse is a very serious matter, but so are false allegations and charges. Have you been wrongly charged with sexual abuse? If so, we understand what you are going through. It can be a time of serious frustration, embarrassment, depression, resentment, and confusion. While you may know you are innocent, it sometimes isn’t enough to just tell the truth. You need experienced defense attorneys on your side. If you have been wrongly accused or charged with sexual abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We defend people just like you every day.
What is Sexual Abuse in New Mexico?
First and foremost, it is important to understand the legal definitions of sexual abuse. Legally speaking, two types of statutes contain definitions of sexual abuse: child protection and criminal. The child protection definition is included in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and reads:
- “(A) the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct; or
- (B) the rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children; …”
The criminal definition can be very detailed and depends on a number of factors, including the age of the child, level of force used, relationship between the victim and offender, and the type of sexual act performed.
Sexual abuse can refer to any or all of the following sexual acts:
- Noncontact acts (sexual comments, exposing of private parts, voyeurism, showing pornographic materials, etc.)
- Sexual contact (offender touching victims private parts, offender forcing victim to touch his/her private parts, frottage, etc.)
- Digital or object penetration (offender placing fingers or other instrument in victim’s vagina or anus, offender forcing victim to place fingers or other instrument in his/her vagina or anus, etc.)
- Oral Sex (cunnilingus, fellatio, anilingus, tongue kissing, breast kissing, etc.)
- Penile Penetration (vaginal or anal intercourse)
The Severity of Sexual Abuse Charges
If you are accused of sexual abuse, you face a lifetime of consequences. These will likely include jail time followed by parole, loss of civil rights and privacy, embarrassment, difficulties finding employment, and more. Don’t take these allegations lightly, even if you know you are innocent.
The problem many people face is that they assume they can expunge their name by simply telling the truth. Sadly enough, this is often not the case. There are two major reasons for this: (1) It is commonly believed that children do not lie – especially about something so serious; and, (2) The court always errs on the side of caution when it comes to child safety and protection. Taking these two factors into account, you can see the importance of finding legal representation when falsely accused of sexual abuse.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are New Mexico’s child abuse reporting requirements?
- a law enforcement agency;
- the Department of Children, Youth and Families; or
- a tribal authority (in Native American jurisdictions).
This requirement is primarily enforced against physicians and other professionals. Failure to report suspected child abuse can result in incarceration for up to one year.
What should I do if I am investigated for child sexual abuse?
- Don’t answer any questions from the police or comment on your case outside the presence of your lawyer.
- Do not consent to a search, but do not resist one if the officers have a warrant. You can always challenge the search in court.
- Call your lawyer immediately if you are taken to the police station for questioning or receive a summons or a subpoena.
What does a grand jury do?
A grand jury is a group of citizens, something like a jury, that examines evidence presented by the prosecutor to determine whether there is enough evidence to indict you for a crime. Unlike a trial, you have no right to a defense, you have no right to appear, and you might not even be informed of the proceedings until later.
How can plea bargaining be used to help me?
There are two main ways:
- Plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a guilty plea; or
- Demand immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against someone else charged with a more serious offense. Strictly speaking, this is not plea bargaining, but it is similar.
What are the exceptions to the warrant requirement?
Some of the most common exceptions are:
- You consented to the search
- The evidence was in plain view
- A search of your person and your immediate surroundings is lawful if it accompanies a lawful arrest
- A pat-down of your outer garments is permitted if it is based on reasonable suspicion
- A search of your vehicle is permitted if there is probable cause to believe it contains evidence
What is the exclusionary rule and how can it protect me?
The exclusionary rule, as its name indicates, excludes any evidence against you that was seized illegally (without a search warrant or an exception to the warrant requirement). The rationale for the exclusionary rule is based on the Fourth Amendment. If critical evidence is excluded, the prosecutor might not have enough evidence left to convict you.
Can I rest assured that all of our communications will be kept confidential?
Yes, absolutely. As attorneys licensed by the state, we have a legal and ethical obligation to keep all client communications secret, even an admission of guilt. Even a court cannot compel us to divulge any information that you tell us in confidence.
Can my accuser end the prosecution by refusing to press charges?
No, this is a misconception created by police-oriented television shows. Only the prosecutor can drop charges. Of course, the accuser can render a prosecution more difficult by refusing to cooperate with the prosecution.
What to Do
The most important thing to do when falsely accused of sexual abuse is to act swiftly. Contact an Albuquerque, New Mexico defense attorney and begin the process of clearing your name. Again, don’t assume telling the truth is enough. You need someone who understands the challenges of proving allegations false, presenting reasonable explanation for why false allegations were made, and placing the burden of proof on the accuser.
The New Mexico Criminal Law Offices have been helping people just like you since 1997. Our firm is made up of two attorneys with one priority: clearing your name. If you are looking for personalized legal representation, unparalleled experience, and genuine care and compassion for your situation, contact us today. We would be happy to provide you with a free initial consolation and answer any questions you may have.