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Defending sexual assault charges is a delicate balance

Sexual assault crimes are difficult to defend at trial. These crimes involve highly sensitive topics that are difficult to discuss in a private moment, let alone in a trial with dozens of people. They often involve conflicting testimonies from witnesses.

A successful defense of sexual assault charges can often hinge on the appeal of the victim and how "bad" the defendant appears. Your attorney, unlike in the classic Atticus Finch approach, must take special caution in making your case. Unfortunately, he cannot hammer home your innocence without taking into account the response of the victim. The last thing your defense needs is to look like you are bashing on the victim.

Luckily, however, there are three strategies that your attorney can use to mount your defense:

  • Innocence.
  • Consent.
  • Mental incapacity.

Innocence is the most basic defense strategy. In the context of a sexual assault case, it usually depends upon you being in a location that is different from where the assault took place. This defense is only available to you if you can produce evidence to establish your actual whereabouts.

Consent is another strategy. Generally, this turns into a "he said she said" because it depends on the exact interaction between you and the victim. This is where the delicate balance your attorney must maintain is critical. You do not want to come off as too aggressive in establishing consent because it can backfire and paint you in a negative light to the jury.

Mental capacity is the last defensive strategy. The criteria for using this defense varies from state to state. However, most states will show leniency on defendants who are unable to understand the implications of their actions because they are suffering from a mental illness or some other mental challenge.

If you are charged with sexual assault, you may want to have an experienced criminal defense attorney review your options. These are emotional charges, and that can make mounting an effective defense strategy complicated, but having strong representation means you don't have to go through the process alone.

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The Naperville, Illinois, law firm of Jim Ryan & Associates is available to serve people throughout the Chicago metropolitan area with a focus in DuPage County, the western suburbs and Naperville, in communities such Downers Grove, Wheaton, Carol Stream, Bloomingdale, Addison, Itasca, Warrenville, Woodridge, Oswego, Yorkville, Roselle, Aurora and Elmhurst. We also represent students and parents of students who attend any of the area schools and universities, including Naperville North High School, Naperville Central High School, Neuqua Valley High School, Waubonsie Valley and North Central College.

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