How do good attorneys lose false allegations of child sexual abuse cases?
They believe one or more of the following deadly myths:
These cases are like any other criminal case.
Not true. While the standard of proof remains technically the same, juries expect you to prove your case, rather than just defend it. Fail to do so only at your client’s peril!
This is simply a credibility case.
You may show that the complaining witness has lied on numerous occasions, you may even show that she has a propensity to lie, the critical question is: Did she lie about the specific allegations? Experience teaches that juries believe that children generally do not lie about sexual abuse allegations. Changing this perception requires specific psychosocial techniques that are case-specific.
The prosecution does not have enough to prove this case.
National experience teaches that the prosecution does not need very much to “prove” child abuse allegations. If you do not present a plausible theory of the case that contains both internal and external consistency, you will likely lose the case.
I’ll counter the state’s expert by putting on contradictory expert testimony.
State’s experts are viewed by juries as champions of children and defense “hired guns” are viewed as apologists for pedophiles. Feed into this dynamic only at your client’s peril! National experience teaches that the effective way to counter a state’s expert who proffers “junk science” is to make him the defendant’s witness through appropriate and informed cross-examination. Moreover, the most effective strategy for dealing with adverse expert witnesses is through informed motion practice, particularly in the area of motions in limine and/or Frye or Daulbert motions. Nichols Consulting is on the cutting edge of national developments in these areas wherein forensics and the law meet. [See our Motions Library available for immediate download on this site.]
I’ll show the jury that the complaining witness was influenced by others to make the false allegations.
Juries dislike conspiracy theories, judges hate them. The appropriate context to show that a young child was influenced by significant others and/or interviewers is in the context of a pretrial “suggestibility/taint” hearing [called by different names in various jurisdictions]. This emerging area of the law is recognized nationally. The case law is clear, and such a hearing holds great promise for limiting hearsay that often comes in under various “hearsay exceptions”. Moreover, these pretrial hearings offer excellent discovery opportunities especially when coupled with informed and inspired Brady motions. Nichols Consulting is on the forefront of these proceedings. [See our Child Suggestibility Litigation Library available for immediate download from this site.]
These cases do not require any special expertise on the part of the defense attorney.
These cases are stacked against the defendant: Judges routinely rule in favor of the prosecutor on evidentiary issues. Often they ignore relevant case law that defense counsel must be aware of to defend his client effectively. Juries, in the best case, are highly prejudiced against the defendant; and in the worst case, will convict unless you put on a compelling case. Prosecutors get to try their case with the assistance of a department of social services, a child protection unit, and a cadre of homegrown “prosecution experts” -- all trained in sophisticated, psychosocial dynamics that feeds into the jury’s “perceptions” that have been tainted by public service “education”. The cards are stacked against the defendant. Nichols Consulting not only levels the playing field but also brings to your case the advantage of our national experience. [See our online video Success Stories.] Next Question