Our firm specializes in the defense of sex offense allegations and the majority of these involve alleged child molestation offenses. These cases are unlike any other crime in that the key witness is almost always a child and there is rarely an eyewitness or physical evidence to either prove or disprove the allegations.
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To properly defend a child molestation case, we must be prepared to answer the ultimate question: Why would a child make a false allegation? This requires a deep understanding of how susceptible children are to influence and how improper suggestions can lead to false allegations and the creation of false memories. Our team is completely devoted to defending sex crime cases in Georgia and we are motivated by our unyielding desire to prove the innocence of anyone falsely accused of such awful crimes.
Very few firms specialize in child molestation cases and our years of experience in this area has enabled us to obtain an overwhelming number of dismissals and acquittals for our clients. We work only with the leading investigators and experts in the field and will stop at nothing to win the case.
Under Georgia’s child molestation statute, it is unlawful to perform any immoral or indecent act to or in the presence of a child under 16 years old with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of the adult or child; or by means of an electronic device, transmit images of a person engaging in, inducing, or otherwise participating in any immoral or indecent act to a child under the age of 16 years with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires or the adult or child.
The offense of aggravated child molestation occurs when a person commits an act of child molestation that physically injures the child or involves sodomy. Sodomy occurs when someone performs or submits to a sexual act involving one person’s sex organs and another person’s mouth or anus.
As soon as we learn that an allegation has been made, we need to begin gathering and preserving evidence. Over the years, we have learned that the more proactive we are at the outset, the more successful we can be in preventing an arrest or an indictment. Because we represent just a small number of clients at a time, we are able to devote hundreds of hours to each case which is what enables us to get the results that we achieve.
Our lead investigator spent 14 years in the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office.
Most of this time was spent in the Crimes Against Children Unit, investigating child molestation cases for the prosecution. With extensive knowledge as to how these cases are prepared and prosecuted, she and our team know exactly what must be done by the defense to obtain a dismissal or acquittal. As a result of our thorough investigations, we are able to resolve many of our cases prior to indictment and some even prior to an arrest being made.
We approach our investigation in child molestation cases with a focus on gathering any and all evidence that can help explain why this allegation has been made. We need to understand where it began and to whom these statements were initially made. Then we need to examine the evolution of the child’s statements as well as the adults who may have played a part in influencing the child. Whenever we encounter a false allegation, the child’s initial statements are usually made to an adult who has a bias against our client. In these cases, we also often discover that this was not the first time the child had been questioned, or it was not the first time that it was suggested to the child that our client may have done something bad.
With false allegations, we often learn that there was a long history of either suggestive questioning from an adult or what we refer to as stereotype induction – a type of suggestive influence where the child is repeatedly told that this is a bad person or is a person who could do harm to children. Repetitive questioning of a child or exposure to suggestive influences such as this have long been known to cause false allegations.
In addition to this, we approach our investigation in these cases with a focus on gathering any and all evidence that can serve to impeach the credibility of the accusers. When we refer to accusers, this will typically include not only the child but also his or her family members and friends. This entails securing DFCS records, information from social networking sites, computer records, cell phone records, school records, medical and mental health records, and beyond.
Very often, there will be particular witnesses who know nothing about the present allegations but who can shed light on the credibility or motives of the accusers. These witnesses usually prove to be the most critical witnesses to our defense. We will canvass neighborhoods as well as locate any co-workers, relatives and acquaintances who may possess this information.
Child sex crime cases are legally unique in that they involve special rules of evidence and a particularized pretrial motions practice.
For instance, under the Child Hearsay statute, the prosecution can introduce hearsay statements made by a child under 16. Normally, hearsay is not allowed.
When the police send a child for a forensic interview, it is either conducted by a police officer or a therapist at a Child Advocacy Center. This is the piece of evidence that is typically most relied upon by the prosecution to obtain an arrest warrant and to prove their case at trial.
Poorly trained interviewers will often employ improper techniques and suggestive questioning that may then produce fabricated and false allegations by the child. It is all too common to see innocent people arrested and charged as a result of these interviews.
In every child molestation case we handle, we work with one of the nation’s leading experts in the field of forensic interview techniques. Our goal is to educate the prosecution, or a jury, if necessary, about the proper way in which these interviews should be conducted. With the assistance of our expert, we are able to pinpoint how the poorly conducted interview contributed to the false allegations against our client.
Read more about how expert testimony helped us prove that suggestibility and improper interview techniques led to our client being falsely accused of molesting his stepdaughter.
If a case involves an alleged injury to a child, Georgia law allows us to conduct a pretrial deposition of the doctor who treated or examined the child.
This is a critical procedure in Georgia that many defense attorneys overlook. We have obtained dismissals and acquittals in child molestation cases as a result of these depositions as we are able to uncover other causes of a child’s apparent injuries (click here for an example).
Again, these cases are unique and involve specialized trial preparation strategies.
We use jury consultants and conduct focus groups and mock trials to help us develop and fine-tune our defense in the event that we need to present it at a jury trial. Jury selection in child molestation cases is a delicate matter. Having a team that is experienced in selecting a jury in these cases can make all the difference at trial.
Bernard worked with me and my family to get bogus child molestation charges dropped against my son. He had a very short window to make this happen, he dedicated himself to my son’s case and worked diligently with me to make sure he did not spend 30 years in prison for a crime that he did not commit.