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Coming up with a defense plan for sexual assault charges

Any of our New Jersey readers who have seen previous posts here know that planning a criminal defense strategy when it comes to sex crimes charges can be very difficult. In fact, when someone is facing these types of charges, any New Jersey criminal defense attorney would likely inform them that they have three basic defense options to present, if they are planning to contest the charges instead of seeking a plea agreement.

First, and perhaps most obvious, is the defense of innocence. As most people know, there are two pleas that a criminal defendant can enter when facing charges: guilty or not guilty. There is no official plea of innocence, because a criminal defendant doesn't have the burden to prove in court that he is innocent. The burden is on the prosecutor to prove the defendant is guilty, and to defeat that burden a criminal defendant needs to show that he is simply not guilty - not that he is completely innocent. When presenting an innocence defense in court, the main point is usually that the defendant has an "alibi" - he is not the person who committed the criminal offense in question because he was somewhere else at the time of the crime, and he can prove it.

Next, pleading insanity or some sort of mental capacity is available in almost all types of cases, not just in sex crimes cases. However, it should be noted that in most cases when a defendant pleads insanity the burden shifts to him to prove the mental problem - a risk that many defendants are not willing to take.

Lastly, there is what is perhaps the most common sex crimes defense strategy: consent. When a defendant takes this approach to the charges, what he is saying, essentially, is that, yes, the sexual encounter that is being alleged did indeed take place, but that the alleged victim was a willing participant in the conduct, and therefore no crime occurred.

Source: FindLaw, "Sexual Assault Defenses," accessed on Aug. 17, 2014

Source: FindLaw, "Sexual Assault Defenses," accessed on Aug. 17, 2014

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