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Twitter tweet @maxlawnv Marc Saggese linkedin profile The Law Offices of Saggese & Associates Facebook page. Like us. "Ask a Lawyer" is a Las Vegas Review-Journal weekly column by Marc Saggese. For a free consultation, contact our firm.

SEXUAL ASSAULT

Sexual assault, or rape, is one of the most serious offenses in the state of Nevada, carrying a penalty of up to life in prison. False accusations of sexual assault are not rare occurrences. In fact, an organization known as the Innocence Project has exonerated over one hundred people who were falsely accused of rape throughout the nation with the use of DNA evidence. Most of those accusations involved victims of rape who misidentified the defendant as the culprit. When defending a sexual assault allegation where the identity of the perpetrator is in question, a skilled defense team can present evidence, through expert testimony, that shows why an accuser might falsely believe that the defendant is the perpetrator. This will allow the defense to argue why an accuser who appears confident may, in fact, be mistaken.

Some sexual assault allegations are completely fraudulent and are designed to destroy the life and reputation of the accused. Jealousy, a bitter divorce or child custody dispute, shame, or regret can motivate someone to make a false sexual allegation. A defense team retained early in the proceedings can retain evidence to expose a biased motivation for making an allegation. Accusers often leave information in the form of emails, texts messages, and Facebook posts exposing their biases or showcasing their lack of trauma within days or even hours of when they claim to have been assaulted.

 Additionally, an experienced defense team can examine the quality of the medical and scientific evidence upon which the prosecution relies when making an accusation. If there is no physical evidence to substantiate the allegations, this will complement your defense team’s ability to point out the likelihood that the allegation is fraudulent. If you are accused of sexual assault, it is critical to retain counsel immediately to secure an avenue of defense before the evidence is destroyed or a misstep is made.

If the alleged victim is under the age of 16, the State will seek an enhanced charge of sexual assault on a minor, which carries an even more severe penalty. When facing an allegation of a sexual offense on a minor, it is even more important to secure competent counsel immediately. This is so because parents or other adults commonly will influence a young person’s memory or imagination by suggesting answers to questions that strengthen a prosecution, while minimizing those that favor the defense. It is for this reason that acquiring a lawyer early in the case is critical so that statements made to counselors, police, victim’s advocates, as well as on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter can be preserved and the inconsistencies exposed if the accuser’s memory is later manipulated by someone with an agenda.

A man is pinning a woman against the wall, against her will. The woman looks terrified. The man looks crazed.

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