Prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges handle sex crime cases in Los Angeles that involve drugs and alcohol differently. The reason is that when people do not have full command of their faculties because they have taken some sort of drugs or alcohol, then that will affect both their memory and the prosecutor's ability to convict somebody.
If on the other hand, a person is claiming that they were given some sort of drugs they didn't know about, such as a roofie or Hypnol, then that's a different type of case, which is handled by special prosecutors in downtown LA. You're going to want to get a very sophisticated defense lawyer to defend you in that circumstance.
Cases that involve drugs and alcohol happen all the time. They are probably the majority of sex crime cases that are filed. You need to get an attorney who is experienced, who's dealt with these cases in LA County, who knows how to defend them, and who knows how to point out the problems when people use drugs and alcohol, and then try and piece together what happened. Instead of piecing together good solid detailed information, they are making guesses and speculating, and trying to get somebody in trouble for a crime a lot of times they didn't commit.
What Role Does Evidence And Witnesses Play In A Sex Crime Case?
Most sex crime cases that I see do not involve experts and do not involve forensic evidence because it's basically a one-on-one situation—one person's claiming one thing, and one person is claiming another thing.
There are a number of different factors that are utilized in order to attack the credibility of an alleged victim in that circumstance. However, there are cases that do involve DNA, experts, and forensic evidence. In that situation, typically what I like to do, and what you need to do if the prosecutors are relying on forensic evidence and experts, is have the defense get their own experts—somebody who knows what they are doing, who has experience, and can challenge the prosecutor's experts. If you go in there against the prosecutor's experts and you have no expert, you are going to be in a very difficult position.
However, if you can get your own expert to refute some evidence and the prosecutor's experts, especially in DNA cases, then you are in a very strong position. I have a DNA case right now, where my client is alleged to have done something to evict them in a case.
When you first look at the evidence, the DNA looks unbelievable. But then once our DNA expert looked at it, they said, “Wait a minute. First of all, this DNA is not very strong; it's a very weak finding. There are multiple DNAs found here, and there are a number of different reasons why this DNA could be here that are innocent.”
You definitely want to get an attorney who is familiar with this type of defense, when it comes to forensic and experts in sex crime cases, and you want to get an attorney who knows how to use experts to defend these types of cases.
What Do You Look For When Interviewing A Jury For A Sex Crime Case?
Fortunately, LA is very fair when it comes to interviewing juries. We do the voir dire, which is where the judge and the lawyers ask questions to potential jurors. You really want somebody who is going to be fair and keep an open mind.
Everybody has their own history and their own baggage that they bring along. You don't want somebody who has strong views on sex crimes because something has happened to them because that might cloud their judgment, and that might prevent them from being fair.
I am looking for people that are going to keep an open mind, that are going to listen to all the evidence, and that are going to be fair in the end and make the prosecutors prove their case. We want somebody who will agree with me during the voir dire, that if the prosecutors do not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, then they won't have a problem finding my client not guilty.
What Restrictions Does A Registered Sex Offender Face In California?
There are a number of different restrictions when it comes to having to register as a sex offender. These restrictions depend on what type of a crime you committed, and what category you find yourself in, in relation to sex registration.
There is also a legislation that's going on right now to make it a tiered system, where depending on what the particular sex crime is, you will be limited in doing certain things. We don't want to lump everybody together. The more serious the sex crime, the more restrictions there is going to be.
The type of restrictions for the most serious offenders include having their picture and information on the Internet and being restricted to staying out of public locations such as parks, and other areas where a lot of people are. There are other restrictions where they cannot be around minors. It depends on the circumstances of their conviction, what type of a resolution they negotiated, or what the judge sentenced them to.
It's going to depend on how this new legislation takes effect—hopefully the new legislation will make it very clear, and define exactly what people who have to register as sex offenders in Los Angeles County can and can't do.