Accusations of sexual assault or abuse are legal matters that should never be taken lightly. Whether the statements are true or not, the fact is they can do serious damage to a person’s reputation, family, community standing and future.

However, while it can feel like you have already been found guilty, the fact is you are innocent until proven otherwise. In order to prove otherwise and avoid conviction and further damage to your life, you work with an attorney familiar with defending against allegations of sexual assault.

There are many different strategies when it comes to criminal defense and the appropriate one will depend on the details of an individual case. However, very broadly speaking, there are a few defenses that are more common.

  • You didn’t do it: In many cases, people defend themselves by claiming they were not involved in any unlawful act. It may be a case of mistaken identity the alleged victim may not be telling the truth. In either case, it can be possible to prove you are innocent.
  • It was consensual: It is not unusual for these claims to boil down to one person’s word against another’s; or he-said, she-said. While you may have engaged in a sexual act with the accuser, you may believe that all parties involved did so willingly while the other person is saying it was against his or her will. Avoiding a conviction based on this defense involves challenging the other person’s character or memory while building up your own.
  • You didn’t know it was wrong: Generally speaking, ignorance of the law is not a viable defense. However, if you were unaware that you were assaulting someone or breaking the law due to a mental defect or illness, a defense based on mental incapacity may be appropriate.

Again, every case is different and should be examined individually before a defense strategy is determined. Discussing the details of your situation with your attorney will be crucial is assessing how to move forward.

Source: FindLaw.com, “Sexual Assault Defenses,” accessed on Jan. 27, 2016