Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

How to Respond if You Have Been Charged With a Massachusetts Sex Crime

An ex-cardinal was recently arraigned on assault and battery charges in a Dedham District Court. During a hearing, the cardinal pleaded not guilty and was ordered to return to the courthouse for a pretrial hearing with several conditions set for his release. The cardinal was required to pay a $5,000 cash bail, to have no contact with the alleged victim or anyone else under the age of 18, not to leave the United States, and to surrender his passport. The cardinal was also warned that if he is charged with a criminal offense at any time until his pretrial hearing, he could be incarcerated.  

The cardinal is the first former or current cardinal in the United States to have been criminally charged with sexual abuse. The charge is connected to the cardinal’s sexual assault of a 16-year-old boy during a 1974 wedding reception. While the charges in question are from 50 years ago, Massachusetts law permits the accuser to pursue charges for the sexual offense. The statute of limitations for criminal cases in Massachusetts was established to “toll” or pause when offenders are out of state. Because the cardinal never lived in Massachusetts, the statute of limitations does not apply to his case. In most cases, the statute of limitations for battery on a person over 14 as well as indecent assault in Massachusetts is six years, which begins at the time that a victim turns 16. 

If you are facing sex crime charges, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about how to proceed. Many people will assume that you are guilty of this criminal offense even before you begin to defend against these charges. Remember that you are assumed to be innocent until proven guilty. If you have been charged with a sexual offense, there are some important steps that you should remember to follow as some things you should definitely not do. 

Speak to Someone You Trust

Facing sexual assault allegations can substantially disrupt the life of the person who is charged. Given that these offenses carry a substantial social stigma, some people notice that individuals charged with the offenses begin to act guilty before a hearing has even occurred. In these situations, it is common for people to feel overwhelmed by these charges, which can lead to the person admitting to offenses that they did not commit or failing to take adequate steps to make sure their rights are fully protected.

Never Talk to the Alleged Victim

If you have been charged with sexual assault, avoid interacting with the witness. Not only are there often legal orders in place forbidding such contact, but chances are also high that the victim could pursue additional charges against you. 

Avoiding Tampering With Witnesses

You might inaccurately document what witnesses say, or it might end up perceived this way. If inconsistencies exist between what a witness said and what you argue they said, you might be viewed by the prosecution as modifying your story.

Contact a Knowledgeable Massachusetts Sex Crime Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with a sex crime in Massachusetts, you can end up facing serious repercussions even if you are not later convicted of the offense. Contact attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.