Question: My stepdaughter accused of me of molesting her (I’m innocent!!).  Now, my wife refuses to talk to me and even kicked me out of my own house. I have never gotten along well with my stepdaughter, which is probably why she accused me of doing something I didn’t do!  There is no physical evidence since I am innocent, so it will be her word against mine. What should I do?

The first thing to do when you are accused of a crime in Utah is to hire a qualified attorney to help defend you in the legal system. Prosecutors charge sexual offenses seriously and aggressively aim for the most severe penalty. You want to hire the best Utah defense attorney when your freedom is on the line.

Because you are innocent, you are correct in assuming that this will be a “he said, she said” ordeal. The credibility of the victim and you will be the most important thing to the jury.  A juror will most probably believe the witness who seems to be the most credible. Jurors may be swayed toward the victim’s side by feelings of sympathy rather then closely examine the evidence to determine the outcome.

You have two options:

  1. Fight the Charge.  Prosecutors go to trial with the evidence they have.  A good prosecutor will only go to trial if they know they can win.  Unfortunately, not all prosecutors are that smart and will try to “scare” you into a plea deal when they know they don’t have a good case.  A good attorney will be able to look at your situation and tell you if you have a good change of winning at trial. Before trial, your attorney should file motions in order to get you the fairest trial.  These motions will limit the evidence that the prosecutors can use. Many times, because of these motions, prosecutors will not have enough evidence to bring your case to trial.  This is why it is essential that you hire a qualified attorney with experience in trying your kind of case. The prosecution has the burden to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  If your attorney convinces the jury that there is reasonable doubt in your case, then the jury should render a not-guilty verdict.
  2. Plea Bargain. Sometimes it is the best option to take a favorable plea agreement when a very harsh punishment seems likely if convicted at trial. Only a well qualified attorney will be able to examine of your case and help you decide if a plea bargain is the best option.

Overview: if you are accused of a sexual crime in Utah, it is very important to find a qualified attorney who will protect your rights.