Bad situations happen and nobody’s protected from wrongful accusations. When you learn that you’re under investigation because someone accused you of sexual assault, you may start to panic and react immediately, by all means available, with no clear rational aim. Alberta Legal lawyers know that this is the most dangerous stage of any process: the one where people make the majority of mistakes.
Here’s what any professional sexual assault lawyer in Calgary would want you to do in that short time frame between the moment you get the news and the moment you give a lawyer a call.
Why Sexual Assault Charges are Dangerous in Canada
It’s important to remember that if you’re accused of sexual assault, whether it’s true or not true, there will likely be serious consequences. If you’re found guilty, it could include a prison sentence and/or heavy fines or court costs. It may even include losing your professional license and your rights as a citizen. It can be terrifying to think about facing this kind of a charge, but you should remain calm.
What to Do When You Get the news
In short, to help your lawyer win your case, you need to follow these steps:
- Calm down;
- Preserve all the evidence;
- Discuss a plan with your lawyer and follow it, step by step.
3 simple steps will make the whole process smoother and less expensive for you in terms of consequences, personal and financial. Sounds simple, but in practice — each step requires tremendous self-control.
Step 1: Calm Down
It may look too simple to be effective, but all you need to eliminate the initial shock is a glass of water, a couple minutes of concentration on breathing deep, and focusing on something else instead. This way you turn your nervous system into a different mode and can make more rational decisions, with less instincts and more consciousness.
It won’t help you get back to your usual business completely, but it will stop (or, at least, limit) the adrenalin flow and save you from all the unnecessary damaging actions.
Avoid Critical Mistakes
If you give up to panic — you can make truly unnecessary actions, like many do.
The list includes:
Calling the accuser or texting them
Keep in mind that any contact after the (and probably before it) will be documented, interpreted, and presented to the court in a way that the prosecutor wants it to. It doesn’t matter whether you want to yell at the accuser or ask for forgiveness: it WILL be used against you.
Unless you’re somehow reading this from the 1970s, it simply won’t work. Gone are the days of action movies where you had to smash through a border control and run away to freedom. AI-based surveillance systems, HD cameras, IDs and databases won’t let you flee even from your neighborhood, let alone city or province.
As a result, it will be considered a highly suspicious action and your chances to win the case — even if you’re right and even if you tried to run simply because you were afraid — will be significantly lower.
Step 2: Preserve the evidence
In case you have a dialog with the accuser in any messenger, social network, or other mobile or PC program — keep it. Do not delete anything. There are 2 simple reasons for it:
When you delete something — it will, most of the time, stay intact on the accuser’s account. Even if you have means to delete it for both of you — there’s always a chance that they already copied all the critical info, and your action — again — will achieve nothing but extra suspiciousness;
Every word in a mobile messenger app has multiple layers of meaning: for example — intentions, tone, and timestamps. For you it might be just a dialog, but for he prosecutor and for your sexual assault lawyer it’s a whole new area to either prove your guilt or prove the opposite. It can be a powerful tool and you should preserve it in full — not delete it.
All other evidence, including your memories with clear links to exact dates and timing, should be written down as well.
Step 3: Get a Plan or Get Back to Step 1
The most important part after you’ve gotten the news is to talk to your lawyer. It is also the most difficult one. Your sexual assault lawyer in Calgary can help you find the best solution to your problems, and yes — it will be a perfectly legal one.
If you’re in panic and don’t have time for rational thinking — you will miss all critical questions about your case. So, if you don’t feel confident enough to think of the future actions — get back to the first step.
It’s tremendously hard and it seems to be nearly impossible, but it’s the most important thing you can do before calling your lawyer: calm down.