Special Sex Crime Prosecution Unit

Over the last twenty-five years, I've handled many rape cases in all the Los Angeles courts, especially the Van Nuys court. This court is about five or ten minutes from my office, so I get a lot of cases there; plus, I'm very well-known in the San Fernando Valley, and Van Nuys court handles most of the cases in this general area.

It's all divided up by jurisdiction, so if somebody commits or allegedly commits rape in the San Fernando Valley, there is a special sex crime prosecution unit that is located in the civil building of the Van Nuys court.

Rape Cases in California - Penal Code 261 PC

I go there all the time because to get discovery, I have to go into this particular court and talk to the prosecutors there. There are a lot of specially assigned sex crime prosecutors that work in the court and deal with these rape cases. When it comes to a rape case, what you're looking at as a criminal defense attorney is a SART exam done, which means a sexual assault kit is down at a local hospital.

A nurse practitioner is usually involved, and basically, they're assessing whether there is DNA that they can test to get some sort of evidence that sex was had or some physical contact. They'll also be looking for semen when they do these rape kits. These SART exams are essential. Sometimes you can use experts to attack the SART exams in a rape case.

Pretext Phone Call to Record Conservation

Also, we're looking for what they'll usually do: a pretext phone call in these rape cases where the alleged victim will call the suspect or the defendant in a suit, and the police will tape-record the conversation. The police will give them specific questions regarding the alleged rape, and then depending on how the person answers those questions; then the questions can be used against the person in the prosecution of the sex crime case.

This is another thing we always deal with: pretext phone calls and how they relate to the alleged rape case. Other pieces of evidence used are witnesses, any video evidence that might be available, statements from the alleged victim, and statements from the defendant.

So, when it comes to these rape cases, the prosecutors use a whole slew of different things to prosecute them. As defense attorneys, we have to be ready to counter some of those things because many times in these rape cases, people are drunk, intoxicated, or on drugs.

Then they wake up in the morning, and all of a sudden, they somehow think they've been raped, and yet there's no evidence to prove that. Penal Code 289 PC defines the crime of sexual penetration with a foreign object.

How Can You Defend Yourself If Charged with Rape?

This is a pretty good question because with the “me too” movement and all of these different groups attacking individuals who are claiming that they didn't sexually assault somebody if you're charged with rape or any sex crime, you're automatically pigeon-holed, and there's a stigma against you.

How Can You Defend Yourself If Charged with Rape?

You're assumed to be guilty.  So, somebody who's charged with rape is asking themselves, how do I defend myself? So, even if you're innocent – you didn't do the crime – just being charged with it is a problem.

Step one is hiring the best attorney you can find.  Your attorney is going to be your champion.  Your attorney will be the one who helps you strategize what you're going to do.

Your attorney is going to be the one that executes the plan that either gets you that not guilty verdict at a jury trial or helps you work out some resolution to save your life, to keep you out of prison for an extended period, and all of the other bad things that come along with a rape conviction.

You have to set up a meeting with the attorney. Then, what I have you do is come into the office. Then, we will discuss what direction we will take in this case. 

I encourage you to be honest with me. Otherwise, we won't be able to figure out the best course of action.  Once we meet, we decide what we're going to do.  Our legal options include the following:

  • We're going to fight the case, we're going to investigate it, we're going to file motions, we're going to get ready for trial, or
  • We will mitigate the case and try to work out a resolution that helps save your life and put the pieces back together.

That's step one. Get your game plan together.  Step two is to start looking for the problems with the prosecutor's case.  Whether you're innocent or whether you're guilty, there are always some issues in these cases. 

Once we identify the weaknesses in the case, we have to take steps to exploit them by way of investigation, by way of experts, and finally, many times, I do the preliminary hearing in the case. 

That's where they've got to call witnesses to prove the case, and we attack the witnesses' credibility.  We attack the weaknesses in their case. So that does one of two things:

  • It either damages the case so bad that they have to dismiss it, or it sets it up to be destroyed at an upcoming trial, or
  • It points to problems with the prosecutor's case that can be used to work out a resolution.

The final piece of the puzzle in defending these rape cases is, putting our plan together – executing the plan, taking things step by step, and setting up your defense the right way so that you feel comfortable knowing we will do everything possible can to help you.

Defenses to Rape – Penal Code 261

Consent is an issue in these rape cases – whether they consented to have sexual intercourse with another person. So, suppose you are being charged with rape. In that case, you want to get an attorney who is local to court and has handled rape cases there and knows how to deal with the prosecutors there, knows how to deal with the judges there, who take these cases very seriously, and knows how to get the result that you're looking for.

When I handle these rape cases, I have you come in, sit down, and talk about the case. We decide on how we're going to proceed moving forward – whether we're going to fight the case at a jury trial or whether we're going to try to resolve the case by way of a negotiated plea.

Suppose it's a negotiated plea when it comes to a rape case. In that case, I'm going to have to meet with the boss, the head sex crime prosecutor, or the boss of the courthouse, again depending on the facts of the case and what the best strategy is moving forward in your rape-related offense. 

So, make the phone call. Set up the meeting with me. We'll go over everything. We'll see what type of physical evidence the prosecutors have. We'll see what you have to say about it so we can get the other side of the story because a lot of times in these rape cases when it comes to a Van Nuys court prosecution, there's a very one-sided report taken by the police.

It has all the statements of the alleged victim. Still, none of the statements of the defendant or the defendant's statements have been mischaracterized, and the defendant hasn't been asked all the complete questions relating to a good investigation.

It's my job as a defense attorney to get the prosecutors to see what they've got here as far as this rape case goes or to get a jury to know that you're not guilty of the offense, or it's a situation where we need to do damage control. We need to keep you out of prison, try to get a probationary sentence, or mitigate some of the bad things that can happen to you in rape cases.

How to Get a Not Guilty Verdict in an Attempted Rape Case?