Being accused of child molestation, a sex crime, in northern Arizona can have lifelong consequences even if you are not guilty of the crime. Arizona law lists Molestation of a Child as one of the Dangerous Crimes Against Children. It is a Class 2 felony, which carries a presumptive prison sentence of 20 years and up to a $150,000 fine. Additionally, you will have to register as a sex offender for life, and this may hinder your ability to find work or safe housing.
If you have been accused of child molestation, it is important to understand how a forensic interview works. This is one of the ways that law enforcement and the prosecutor gather evidence against you, but this can also show that you did not commit the crime.
What is Molestation of a Child?
Arizona law has a very short, specific definition Molestation of a Child. A person is guilty of child molestation if they have any sexual contact with a child under 15 years of age, or if they cause another person to have sexual contact with a child under 15 years of age.
What is a Forensic Interview?
A forensic interview is a structured conversation with the child who accused you of molesting him or her. This is the least-traumatizing way of gathering information about the incident and determining if the child is safe in the home. Although a law enforcement officer may conduct the interview, it may also be done by an advocate with specialized training.
Confirming or Refuting Allegations
Just because a report was made to law enforcement alleging that you molested a child does not mean that it actually happened. Sometimes, a manipulative adult coaches a child to make the accusation against you. This may happen in a volatile divorce or during a child custody dispute. At other times, an older child or teenager may falsely claim that molestation occurred because he or she is angry at you.
During the forensic interview, the interviewer asks the child a series of open-ended questions, and the child is allowed to describe what happened in his or her own words. The interviewer uses words the child understands and does not introduce any new terminology or try to influence the child's answers with leading questions.
The interviewer will ask questions about what was happening in the child's life at the time of the alleged molestation. This helps determine if the child has been coached or had a reason to lie to law enforcement.
Have You Been Accused of Child Molestation in Arizona?
If you have been charged with Molestation of a Child in Northern Arizona including Coconino, Yavapai, Mohave, or La Paz counties, contact the defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp today. This is a very serious charge that can permanently damage your standing in your community without effective legal intervention. Our defense attorneys understand how frustrating and embarrassing this accusation can be, and we will build the strongest case for you. Call today at (928) 793-6868 or contact us online.