Recently I had lunch with a bunch of real estate business men and women at a local economic club luncheon. At first, I felt like a fish out of water. I’m a criminal defense attorney who specializes in defending criminal sexual conduct cases. Professionally, it felt like we had nothing in common. Then I realized we have a lot in common. We have spouses, children, significant others, and close friends. I handed out a few of my cards, which clearly state I specialize in criminal defense. These are all men and women who have probably never been in trouble before, and probably have never been accused of criminal sexual conduct, a DUI, or a crime of any sort. They’ve most likely never needed a criminal lawyer; and they cannot imagine ever needing one. But I frequently tell people in their situation: Someday, you WILL need me.
In our culture and society today, thousands of innocent persons are falsely accused of criminal sexual conduct, possession or distribution of child sexually abusive material, and accosting a minor for immoral purposes. Here are three recent examples of clients who never imagined they would ever need a criminal lawyer like me:
- Client #1 – Charges: criminal sexual conduct 3rd degree; assault with intent to commit criminal sexual penetration; criminal sexual conduct 4th degree.
Synopsis: A teenage boy attends a party, where he ends up having consensual sex with a teenage girl. When her dad finds her cell phone the next day, she accuses the boy of rape. The boy and his parents meet with me. I advised him to avoid speaking to the police (It’s never a good idea). The young man and his parents were incredulous and shocked by the accusation. They could not believe he was even charged with criminal sexual conduct 3rd degree; criminal sexual conduct 4th degree; and assault with intent to commit sexual penetration.
The Verdict: My client’s case went all the way to jury trial and was found not guilty on all charges.
Moral of the Story: 1. Don’t talk to the police; 2. Hire a criminal defense attorney like me to defend you before charges are filed; 3. Don’t be afraid to go to trial to clear your name.
- Client #2 – Charges: possession/distribution of child sexually abusive material
Synopsis: Juvenile client receives a nude photo from a juvenile classmate on his cell phone. The boy asks the girl to send him a photo. The girl’s parents find out that her photo may be circulating around school. The boy’s parents are contacted by the police, who insist the boy is not in any kind of trouble. The boy and his parents don’t consult with a lawyer beforehand, and decide to take the boy—and his cell phone—to the police. After the police promise the boy he won’t be in any trouble, the boy’s parents encourage him to confess and turn over his cell phone. Contrary to the officer’s assurances, the boy is charged with possession/distribution of child sexually abusive material. His family hires me. I successfully get all sexually abusive material charges dropped in exchange for a non-sexual offense and keep the kid off the sex offender registry.
Moral of the Story: Don’t talk to the police. Don’t voluntarily turn over evidence to the police. Don’t trust the police when they say you’re not in any kind of trouble, or that you will be treated more fairly or equitably if you cooperate.
- Client #3 – criminal sexual conduct 3rd degree; accosting a minor for immoral purposes.
Synopsis: Adult client is accused of criminal sexual conduct and accosting a minor for immoral purposes. Accusers wait several years before notifying the authorities. Client contacts me for advice before he is charged. I advise the police he will not be making a statement. The case is still pending. A trial date is set for May 14th.
Moral of the Story: say nothing to the police. What you say to them can only hurt you.
In summary, we all need a criminal defense lawyer who specializes in defending criminal sexual conduct cases. Far too often, people think they can explain their way out of a situation. That’s simply not true. Additionally, people think they don’t need a lawyer if they have not been charged. It’s never too early to hire the right lawyer—but it could be too late. Someday, either you, a loved one, or a good friend WILL need me.
Patrick William O’Keefe is one of only two board certified criminal trial attorneys in the state of Michigan. He specializes in defending criminal sexual conduct and child sexually abusive material cases for adult and juvenile clients. He maintains offices in Lansing and Okemos, and practices all over the state of Michigan, in both federal and state courts.