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General Practitioners - Should They Take on Sex Crime Cases?

While many defense attorneys consider themselves “General Practitioners,” typically the caveat is that they chose not to handle Sex Crimes cases. Typically, a “General Practitioner” handles any type of case that comes their way. However, when it comes to sex crimes, there is a negative stigma attached to taking on those cases. The overall feeling amongst defense attorneys is that sex crime cases, specifically criminal sexual conduct, are too dificult to win, have facts that cannot be stomached, involve topics that they don’t feel comfortable defending and penalties that are insurmountable. While many defense attorney’s may have personal experiences in their life that truely preclude them from being able to defend sex cases, the number of general practioners that are willing to take on sex crimes is dwindling and dwindling.

Often times, general practitioners have zero experience in handling sex crime cases, yet they decide to take them on. By doing that, a general practitioner is doing a disservice to the individual being accused of a sex crime. It's equivalent to having a doctor who is a general practitioner do heart surgery as opposed to a cardiologist. If you are having issues with your heart, of course, you go see a cardiologist as opposed to your general practitioner because the cardiologist is more equipped to properly and successfully assist you. Just like with the law, if you are being charged with a sex crime, a lawyer who focuses on sex crimes will more likely be equipped to properly and successfully assist a client accused of sex crimes.

If a general practioner is considering taking on a sex case, prior to taking on the sex case, a genreal practioner must make sure they are familiar with how to handle sex cases. Although sex cases should be handled the same way as any other case, ie. plug in the elements, to be successful in properly handling a sex case, special knowledge and experience is required. There are certain areas of the law that pertain specifically to sex crimes and must be well understood prior to accepting a sex crime case. For example, a general practitioner should be well versed in “Other Acts” Motions, Child Advocacy Center’s role in a sex crime, the penalties and possible mandoatory-minimums that apply, depending on the state it occurred.

In order to assist in determining if a general practitioner should take on a case which involves allegations of sex crimes, its imperative to be honest with yourself and the potential client. Ask the following questions of yourself and if your answer is “NO” to any one of them, then sex crimes may not be right for you. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you comfortable questioning a child? A number of sex crime cases involve children under the age of thirteen. It takes a skilled attorney to be able to effectively and appropriately cross examine a child. Not to mention, the

subject matter itself is not an easy topic to cross examine any witness on, let alone a child.

  • Are you comfortable looking at compromising pictures, videos or objects related to sex and private parts? You have to have the ability to separate your emotions from the facts of the case, which for most people is difficult to do. Nobody wants to watch a video of a child doing sexual acts to an adult or see pictures of a child in compromising psoitions, otherwise known as child pornography. However, to be an effective attorney these are the types of things that are required.
  • Are you comfortable taking the time to understand all the nuances that come along with handling sex crime cases? There is no such thing as, just another sex crime case. Sex crime cases involve areas of the law that are not commonly explored when handling any other type of crime. The general practioner who accepts a sex crimes case has to be committed to becoming familiar with the specific laws that apply in your state related to sex crimes.

There is no doubt that handling a case that involves charges of a sexual nature may be tough and pull on your personal heartstrings. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with accepting a sex crimes cases. So when deciding whether or not you, as a general practitioner, should handle sex crime cases, make sure to be honest with yourself and do not be afraid to ask for help from those of us who solely focus on sex crime cases.


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