Prosecutors Reconsider Plea to Non-Criminal Offer in Sex Abuse Case Involving Client with Borderline Mental Retardation

“Jeremy wasn’t just ‘there’ for us 24/7, his experience and character shined when we needed it most.” – Father of client accused of Sex Abuse and Forcible Touching.

When people learn that as a criminal defense attorney I represent clients accused of sexual offenses including Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Misconduct, and Forcible Touching, the response is often some form of questioning of how I can represent such people along with an assumption of my client’s guilt. While there are times when the evidence of wrongdoing is strong, there are other times when claims are false in part or in whole. Accept it or not, the fact is that false claims of Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Misconduct, and Forcible Touching do happen. Whether it is .005% or far greater or much less, when you are the accused, it is of no consequence. It matters not what the percentages are or what has happened to somebody else. What matters is if the allegation made against you was weaponized to punish you out of anger or jealousy, used to facilitate a favorable outcome in a separate legal proceeding or other dispute, is born from regret, or is intentionally or accidentally false for any number of reasons.

Ultimately, no matter the accusation, maintaining your innocence is what is of the greatest, if not sole, import. That is why as a New York trial attorney, I take great pride in having secured acquittals after trial in the most serious of criminal accusations including Kidnapping and, only a few months ago, Sex Abuse. Simply stated, there is no better reward than exonerating a wrongfully accused client as I have in Title IX proceedings, Family Court petitions relating to Orders of Protection, and criminal investigations and arrests.

The above aside, there are cases that do not fall into the category of false allegations nor mandate a trial. In fact, most of them do not. Instead, mitigating conduct or poking holes in the legal or evidentiary foundation of a claim is the best and most appropriate means to resolve a case. These matters can be the most difficult as you are not necessarily arguing an event did not occur, but there is another reason why prosecutors should review an accusation in a manner more favorable to our client. One recent case highlights how these matters can be challenging and how diligence and effort in presenting compelling mitigating factors can lead to the right and appropriate disposition.

Client with Borderline Mental Retardation Arrested for Sex Abuse & Forcible Touching

Prosecuted by a New York City District Attorney’s Office, our client, charged with Sex Abuse and Forcible touching, was arrested for placing his hands on the breasts of a woman without her permission. There was a further claim that after doing so, our client tried to do it again immediately thereafter and possibly reached towards another intimate area. On its face, the case against our client was strong just as it outwardly appeared that our client was well aware of his actions and was just an average twenty something year old person who simply acted on his own self desires. What prosecutors did not know, however, was that our client had a documented history of not only mental health issues but, more importantly, a very low IQ and other issues that resulted in his cognitive impairment and borderline mental retardation.

Upon providing medical corroboration these factors and bringing our client in to meet the prosecutor pursuant to a proffer agreement so she could interact with him firsthand, the District Attorney’s Office did not dismiss the case but offered our client a non-criminal Disorderly Conduct. This violation ensured our client’s record remained clean and the criminal history of the case would eventually seal. Although easy to summarize here, conveying the magnitude of our client’s issues that led to his arrest was a far more arduous task especially where a complainant may not support such a significant downward departure from the top charge.

The above types of cases do not exist on an island and comes on the heels of a similar accusation involving an above the clothes touching of a woman’s breasts by another Saland Law client with far more severe cognitive limitations and disabilities. In that matter, we convinced the NYPD not to arrest our client after providing corroboration of his autism and related impairment that rendered him almost infantile and incapable of fully grasping his conduct.

Everyone Deserves the Presumption of Innocence, Just as We All Do

Just like a former client who was wrongfully suspended by her NYC college after a false accusation of rape by her former partner and later exonerated by Saland Law upon establishing her accuser, who was then punished by the school, was found to be the actual abuser, whether an allegation leads to an arrest and prosecution, an Article 8 Family Court Order of Protection petition, or an investigation in the context of collegiate Title IX case, each one of us deserves the same due process rights and presumption of innocence no matter the nature accusation.

Saland Law is a New York City law firm representing clients in criminal, Title IX, and Family Court, investigations, actions, hearings, and trials throughout New York State. Saland Law was founded by Jeremy Saland, a former Manhattan prosecutor serving in Robert Morgenthau’s Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

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