Montana Sexual Assault

Angel, Coil & Bartlett Criminal Defense Attorneys

Angel, Coil & Bartlett is a Bozeman, Montana law firm with trial attorneys specializing in defending Montana Sexual Assault and sexual offense crimes. The attorneys at Angel, Coil & Bartlett routinely handle sex crime cases across the state of Montana. Contact our firm for more information as to how we can assist you in your case. Below are some common frequently asked questions (FAQs) we receive from our clients.

What is a Sexual Assault Charge in Montana?

Sexual Assault is the Montana law criminalizing conduct in which a person engages in any sexual contact with another person without his or her consent. Such conduct includes inappropriate sexual touching without penetration and sexual molestation. Montana law further criminalizes conduct in which a person engages in sexual contact with an individual under the age of 14 regardless of whether the individual “consented” to the sexual encounter. Montana law provides that consent is ineffective where the victim is less than 14 years old and the offender is 3 or more years older than the victim.

Why is it Important to Retain an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney?

Montana Sexual Assault defense involves unique and complicated legal issues, the understanding of medical and psychiatric evidence, governmental forensic interviewing techniques, anatomy and physiology, forensic evidence related to medical investigation examinations (sometimes referred to prejudicially as “rape kits”) and interpretation of medical evidence regarding penetration and injuries resulting from sexual contact.

At Angel, Coil & Bartlett, our attorneys have years of experience representing clients in Sexual Assault cases and keep up on the latest scientific research and trial techniques. As a client of our firm, you will benefit from our attorneys’ experience in bringing Montana Sexual Assault cases to trial, challenging unlawful police procedures and practices, analyzing and scrutinizing physical, medical and psychiatric evidence that can often point to a person’s innocence rather than guilt—in direct contrast to the opinion of the investigating detectives and officers—and negotiating favorable resolutions to your case with the prosecuting attorney.

What Should I Bring to My First Meeting With Your Office?

You should bring all of the court-related documents you have received from law enforcement and the court. This may include the charging documents (Felony Information and Affidavit of Probable Cause,) a copy of your bond conditions if you have seen a judge, and the document informing you of your next court hearing.

What are Some of the Potential Penalties for Sexual Assault?

The potential penalties for conviction of Sexual Assault are severe depending on the nature of the conduct involved and the age of the alleged victim. The following potential penalties are by no means all-inclusive. There are numerous factors that can increase or decrease the potential penalties to this charge that are too extensive for the purposes of this FAQ:

If the age of the victim is 18 years or older:

  • First conviction for sexual assault: imprisonment in the county jail for a term not to exceed 6 months or a fine not to exceed $500, or both.
  • Second conviction for sexual assault: imprisonment for a term not to exceed one year or a fine not to exceed $1,000, or both.
  • Third or subsequent conviction for sexual assault: imprisonment in the county jail for a term not to exceed 5 years or a fine not to exceed $10,000, or both.

If the age of the victim is less than 16 years old and the offender is 3 or more years older than the victim:

  • Life imprisonment or by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of not less than 4 years (unless the judge makes a written finding that there is good cause to impose a term of less than 4 years and imposes a term of less than 4 years) or more than 100 years and may be fined not more than $50,000.

If the offender inflicts bodily injury upon anyone in the course of committing sexual assault:

  • Life imprisonment or by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of not less than 4 years (unless the judge makes a written finding that there is good cause to impose a term of less than 4 years and imposes a term of less than 4 years) or more than 100 years and may be fined not more than $50,000.
Are These the Only Penalties I May Face for a Sexual Assault Conviction?

No. There are many other possible penalties you can face if you are convicted of Sexual Assault in Montana. For example, there are additional requirements for sexual offender treatment and sex offender registration. Once you meet with one of our attorneys the other possible penalties will be discussed with you in detail in addition to your possible defenses.

If I am Convicted of Sexual Assault for Conduct Punishable by a Mandatory Minimum Sentence, Will I be Subject to the Mandatory Minimum Sentence?

Not necessarily. Montana law provides exceptions to the mandatory minimum sentences for Sexual Assault. Once you have met with one of our criminal defense attorneys, the possibility of avoiding the mandatory minimum sentences will be discussed with you in addition to your possible defenses to the charged conduct.

I Didn’t Do Anything Wrong! Why Did I Get Arrested?

Defending Sexual Assault charges and other sex offenses can be challenging. Sexual Assault charges typically involve allegations of “he said, she said,” and the accused and the alleged victim are the only witnesses to the charged offense. Often the alleged victim “makes up” the allegations to seek revenge on the accused or has other ulterior motives for lying to the police. If the alleged victim or his or her parents or guardians are successful in convincing the prosecutor to charge you with a crime, you’re only option is to aggressively contest the veracity of the alleged victim’s statements and evidence in court.

Below are some common reasons that person may be falsely accused of Sexual Assault that may be pertinent to your case:

Accusations of Sexual Assault involving another adult:

Wrongful accusations are not uncommon and are made for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the accuser will later regret a consensual sexual encounter and may accuse the other out of regret or embarrassment. Sometimes the accuser, because of his or her level of intoxication, cannot fully recall that he or she provided consent to the conduct or understand that his or her behavior was consistent with consent. Other times the accusations are motivated by a desire to obtain custody of children (e.g., in marital divorce or child custody proceeding), to seek revenge for the accused ending a romantic relationship with the alleged victim, or due to the alleged victim’s psychiatric or mental health condition.

Accusations of Sexual Assault involving an alleged victim under the age of 14 where the accused and the alleged victim are three or more years of age apart but are close in age:

Motives to falsely accuse are as diverse as human nature. Ulterior motives are often present in false accusation cases where the accused and the alleged victim are close to the same age. For example, an accuser may falsely accuse an individual based on some ulterior motive, such as being rejected by his or her school crush. Other incidents may involve a parent who strongly dislikes his or her child’s boyfriend or girlfriend and is motivated to disrupt the relationship, not fully understanding the nature of the relationship or the legal ramifications of making such allegations.

A defense to this particular allegation involves establishing that the alleged victim was not actually under the age of 14 at the time of the alleged offense or that the accused is not 3 or more years older than the alleged victim. However, it is not a defense that the accused believed the child to be above the age of 14.

Accusations of Sexual Assault involving an adult and an individual under the age of 14:

Sexual Assault cases involving false accusations of child sexual abuse (sometimes referred to as “child molestation”) are among the most difficult cases in the criminal law to defend. Children garner such a high level of sympathy that prosecutors and juries cannot help but feel empathy to the child, which can interfere with their objectivity and ability to consider evidence of innocence.

Parents, guardians and persons engaging in childcare are particularly susceptible to being falsely accused of sexual abuse. Misunderstandings, ulterior motives on the part of the adult accuser, and child custody battles can often form the basis for a false accusation of sexual abuse.

Improper police investigations can often lead to tainted evidence and inadvertent or intentional manipulation of the child witness. The State often employs a child forensic examiner who interviews the child as to the alleged misconduct in an attempt to obtain a sex abuse “disclosure.” Such interviews are often unduly suggestive and/or conducted in such a manner to elicit a false disclosure of sexual abuse. This type of investigatory taint was highlighted in the infamous “McMartin Preschool case” in which the McMartin family was charged for sexually abusing children at their preschool. PBS’ Frontline provides an excellent summary of the case. According to Frontline:

As time went on, the accusations [against the McMartins] mushroomed from sexual abuse to include stories of bizarre satanic rituals, where the McMartins mutilated animals and forced the children to touch corpses, in hidden underground passageways beneath the school. No such passageways were ever found.

[The case] is still cited today as a symbol of the dangers and difficulty of using children’s testimony.

For more information, you can view Frontline’s entire article regarding the McMartin case and other problematic child sex prosecutions here. Ultimately, none the McMartin family members were convicted although one member spent five years in jail while another spent two.

Other reasons for false accusations of child sexual abuse involve, but is by no means limited by:

  • Children engaging in fantasy but reporting the fantasy as reality.
  • Children falsely accusing a person of abuse to garner attention.
  • Children falsely accusing a person as a result of a psychiatric or mental illness.
  • Parents misinterpreting a child’s innocuous statement as a disclosure of sexual abuse due to hyper-vigilance.

Simply put, child sexual abuse is a concern of every parent or guardian and such fears can lead to false accusations of sexual abuse.

What Can I Expect From Your Firm?

You can expect us to represent you at all court-related phases of your case and aggressively advocate on your behalf. Our firm has extensive experience defending Sexual Assault cases and will work with you to expose the weaknesses and misunderstandings that form the basis of the prosecutor’s case. Often support for your defense is discovered after analyzing the police officer’s written reports, child forensic interviews, audio and video recordings, or through witness interviews. We will explore all alternatives to successfully resolve your case prior to trial and, if necessary, try your case before a judge and jury.

Why Choose Our Firm?

Our Bozeman attorneys realize that the vast majority of clients arrested for Sexual Assault have little or no prior criminal history or involvement with police. Consequently, we understand the stress our clients endure when they are accused of a crime and our attorneys are committed to helping you through the process and serving as a strong advocate who is on your side. Considering that attorneys have extensive experience in this area, our attorneys are in an ideal position to look at your predicament with empathy and understanding. At Angel, Coil & Bartlett, we are committed to treating you with the respect and dignity that you deserve and look forward to serving you in your time of need.

If you are accused of committing the offense of Sexual Assault or another sex crime in Montana, contact our firm to speak to one of our criminal defense attorneys. Angel, Coil & Bartlett is comprised of a dedicated team of Montana trial lawyers committed to protecting your constitutional and legal rights and helping you navigate the Montana criminal justice system.

Call us today for a free telephone consultation with one of our attorneys and an appointment with our firm.

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What Our Clients Say

I was thoroughly impressed with Angel, Coil, and Bartlett. Even before I hired them, they were completely upfront and helpful about the merits of my particular case.  Throughout the process it became abundantly clear how indispensable their services were.  The positive outcome of my case would not have been possible without their professionalism and meticulous attention to detail.  I would recommend their services to friends and family without hesitation.

D.C.

Client of Angel, Coil & Bartlett