Philadelphia, PA criminal defense attorney Brian Fishman talks his experience defending clients charged with sexual assault crimes.
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So I have a vast experience in handling sex assault cases and I will say that a lot of criminal defense attorneys will tell you they would rather handle a homicide than they would a sex assault case just because of the sensitive nature of those cases. And that’s especially true when there’s a child involved that’s making these allegations. I think one of the reasons that people are drawn to me in these types of cases is that I was a prosecutor in the Philadelphia district attorney’s office and before I left I worked in the family violence and sexual assault unit, which is the Philadelphia version of sort of a special victims unit that handles these types of cases. So I know the playbook from the other side. I know how they’re going to try this case. And I think having that inside track gives me the ability to attack their witness’s credibility, attack their recollection of the actual events to have success in these types of cases.
You have to remember that in sex assault cases if a woman does not report right away and doesn’t have some sort of sex assault kit done at a hospital, these cases often come down to a person’s word. Sex assault is a crime other than something that you see on Dateline that happens behind closed doors with two people that generally know each other. The exception is the jogger who’s pulled off, you know, out of the park and is raped and the DNA comes back to a guy. That’s an easy case for the prosecution. But most sex assault cases are cases where it’s an acquaintance sexual assault. And it’s not as black and white as people would first assume it is. I get a lot of people who ask me how do you represent somebody who’s charged with sexual assault? And when I tell them my clients side of the story or when I tell them all of the facts, it suddenly opens their eyes and they say, I never really thought about it that way or I never thought about somebody could come up with that story or could fabricate a sexual assault case. And I have a lot of situations where that is, in fact, the case. So I think that these are very defendable cases despite the very sensitive nature of them.