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2 teens charged with sexual assault at local high school

The attorney's role in rape and sexual assault cases includes making a preliminary investigation of the facts to determine more accurately what took place and what potential defenses the criminal defendant may pursue. Sometimes, this will lead to a ready admission by the client that he is guilty of sexual assault or related offenses and wants to negotiate a plea. On other occasions, there may be some real questions of fact that come up and that may set the foundation for a defense under Arkansas criminal laws.

Two 14-year-old males were recently arrested by the Hot Springs police and charged with the forcible rape of a 16-year-old girl at the women's locker room in the field house at Lakeside High School. The girl told authorities that the two allegedly came up to her while she was in the field house and forced her into the girls locker room where they turned off the lights and sexually assaulted her. The police arrested and booked them into a juvenile detention center without bond.

Each defendant should preferably have a separate, independent criminal defense attorney. It is always possible that the two may have factual versions that differ in one respect or another, thereby creating a potential conflict for one attorney. When conducting the investigation, some questions are basic, such as did you know the victim? Was there more to it than she has stated? Does her story diverge in any respect from yours?

Time lines have to be nailed down and witnesses identified and questioned if possible. If the victim's story holds up and/or if the accused client admits to no defense, counsel will concentrate on obtaining the best resolution possible under the circumstances. One key will be to identify and develop significant mitigating circumstances recognized under Arkansas law that will convince the authorities to treat this as a juvenile offense and not an adult charge of sexual assault. The difference for the client is in the value of the young man's life, which will almost certainly be ruined if the district attorney demands and prevails with an adult prosecution.

Source: 5newsonline.com, "Two 14-Year-Olds Arrested After Rape In Hot Springs Locker Room", Feb. 29, 2016

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