Writer Paul Haggis is the most recent Hollywood celebrity to be accused of sexual misconduct. But are the charges just backlash from the Church of Scientology?
Paul Haggis Faces Sexual Misconduct Accusations
Haggis, who won two Oscars for “Crash” in 2006, is the most recent man in Hollywood to have been accused of sexual misconduct. Three women have come forward – one with allegations of rape and two others who allege Haggis forcibly tried to kiss them.
Haggis denies the claims and suspects the Church of Scientology, which he has strongly criticized in the past, is behind the sexual misconduct allegations.
Haggis’ lawyer, Christine Lepera, said, “Mr. Haggis denies these anonymous claims in whole. In a society where one of a person’s fundamental rights is the ability to confront an accuser, that right has now been eviscerated when it comes to anyone being charged in the press with any sort of sexual misconduct . . . Mr. Haggis also questions whether Scientology has any role here, which he notes has been attacking him for years with false accusations.”
Haggis was a 30-year valued member of Scientology, but broke with the church in 2009. Since leaving the church he has become one of its harshest critics.
If you have been accused of sexual misconduct, you’ll want to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. You need an aggressive and experienced defense counsel that can evaluate the government’s evidence and develop a winning strategy to defend your good name.
Arizona Law for Sexual Offenses
Sexual offenses in Arizona (like similar offenses throughout the country) are severely penalized with long prison sentences. Once released from prison, you can expect to be supervised for a period of time. You may even need to register as a sexual offender for a number of years. This can severely impact your life and livelihood as well as your ability to get a job or continue a career.
Some common sex-related offenses in Arizona include:
- Indecent exposure. This offense requires proof that you exposed your genitals, anus, and/or breasts to another person and that other person could have been alarmed or offended. If the victim of this offense was 15 years of age or over, you are facing a prison sentence. If the victim is younger, this offense is a felony and carries a presumptive prison sentence of one year.
- Public sexual indecency. Public sexual indecency alleges that you committed an act of sexual contact, sexual intercourse or oral sex, or an act of bestiality in the presence of a victim. The “victim” need not be the person upon whom these acts are committed; instead, the victim need only be in your presence when these actions are committed and be alarmed or offended by the act.
- Sexual abuse. Sexual contact with a person over the age of 15 without that person’s consent, or sexual contact with the breast of a victim under the age of 15, is sexual abuse. The presumptive prison sentence for this offense can range from 18 months to 42 months depending on the age of the victim.
- Sexual assault. Sexual assault is sometimes referred to as rape and involves having sexual intercourse or oral sex with another person without that person’s consent. A first offense can be punished by a presumptive sentence of 7 years; additional convictions can raise this presumption to nearly 16 years in prison.
- Sexual Conduct with a Minor and Child Molestation. When adult engages in sexual conduct with a minor – the adult can be charged with a crime – even if the minor consented. Depending on the nature of the sexual conduct, the penalties can be severe and include prison and/or lifetime probation and registration as a sex-offender.
What You Can Do
If you are accused of sexual misconduct you’ll want and need to take the following steps:
- Realize what you are facing. All too often those who are accused do not realize the severity of what is occurring. As a result, the allegations are minimized. This can have serious consequences that can lead to even greater problems and legal issues down the line.
- Collect all evidence you have. When you are falsely accused of sexual misconduct you will need to take any precaution you can as well as gather as much evidence as possible. Start putting together a list of what your accuser is saying as well as any evidence that could refute those allegations. This includes putting together a timeline, a list of witnesses, and any other evidence you can find.
- Work with a criminal defense lawyer that has experience in defending sexual misconduct cases.
Why Work with a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
A criminal defense lawyers jobs are numerous and involve much of the following:
- Work with their client and a prosecutor to negotiate a “deal,” also known as a”plea bargain.” This can often reduce a potential sentence or eliminate some or all of the charges brought against someone.
- Figure out a good sentencing program for his or her clients.
- Help walk clients through the legal system.
- Provide a reality check for clients because they are able to remain objective during all criminal proceedings.
- Educate a client about the legal rules and regulations that he or she faces, including laws and what is considered lawful versus illegal.
- Able to gather evidence and statements from witnesses as well as conduct thorough investigations regarding the reasons behind the charges that have been brought against a client.
Criminal law covers a wide variety of topics, including DUI defense, petty theft, drug crimes, grand theft, and sex crimes just to name a few. If you have been accused of any form of crime, it is always advised that you work with a criminal law attorney like the ones at Ferragut Law Firm.
Because the average person does not have an understanding of the criminal justice process, which comprises a number of complex state and federal laws, it’s always advised that you work with a criminal defense lawyer.
Criminal defense lawyers assist clients as their case moves through the criminal justice process, from pre-trial and through the conclusion of the trial proceedings. In some cases, when a client suspects that they might be charged with a crime a client will make the decision to retain a lawyer before they have even been charged. If you have been involved in a criminal incident and have suspicions that you might need a lawyer, it’s best to hire one as quickly as possible as they will be able to provide you with guidance on how to proceed. The earlier an attorney is involved in a case, the more protection they can offer, and even at times ensure that a suspect does not divulge any potentially incriminating information.
A criminal defense lawyer will also be able to advise a client on if a case can even be brought against their client. In cases where there is insufficient evidence, a lawyer’s main objective will be to have the court drop the charges against a client. There are many avenues of defense that a lawyer can apply, including challenging probable cause, persuading a court to reduce or waive bail, and negotiating a plea bargain to reduce charges to a lesser crime or reduce sentencing.
The role of a criminal defense lawyer will be entirely based on the case that is presented and the type of defense that a client needs. Obtaining the help of a criminal defense lawyer early on in your case can mean the difference between guilty and not guilty.
Ferragut Law Firm Will Defend You
Ferragut Law Firm is a top rated criminal defense law firm based in Phoenix Arizona. We are dedicated exclusively to the practice of criminal law in all state, federal, and city courts throughout the State of Arizona.
Our mission is to achieve the best possible results for our clients through hard work, attention to detail, and aggressive advocacy, while maintaining the highest level of professionalism, integrity, and ethical standards.
We are committed to providing the most aggressive, professional, and effective representation for our clients accused of crimes to ensure that their legal rights are protected and that the best possible results are achieved. Contact us to discuss the details of your case.
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