Why do Children Make False Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse?

It’s a myth that children rarely make false accusations of child sexual abuse. There are usually four factors involved when a child makes false accusations of child sexual abuse: the child, the accused, parents or other authority figures, and the child’s home environment.

The child’s personality and his or her physical and mental health all have to be considered. A child may have a conduct or personality disorder where lying is a serious issue. False accusations can be a way to seek attention. A preteen or teenager may be out of control. A child’s drug or alcohol abuse can also lead to false accusations. Similarly, a child may have a physical or mental illness where his or her perception of reality is compromised. Adverse reactions to medications such as Celexa, Paxil, Zyprexa, Lithium, Ritalin, or other psychotropic medication can be a factor.

The person accused also has to be considered. A child may resent or hate a parent’s new significant other or step parent so much that he or she could falsely accuse that person. An accused’s mental illness or drug or alcohol abuse may also provoke false accusations. Other immoral behavior, such as an accused’s affair, may trigger false accusations.

Parents or other authority figures like teachers, doctors, therapists, and social workers can ask the child suggestive and leading questions that lead to false accusations. Therapists may intentionally cause the child to have false memories of sexual abuse. A parent who abuses drugs or alcohol or who is mentally ill may falsely believe that their child has been sexually abused by the accused and go straight to the police.

The child’s home environment must also be examined. A home environment that is chaotic, unstable, and/or overcrowded may contribute to false accusations. A contentious child custody dispute may result in false accusations as one parent, usually the mother, plays the winning card of falsely accusing the father in order to obtain sole custody. Long, bitter divorce proceedings as well as prior sexual abuse within the family can contribute to false accusations. Preteens and teens may lie in order to change their living situations.

If you have been charged with sex crimes against a child based on false accusations, you need an experienced defense attorney to represent you. Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over three decades of experience representing people in these situations. Please call him today for a free consultation.

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Setting Aside Criminal Convictions

Having criminal convictions on your record can keep you from getting a job, finding housing, using federal benefits, and getting loans.  A.R.S. § 13-907 is the Arizona statute that permits a judge to set aside criminal convictions. https://www.azleg.gov/viewdocument/?docName=https://www.azleg.gov/ars/13/00907.htm   

A.R.S. § 13-907(A) provides that a person who has been convicted of a criminal offense may apply to the judge to have the judgment of guilt set aside.  If the judge grants the application, the accusations or information are dismissed and the person is released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction except those imposed by the Arizona Department of Transportation and Arizona Game and Fish Commission according to A.R.S. § 13-907(C).  The person’s right to possess a gun or firearm is restored unless he or she was convicted of a serious offense as defined by A.R.S. § 13-706.  See A.R.S. § 13-907(D).

A person cannot apply to set aside a criminal conviction if one or more of the following apply:

  • The criminal conviction involved a dangerous offense defined in A.R.S. § 13-105(13) as an offense involving the discharge, use or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person.
  • The criminal conviction required the person or the court ordered the person to register as a sex offender pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-3821.
  • The criminal conviction was found to have a sexual motivation pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-118.
  • The criminal conviction involved a victim under fifteen years of age.
  • The criminal conviction concerned a local city ordinance relating to stopping, standing or operation of a vehicle in violation of A.R.S. § 28-3473 which makes it a misdemeanor to drive on a suspended license.
  • The criminal conviction concerned a violation of Title 28, chapter 3, except a violation of A.R.S. § 28-693 or any local ordinance relating to the same subject matter as A.R.S. § 28-693.  Title 28, chapter 3 deals with traffic and vehicle regulation which are usually civil offenses. A.R.S. § 28-693 prohibits reckless driving.

The judge who sentenced you or his/her replacement has discretion concerning whether or not to grant your application.  Ideally, your application shows that you have had no further trouble with the law and are a productive member of society.

An application to set aside your criminal convictions is an important step that should not be taken lightly.  You need an experienced attorney to prepare your application. Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over three decades of experience.  Please call him today for a free consultation.

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Planet Defendant: Double Jeopardy Clause

Being charged with a crime can feel like being transported to another world called Planet Defendant.  Like all worlds, Planet Defendant has its own customs and procedures that one should learn. An important custom and procedure on Planet Defendant is called double jeopardy.

The concept of double jeopardy is found in the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which states “. . . nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.”  This is commonly called the “Double Jeopardy Clause.” The Arizona Constitution also has a double jeopardy clause found in Article 2, Section 10 which states that no person shall “be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense.”  At its core, the Double Jeopardy Clause means that no one should ever be punished twice for his or her criminal conduct.

The Double Jeopardy Clause tends to come up in three situations:  retrial after a not guilty verdict, multiple criminal charges or counts based on a defendant’s single course of conduct, and defendant’s conduct constitutes a violation of two different criminal statutes.

The Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits the State or government from either appealing a not guilty verdict or bringing the same criminal charge against an acquitted defendant in order to obtain a guilty verdict.  For example, California and Florida could not bring new murder charges against O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony who were found not guilty of murder.

The State or government could also charge a defendant with multiple criminal charges or counts based on his or her single, uninterrupted course of conduct.  This situation can occur when multiple sex crimes are charged based on one sexual encounter or when there are multiple victims in a single encounter. The Supreme Court of Arizona recently held that Arizona’s resisting arrest statute, A.R.S. § 13-508, permits only one conviction regardless of the number of officers involved when a defendant resists an arrest in the course of a single, continuous event in State v. Jurden, 239 Ariz. 526 (2016).

A violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause can occur when a person’s conduct constitutes a violation of two different criminal statutes.  See State v. Jurden, 239 Ariz. 526 ¶ 10 (2016).  This frequently comes up in the context of lesser-included offenses which are often charged along with greater-included offenses.  For example, the Arizona Court of Appeals found that child molestation pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-1410 was a lesser-included offense to the greater offense of sexual conduct with a minor pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-1405 in State v. Ortega, 220 Ariz. 320 (App. 2008).

Double Jeopardy Clause analysis is very complex.  If you are charged with several crimes based on a single course of conduct, you need an experienced defense attorney to make sure that the State has not violated the Double Jeopardy Clause.  Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over thirty years experience. Call him today for a free consultation.

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Low or No Cost Legal and Mental Health Services

Finding low or no cost legal and mental health services in the Phoenix metro area can be very frustrating when you make too much money to qualify for Community Legal Services and Arizona Medicaid (AHCCCS). Sliding fee scales for legal and mental health services are meaningless when they tell you that your “affordable” fee will be $70.00 per session! Listed below are low or no cost legal and mental health services that are currently accepting clients/patients, provide real help, and charge low fees (typically $12.00 or less per session) regardless of income.

Arizona Justice Center provides free legal counseling, marriage and family counseling, and addiction counseling. Call them at (623) 847 – 2772, e-mail them at AzJusticeCenter@gmail.com or visit their website at www.azjusticecenter.org

Arizona Legal Center helps answer a vital question: “Do I have a case?” Here is how they describe their free legal services on their website:

“The lawyers at the Legal Triage Program will vet your case for possible claims, defenses, and remedies, then identify possible resolutions or strategic options and provide appropriate referrals and resources for legal or other assistance in the community to help with matters that are found to be valid and viable.” Originally seen published on http://www.arizonalegalcenter.org/services.html

The Arizona State University Counselor Training Center provides low cost mental health therapy for people residing in the Phoenix metro area. Here is a description of their services from their online brochure:

“Counseling services are tailored to the concerns presented by the client, which might include but are not limited to:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • personal problems
  • relationships
  • family problems
  • career counseling
  • life transitions


Clients are assigned to a counselor and scheduled for standing one-hour weekly appointments for the duration of the semester. Depending on when a client initiates services, he or she could receive up to 12 weeks of services. Counselors and clients work collaboratively to determine whether additional counseling is needed at the end of the semester.”

Call them at (480) 965 – 5067, e-mail them at ctc@asu.edu or visit their website at www.cis.asu.edu/ctc.

Maricopa Integrated Health Care Systems runs the Desert Vista Outpatient Clinic which accepts patients based on medical need. Here is how they describe their services on their website:

“The Desert Vista Outpatient Clinic provides comprehensive assessment and treatment to individuals experiencing difficulties related to psychiatric, psychological or emotional problems.

We treat both adults and children in the Desert Vista Outpatient Clinic. Our services include intensive individual psychotherapy, group therapy, family therapy and medication management (if applicable). The clinic does not offer substance abuse treatment.”

Call them at (480) 355 – 2100 for more information.

The free or low cost legal services above do not handle criminal cases. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, you need an experienced attorney who has reasonable rates. Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over thirty years experience and charges reasonable rates. Call him today for a free consultation.

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Maricopa County Diversion Programs

On April 9, 2018, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office announced the creation of a Diversion Programs Bureau that will administer and monitor diversion programs.  The following information is from a Maricopa County Attorney’s Office News Release dated April 9, 2018 https://www.maricopacountyattorney.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=490

“Diversion programs offer our prosecutors another option to help seek justice and reduce crime, said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Our success is not achieved through simply tracking wins or losses, which we do not do, but rather we measure success by seeking justice for the victims, the offender and our community. Programs like diversion allow eligible offenders a chance to stay in their communities while learning the skills to stop the cycle that may cause them to reoffend in the future”


Each case is reviewed by a prosecutor and part of the review includes identifying offenders who would benefit from a diversion program instead of traditional prosecution through the courts.  Offenders who choose to go through diversion can have their charges dismissed or not filed at all upon successful completion of the program.


The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office offers the following diversion programs:  TASC (drug diversion), child abuse/excessive punishment, Felony Pretrial Intervention, Non-drug diversion, bad check writing, and juvenile.  You can read about TASC in previous blog posts. The following information about the other diversion programs comes from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deferred Prosecution Program Annual Report, 2016-17, issued on August 8, 2017.  https://www.maricopacountyattorney.org/DocumentCenter/View/513/MCAO-Deferred-Prosecution-Program-Annual-Report-2016-2017-PDF


Child abuse/excessive punishment diversion is available to parents and guardians who are first-time offenders with no DCS history who use excessive force in disciplining a child that causes only minor injury and are facing a charge of child abuse or a similar offense.  If they successfully complete the program, they can avoid having charges filed against them.


The Felony Pretrial Intervention Program began in July 2015.  It is offered to felony offenders with minimal criminal history who are at low risk to reoffend.  The offender is referred to a community treatment provider who develops an individualized treatment program targeting the offender’s specific needs.  Program length will vary because this is not a “one size fits all” approach. An offender who successfully completes the program will avoid a felony conviction.  The program goals are to reduce recidivism and direct limited resources to offenders who need significant intervention by the criminal justice system.


Non-drug diversion is done through Sage Counseling and TASC.  It usually provides programs for offenders who require general “life skills” training, anger management counseling, and drug and alcohol awareness assistance.


Bad check writing diversion allows an offender to pay the balance of the bad check in full before criminal charges are filed.  The money order or cashier’s check for the full amount is paid to the MCAO Check Enforcement Program, not the merchant or person(s) who received the bad check.


Juvenile Probation Diversion is available for juvenile offenders who have first and second misdemeanors and first time drug-related offenses.  The first or second referral for diversion is handled by the Maricopa County Juvenile Probation Department and the referrals will not be prosecuted by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.


Depending on the facts of your case, you may qualify for diversion and avoid a felony conviction.  You need an experienced defense attorney to help you get into diversion. Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over three decades experience dealing with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.  Call him today for a free consultation.

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