If you are reading this blog, either you or someone you care about has recently been visited by the police and are under investigation for a cybersex crime. You are likely in shock and are likely panicking. After many years of working with people in this situation, I have learned a thing or two of what to do next. Even though you might be panicked, immobilized, in shock or depressed, you must take action.
Here is what you need to do right away.
- Hire an attorney
If you have the money or can rustle up the money, you need to immediately hire an attorney. I will talk about what to look for in an attorney in a later post. What you need to know in these first moments is that you should not just hire the first attorney you talk to. Talk to several criminal defense attorneys. Find out how much experience they have working with cybersex cases. Make sure that the attorney has experience working with cybersex cases at your level. If the FBI is investigating you, you need an attorney who has experience in Federal Court. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you are going to have to be your own advocate during this process. A court appointed attorney won’t have the time to give you what a private attorney will. You will have to do some of the leg work yourself.
- Make sure you are safe
When I say make sure you are safe, I mean make sure you are emotionally safe. People who are investigated for cybersex crimes frequently feel immediately suicidal. The majority of cybersex offenders have never been in trouble with the law before and the entire process can cause a shame spiral. If you feel suicidal, go to the emergency room or find a hospital where you can go for a few days to ensure your emotional health and well-being. If you are the loved one of someone who is under investigation be aware that they may be experiencing suicidal thoughts.
- Find a therapist
Now is not the time to just go down the list of in-network treatment providers from your insurance. You don’t just need a therapist, you need a specialist. The therapist you see should have experience treating people in your exact situation. They should have experience treating sexual offenders and perhaps pornography addicts. While many therapists might be able to help you work through the anxiety and depression that will occur related to the investigation, if they don’t have experience working with the specific sexual behaviors or the court process, they will not be as effective as someone who specializes.
The criminal justice system works at a rather slow pace. You will have time to deal with all of what comes after the investigation. I will address many of these things in further posts.
If you are newly investigated please do things now and start to let experienced professionals help you through this process.
Dr. Jennifer Weeks is a Clinically Certified Sex Offender Treatment Specialist and an expert witness in the areas of sexual offending, cybersex offending and sexual addiction. For more information on her services please go to the Sexual Addiction Treatment Services website.