Earlier this month, a 34-year-old high school teacher pleaded not guilty to charges of statutory rape connected to an alleged sexual relationship she carried on with a 16-year-old student. Prosecutors say the teacher had at least three sexual encounters with the student in 2013. The specific charges filed against the teacher are three counts of first-degree felony rape.
Obviously, these are very serious charges and could land the teacher in prison for a substantial amount of time. Sources didn’t elaborate on the reasons for the teacher’s plea of not guilty, but mentioned that she disputes the number of sexual encounters alleged by prosecutors. The decision to plead guilty or not, of course, always belongs ultimately to the defendant.
There are a number of possible reasons the teacher may have pleaded not guilty. At this point, she is set for a pre-trial conference at the beginning of May. At a pre-trial conference, the defendant’s attorney, the judge and the prosecutor, and sometimes the defendant, all get together to discuss the case. This discussion includes the plans for the case, particularly whether the case is headed to trial or toward pre-trial resolution.
At the pre-trial conference and at all legal proceedings, it is important for criminal defendants to have the assistance of an experienced attorney who knows how to navigate the court system and how to negotiate with prosecutors. This is especially important in cases involving felony charges like this one, where significant prison time is a possibility. Having the assistance of an attorney who has handled such cases will help ensure the best possible outcome.
Source: Standard Examiner, “Sex with Davis High student: Altice denies felony rape charge,” February 28, 2014.