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What to do if someone falsely accuses you of a crime
The presumption of innocence may demand that any person accused of a crime be considered innocent until proven guilty. However, that all-important legal principle cannot always save a person from the ramifications of a false accusation. Simply being accused of a crime can completely upend a person’s life, even if that person is never officially charged or convicted. And while there are laws in California that prevent a person from knowingly making a false report of a crime to law enforcement, false accusations do happen, and they happen more often than you might think. That being said, there are steps you can take, even before charges are officially brought against you, to clear your name. If you have been falsely accused of a crime in San Diego, you should immediately hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights and safeguard your freedom and reputation.
- Hire an attorney as soon as possible and remember your right to remain silent.
- Preventing the case from going to court in the first place is the safest strategy.
- Do not underestimate the importance of a preliminary investigation. Ask your lawyer to get one started right away.
- Remain calm. Do not take to social media to vent; avoid contact with the accuser whenever possible; and do not destroy evidence or impede the investigation in any way.
- Rely on your attorney to bolster your integrity and challenge your accuser’s credibility in the eyes of the court.
How to Defend Yourself Against False Accusations
There are many different types of situations that can lead to a person being falsely accused of a crime. In some cases, an allegation of wrongdoing that is untrue is the result of a genuine error, such as mistaken identity. However, a false accusation can also be driven by revenge, anger, or just plain malice, which is sometimes the case in contentious divorces or child custody proceedings. If someone falsely accuses you of a crime, consider taking the following steps as soon as possible.
1. Hire an Experienced Defense Attorney and Know Your Rights
The very first thing you should do when facing false accusations is to get a criminal defense attorney involved and remember your right to remain silent. You should never talk to the police without first consulting your attorney. Second, avoid taking to social media to vent your frustrations. You do not have a “reasonable assurance” of privacy on social media and anything you write in a Facebook or Instagram post can be used against you. Additionally, avoid any interactions with your accuser, especially in harassment cases. Do not try to get the other person to see your side or drop the charges.
2. Take Steps Before Charges are Brought to Prevent the Case from Going to Court
The best way to defeat a false accusation is to prevent the charges from being brought against you in the first place. No matter what the accuser says, police have the final say in terms of what charges are filed, if any at all. When an accusation is made, investigators will typically take time to gather evidence, determine if a crime has been committed, and identify the most reasonable charges. This is your window of time to hire an attorney and begin a preliminary investigation. The purpose of this investigation is to gather evidence to support your case and possibly prevent the charges from being brought against you or convince the prosecutor to reduce the charge. The earlier you get an attorney involved during the investigative stage, the better your chance of achieving a favorable outcome.
A false accusation can be extremely frustrating, or even devastating in some cases. However, remember that the determination of your innocence or guilt is not based solely on someone else’s word. Hiring an attorney to protect your rights and investigate the accusations against you may reveal discrepancies in the other person’s story that prove the accusations to be false. Perhaps it exposes the accuser as an unreliable source of information or points to the prosecution’s evidence as the result of unethical police work. Whatever the case, there is a window of opportunity before charges are filed in which you can demonstrate your innocence.
3. Challenge the Accuser’s Credibility
If you have been falsely accused of a crime and your case goes to court, your attorney will employ some key strategies in defending you against the charges. First and foremost, your attorney will want to find a way to discredit the accuser and call his or her accusations into question. Perhaps the accuser has a history of lying or has something to gain by claiming that you committed a crime. By putting him or her on the stand and asking questions under oath, your attorney can make the accuser look unreliable or untrustworthy in the eyes of the judge and jury.
4. Consider Filing a Civil Suit
You may consider asking your attorney about filing a civil suit against the person who falsely accused you of a crime. A malicious prosecution claim, for instance, may allow a person who was wrongfully prosecuted for a crime to sue the person who originally brought the case if that person initiated the criminal case despite it having no merit. In this type of civil case, the plaintiff (the previously prosecuted defendant) can claim that the false accusations caused him or her damage and can seek compensation for that damage.
Find Out How Our Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help
It is not uncommon to get caught up in a criminal case involving false accusations. People don’t always tell the truth, and even law enforcement can make mistakes or engage in illegal or unethical actions. A good criminal defense attorney will understand the burdens and frustrations that go along with facing false accusations and do everything in his or her power to ensure your side of the story is told. Our criminal defense attorneys at Sevens Legal Criminal Lawyers can help you find the best path forward when someone falsely accuses you of a crime. Call or text us today at (619) 430-2355 for a free legal consultation.