If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime that you did not commit, it can be mind-boggling. We assume that we will not be accused of doing things we did not do, and that the legal system guarantees that we won’t be falsely convicted. Unfortunately, false accusations are more common than we would like to think. For example, when DNA testing became a valid means of collecting criminal evidence, it was discovered that hundreds of people waiting on death row did not commit the crimes for which they were falsely convicted.
If you have been falsely accused, you may wonder: How serious are the charges? What am I supposed to do? How can I prove that I am innocent? What are my rights and legal options? It is crucial to secure the services of a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you are falsely charged with a criminal offense. It is important to find an attorney with experience representing those who have been accused of a similar criminal offense. This legal expert will be able to evaluate your case to determine the very best way to protect and maximize your legal interests. While the best advice in your case will come from your competent criminal attorney, there are some things you can start right now to protect yourself after being falsely accused.
1. Realize the importance of false accusations . If you have been accused of a criminal offense, the consequences can be serious. Many people who are falsely accused experience a period of denial about the magnitude of these charges. You might think, “Well, I didn’t do it, so the charges can’t be serious.” Unfortunately, the charges, however false, should not be taken lightly. What you do today will greatly effect the outcome of a false accusation. If you fail to take the right steps now, you may suffer significant legal ramifications in the future.
2 . Prepare for the costs of your defense. If you have been falsely accused of a serious crime, such as rape, sexual abuse, or domestic violence, there is a good chance you will face criminal charges with a high risk of conviction. Building a strong defense case will take time and money. Expert witnesses will be necessary, special psychological tests may be required, and other evidence may need to be collected. Any promise of a cheap and easy way to defend yourself against serious allegations will probably cost you a lot more in the long run. Especially if your defense is inadequate and the court convicts you of the crime you didn’t even commit!
3. Document your case. Writing down as many details as possible about your case is extremely helpful to you and your team of defense attorneys. Keep track of any events or information related to the false accusations. Be as detailed as possible. If you are not sure if some piece of information is relevant, document it and let your attorney determine its importance. This will save time and money and be a great asset to your defense.
4. Educate yourself. As with most things in life, you have to be able to depend on yourself when you are falsely accused of a crime. It is impossible to defend yourself if you don’t understand what is happening. While a competent attorney will handle many legal particulars of your case, it is important to learn about the allegations you face. Do your homework. Many sources, including this comprehensive website, provide detailed information about criminal offenses , your rights , and the legal system . When your defense team tells you that something needs to be done, ask questions. Learn as much as you can about your case and become proactive about your defense. Involved and informed defendants (you!) have the best chance at securing favorable results.
5. Compile a list of possible witnesses . As a criminal defendant, you have the legal right to gather witnesses in your defense. It is important to sit down and make a list of those potential witnesses. Some experts suggest that you use 3×5 or 5×7 cards to keep track of your witnesses. One card will be for each witness and should include their name, address, phone number, place of employment, brief background, and what they might be able to provide through testimony. If you are not sure if a person would be a good witness or think someone might be a bad witness, make a card for them too, noting these things. Your criminal defense can take this information and decide which witnesses will most strongly bolster your case.
6. Know your rights. If you are questioned by police, you do not have to say anything. If you are not being arrested, you are free to leave a place of questioning (with the exception of temporary detainment in some situations). If you are arrested, you still do not have to say anything beyond providing your name, address, and birthday. REMAIN SILENT, when they say, “anything you say can be used against you” they mean it! Explaining yourself will NOT improve your condition. Leave the explanation for later. You are guaranteed the right to competent legal representation by the US constitution. There are many more rights of the accused you should learn to protect and maximize your rights.