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Posted on April 23, 2019 in Sex Crimes

How Do You Defend Against a False Rape Charge?

Rape and sexual assault are very sensitive subjects in the American court of public opinion and state prosecutors across the country tend to prosecute these cases very aggressively. Unfortunately, physical evidence may be minimal in such a claim, and investigators may face an issue of “he said, she said,” unable to discern the truth of the matter. Prosecutors inherently tend to side with accusers due to the gravity of these offenses, but unfortunately, false rape claims can and do happen.

Law enforcement and prosecutors do not want to indirectly discourage real rape victims from coming forward with their stories or face criminal sanctions for reporting legitimate claims with minimal evidence. However, falsely accused individuals should have some idea of what to do about false rape claims and options for recovery after a wrongful conviction.

Potential Damages From False Rape Accusations

Sometimes the mere accusation of rape or sexual assault is enough to damage the accused’s reputation, standing in the community, and even employment. Many individuals have even gone to prison for several years due to false rape claims, and some wonder if there is any room for legal recovery following imprisonment or other unjust punishments for a false rape claim.

Many defense attorneys report that testifying is not always in the best interests of the accused. In the event an accuser levies a completely bogus charge and the accused has an ironclad alibi, the accused should of course work to prove his or her alibi in a court of law. However, most rape accusations occur between people who know each other, and many false accusations follow consensual sex, but one partner decides to file a false claim following consensual sex. This can effectively stack the physical evidence against the accused, making it extremely difficult for him or her to prove innocence.

Even if a false accusation does not lead to a conviction and sentencing, the accused can still face substantial public ridicule, lose his or her job, face child custody complications, and suffer extreme emotional distress due to the false accusation. An individual facing a false rape accusation needs a defense attorney to not only prove innocence but also potentially take justified retaliatory action against the false accuser.

Taking Legal Action After a False Accusation

If a falsely accused person decides to pursue legal action against his or her accuser, it is very likely he or she will be unable to directly cite anything from the criminal case due to litigation privilege protection, but it is possible to prove civil liability for making false statements to the police, false reporting to the media, and defamatory statements made to other members of the community. Additionally, many states have enacted measures to help those wrongfully imprisoned by false accusations to recover compensation for time spent in prison and/or time spent on a sex offender registry.

Modern laws pertaining to rape and sexual assault no longer allow an accused individual to use the accuser’s past sexual behavior or promiscuity as exculpatory evidence, nor can accused individuals demand psychological evaluations of accusers. Simply put, the law inherently works in favor of the accuser, even with a complete lack of physical evidence. Anyone facing a false rape accusation should immediately hire a defense attorney. An attorney can not only help fight a false charge but also explore remedial action against the accuser.

In most cases, a falsely accused individual must not only prove that the accuser lacks sufficient evidence for a conviction, but also that the accuser engaged in willfully malicious conduct and levied a false accusation with the sole intent of harming the accused and subjecting him or her to legal, social, and professional penalties.

In 2011, a Maryland man won more than $850,000 and full custody of his kids after proving his ex-wife falsely accused him of molesting their two daughters. He lost his job and could not find work for five years while fighting his legal battle, and the case eventually revealed his ex filed the false accusation to gain an advantage in their custody battle. This is just one example of how a false accusation of rape can easily destroy the accused’s public image and various aspects of his or her life, but recovery is possible with reliable legal counsel.