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Posted on December 30, 2019 in Criminal Defense

5 Key Things to Remember If You’re Facing False Accusations in Court

Being accused of a crime you didn’t commit can be more than a little frustrating. If these statements are made to police they could lead to your arrest and be used in court. When not corrected, false accusations can have a devastating impact on your life. 

For that reason, it’s important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney involved in your case that can help make sure the truth comes out. Here are some things to keep in mind if you find yourself in this situation. 

Reasons Why False Accusations Happen

Now, although false accusations can be upsetting, it’s helpful to first understand why they may happen. The fact is that sometimes people hold grudges. They may believe that you wronged them in some way, and could make up stories about you as a form of retaliation.

A person may also feel that there is something to be gained by pressing criminal charges. For example, in a child custody case, one parent could try to use allegations of sexual abuse or domestic violence as leverage to get full custody.

But, often, false accusations are simply a matter of someone making a mistake. This occurs quite frequently in cases of mistaken identity. In fact, witness memory is not as reliable as you may think. Further, if the accuser was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident, their cognition and memory may have been impaired. 

The State Has to Prove Their Case Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

With that in mind, the mere accusation that you were involved in a crime does not mean that you will be convicted. Always keep in mind that, under the law, you are deemed innocent until proven guilty.

Now, in order for the state to obtain a conviction, the prosecutor must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you committed the crime in question. This requires significant evidence and means that there can be no other logical explanation for the facts presented in court other than you broke the law.  

Remember, this level of proof is on the state. It is not up to you to prove your innocence, and if any doubt exists as to your guilt, you must be acquitted. Because of this, it’s likely not enough to have one person testify against you. This is particularly true if it can be shown that the individual has some sort of bias. 

You Have the Right to an Attorney

It’s important to keep in mind that you have the right to have an attorney represent you whenever you are facing criminal charges. A qualified criminal lawyer will know how to put together the best defense, including developing a strategy for responding to false accusations. 

Part of this strategy includes determining what evidence to gather, what witnesses can support your version of the events, and how to point out inconsistencies in statements made by witnesses testifying for the prosecution. However, note that time is always a factor in these situations. For that reason, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as you are made aware of the allegations against you.

You Have the Right to Remain Silent 

Keep in mind that if someone makes false statements about you, you need not respond to them. This is your constitutional right to not self-incriminate. And while it can be difficult to resist correcting what you believe is wrong, it’s always best not to say anything to law enforcement or the court until you have consulted with an attorney. This is because even false accusations can implicate you in unforeseen ways based on how you respond to them. 

As part of your right to remain silent, you also have the right to not consent to a search of your home. You also have the right to decline any blood or DNA testing. Police generally need a warrant for these types of searches. Now, you may feel pressured to consent in order to prove your innocence, but it’s important to not accidentally provide incriminating evidence to the prosecution. Instead, you may ask to speak with your attorney.

You May Be Able to Sue for Defamation or Malicious Prosecution

As you can see, false accusations can have a devastating effect on your life. In order to discourage this type of dishonesty, the law provides some options for victims of these types of false statements. 

Specifically, you may be able to file what is known as a defamation lawsuit. Defamation cases allow you to sue for any money you lost as a result of the allegations, such as work income or business profits. You may also recover for any mental anguish you endured. 

Further, the person making the false accusations may also be charged with the crime of malicious prosecution. However, bear in mind that these cases can be difficult to win as you must show that the person had a criminal motive behind bringing the charges against you. Because these types of cases are complex, talk to an attorney if you are interested in pursuing either of these options.