The do’s and don’ts of what to do and say after a false accusation
Although studies have shown that the false reporting of sex crimes is statistically low (ranging from 2 to 7 percent in most states), if you are falsely accused, it can be an extremely frightening experience. It might be tempting to just ignore it and hope it all goes away, but that is not the proper way to handle a false sex crime.
Why would someone falsely accuse you of a sex crime?
There are many reasons why someone might accuse you of a sex crime you did not commit, and not all of them are sinister. Of course, the person may simply be seeking revenge, like an ex trying to get the upper hand in a custody battle or divorce proceeding. Or it is possible that the sex was consensual and now the other person has regrets. It could be a case of mistaken identity or they may be trying to hide an extramarital affair.
Regardless of the reason you were charged, there are specific steps you must take to respond to the allegations, as well as things you should never do.
Here are the dos and don’ts of dealing with false sex crime allegations:
DON’T ignore the charges simply because they are false
Though it might be tempting to simply ignore the charges and hope that they disappear because you know you are innocent, this is never the best course of action. Sexual charges can have serious and lifelong consequences. It is important to act proactively as soon as you learn of the charges in order to protect yourself.
DO hire a defense attorney immediately
As soon as you hear that someone has charged you with a sex-related crime, contact a criminal defense attorney who specializes in sexual assault allegations. Just like you would see a specialist for a health issue, you want to hire a lawyer who has experience handling this type of case.
You also want to choose an attorney who thoroughly reviews the case and does not promise a quick and easy end to the entire matter. Speak to the attorney honestly about what happened before you speak to anyone else, including the police.
DON’T try to defend yourself
It’s a natural reaction to want to explain your version of the events that may have led up to the accusation. However, it is critical that you don’t call the accuser and try to “get to the bottom” of the accusation or make excuses for what happened.
From the moment you are accused, everything you say can be used against you. This includes conversations with friends, posts on social media and any discussion you have with the accuser. Only speak through your attorney and avoid any contact with the person who has accused you until the matter is settled.
DO write down your own recollection of events
As soon as you learn you have been accused, write down what you recall about the incident. Note the clothing you were wearing, the lighting in the area, how much both of you had been drinking, if drugs were involved and other details you can remember. If the clothing you were wearing has not been laundered, turn it over to your attorney for testing.
Make a list of witnesses who can corroborate your version of the events but only give the list to your attorney, not to the police.
DON’T let your emotions get the best of you
When you are falsely accused of sexual assault, you will rightfully be angry, but it is critical that you keep your emotions in check. You need to watch everything you say and do in public because any outburst could be used against you.
Avoid the accuser as well as any of their friends, family or co-workers as much as you possibly can in order to avoid a confrontation. If it is impossible for you to completely stay away from them, do your best to avoid them in close spaces. Do not talk to them and keep a significant distance between you.
DO inform your lawyer of supporting evidence
Today, video cameras are located just about everywhere. If you know there is a video system in the area where the alleged assault happened, be sure to tell your attorney. This is often valuable as it may confirm your version of the events. If there were photos taken the night in question that can refute the claims, be sure to provide those for your attorney.
Keep in mind that all the evidence you have or are aware of needs to be given to your attorney only and not shown to friends, family or handed over to police. Your lawyer will take care of getting the information to the police once they have determined its accuracy.
If you have been wrongfully accused of sexual assault, contact Matt Sharp today to arrange for a no-obligation consultation to see how he can help. We can help you begin clearing your name as quickly as possible.