Legal actions you can take after being falsely accused a sex crime
Being accused of a sex crime you did not commit can be frightening. Even after you have successfully fought the charges in court, you may feel as if people still believe you are guilty. A false accusation of any type can be devastating but false allegations of sexual abuse can have extended ramifications.
Once you have been exonerated, you may want to fight back in order to regain your reputation and recover the financial losses you may have experienced as you fought for your innocence. In Texas, you have the right to sue if you are falsely accused of a sex crime.
Defamation of character
One of the most common suits filed after someone is falsely accused of a sex crime is a defamation of character lawsuit. You may have lost your job, been forced to leave your home or your reputation may have been seriously damaged due to the claim.
In a defamation suit, the person who deliberately communicated false information with the intent to harm your reputation can be held liable for your damages. The false information may have been communicated in writing or orally, and the person had to know what they were claiming was false. You also must prove that the statements were made to deliberately harm you.
Libel or slander
Defamation lawsuits generally fall under 2 categories: libel and slander. If the person who accused wrote or said things about you in a willfully defamatory manner, they committed libel. The statement had to be made with malice and intent to harm you.
If you can prove that the person made accusations they knew were false and did so to damage your career or reputation, they have committed slander. In Texas, a false accusation of a particularly serious crime, such as rape or murder, can be used as the basis of a defamation of character lawsuit.
You may also be able to file a civil lawsuit based on malicious prosecution. Under malicious prosecution, you must prove that someone was fully aware they were making false accusations and they had a wrongful purpose for making the claim. Inadequate evidence is not normally enough to file a malicious prosecution lawsuit. If you can prove negligent testimony by an expert was used in court, that may be grounds for a malicious prosecution civil case.
It is important to remember district attorneys and other public officials may have immunity from prosecution. However, you may be able to file a malicious prosecution lawsuit against a private prosecuting attorney.
There have been instances where someone accused of sexual assault was convicted and sent to prison, only for someone to come forward later and admit to the crime. In some cases, prosecutors have hidden evidence in order to get a conviction or used unlawful tactics to get witnesses to lie under oath. Newly tested DNA evidence has also exonerated people who have spent years in prison for crimes they did not commit.
When these issues come to light, the conviction can be overturned. When that happens, it is possible the accused may be eligible for a false imprisonment civil suit. In that type of suit, you must prove that the state was negligent and that led you to spend time in jail you otherwise would not have.
Compensation in a civil lawsuit
If you are exonerated in a criminal case that alleged sexual assault, you may be entitled to compensation for your monetary losses. This could include attorney fees, court costs and the costs of the investigation. You may even be entitled to loss of salary if the false claim led you to become unemployed.
In addition to actual costs you may have incurred, you may also be entitled to compensation for humiliation, embarrassment and mental anguish. If the accusation was related to a custody battle, you may be able to sue for additional time with your children or even full custody if your ex was the accuser.
Criminal charges against the false accuser
Filing a false police report in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor and carries a penalty of up to 180 days in jail. Depending on how serious the accusation was, the prosecutor could file charges against your accuser and they could face a criminal conviction.
Keep in mind that before you can file a civil lawsuit against your accuser, you must navigate the criminal justice system first. If you are still facing charges, you will not be able to file a civil lawsuit as a conviction could make you ineligible.
Why contact a Houston sex crime defense lawyer
If you have been falsely accused of a sexual assault or have been exonerated after someone has accused you of sexual assault, contact Matt Sharp today to see how he can help you. You may be entitled to compensation for your legal fees, court costs, humiliation and loss of wages.
You can arrange for a no-obligation consultation by calling today or filling out the easy online form. Our legal specialists will help guide you through the process and help you rebuild your reputation while getting the compensation you deserve.