False accusations have the potential to ruin a person’s life and can lead to real consequences in both criminal and civil proceedings. While being falsely accused may seem like a rare occurrence, you’d be surprised to hear how often false accusations happen in family law matters such as divorce and child custody cases. Other common instances of false accusations include sexual harassment, domestic violence, and assault.
If you’ve been wrongfully accused, you may assume that the truth will ultimately prevail in court, but is that a risk you are willing to take? Instead of leaving it to fate, it’s best to strategize your defense with an experienced attorney. Keep reading for an overview of how to defend yourself against false accusations AND flip the script on the accuser.
If you’ve been falsely accused of a crime, you are likely experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions. Your gut instinct may be to confront your accuser, but losing your temper is the absolute worst move you can make right now. It’s a normal reaction to want to fight back, especially if you’ve been falsely accused of a heinous crime such as sexual harassment, child abuse, or domestic violence. No matter what you’ve been accused of, you must stay calm. Acting out in anger will only hurt your case. Don’t let law enforcement bait you into answering questions or giving a statement without your defense attorney present. Never make contact with the person who falsely accused you without a third-party present.
Early intervention is key. Call an experienced defense attorney as soon as you suspect that you may be falsely accused of a crime! Once retained, your lawyer may be able to take proactive measures to provide enough evidence to convince the police or prosecutor to dismiss the case. Taking action before being charged with a crime is your best bet at walking away without tarnishing your good name.
I’ve been charged with a crime, but I’m innocent! Now what?
When defending yourself against false accusations, it’s important to hire an experienced attorney to help you build your case. Your lawyer will be able to help you understand state laws pertaining to the crime you’ve been falsely accused of committing. Your defense attorney can also explain any laws that may assist you in holding your accuser accountable for making false accusations against you. Together, you and your attorney can create a strategy for the best possible outcome.
Sometimes the best defense is no defense.
Your attorney may advise you to sit tight and wait to see if the prosecutor can even come up with enough evidence to charge you with a crime. If the witness recants his/her testimony or lab results are revealed to support your innocence, you may be able to walk away without criminal charges.
Depending on the circumstances of your case and the evidence against you, your attorney may recommend entering into a plea agreement with the prosecutor. As unjust as it may seem, it may be in your best interest to plead guilty to a lesser charge rather than risk a conviction, harsher sentence, and permanent criminal record. Only an experienced attorney has the knowledge to advise you on whether to enter into a plea agreement.
If you are formally charged with a crime, your lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation of the crime and the prosecutor’s evidence against you. Your attorney will also interview witnesses and retain expert witnesses if needed.
Gathering Evidence to Prove Your Innocence
To prove your innocence, you’ll need to present evidence in court to support your version of the story. Collaborate with your attorney to gather receipts, emails, documents, photos, GPS data, and anything you can find to clear your good name. You should also keep meticulous notes when preparing to defend yourself against false accusations. Maintain a record of conversations, emails, texts, and phone calls in a journal or by using the notes application on your phone.
Challenge the Accuser’s Credibility
Once you’ve hired an attorney, you and he/she will begin developing a strategy to prove your innocence. In both criminal and civil cases, an effective strategy often involves discrediting the accuser. If someone has accused you of wrongdoing, your attorney will attempt to prove that the accuser is not credible by highlighting inconsistent statements, demonstrating a pattern of deception, uncovering possible defects in the accuser’s perception, and outlining prior convictions to convince jurors that the accuser has a history of dishonest or untruthful behavior. A good defense attorney will also attempt to convince the jury that your accuser had a motive to falsely accuse you.
Turn the Charges Around on Your Accuser
In both Texas and Oklahoma, making a false report to law enforcement officers is a crime if he/she has the intent to deceive and knowingly makes a false statement that is material to a criminal investigation. This includes statements made to police officers, federal special investigators, or any employee of a law enforcement agency that is authorized to conduct the investigation.
In Texas, filing a false report is a Class B misdemeanor. If convicted, the defendant will be punished by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of $2,000.TX Penal Code § 37.08 (2019)
Sometimes all it takes for your attorney to motivate your accuser to withdraw his or her claims is a stern reminder of the consequences.
Defamation – False Accusation Attorney John H. Nix
Remember, making false accusations is illegal under Texas and Oklahoma’s defamation laws if you can prove the following three factors:
- The defendant made a false statement of fact about the plaintiff to a third party (including law enforcement)
- The defendant made a statement that caused the plaintiff reputational or material harm
- the defendant acted negligently or purposefully