Most of us think the idea that we could be falsely accused of a crime is close to preposterous. Criminal charges are brought against characters on our favorite TV shows. It might happen to people in real life that we have no connection with. However, even though it might be an unlikely possibility, everyone should realize that yes, it can happen–to anyone. According to The Innocence Project, there are “staggering numbers” of innocent people in jail, and “wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events but instead arise from systemic defects.” Since most people sail through life thinking it will never happen to them, they wind up woefully unprepared when falsely accused of a crime. Thus, their reactions and behavior can make this extremely difficult and even frightening event much worse. There are facts you absolutely have to know in case this stressful scenario ever happens to you.
What To Do When Falsely Accused
Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent
This is a crucial right for good reason. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it makes you look guilty. By not remaining silent, you can unwittingly commit mistakes that will actually make it harder to prove your innocence. For example, even the best memory is flawed–no one remembers all the details of a past incident accurately. If you try to give your side of the story and then later remember you got something wrong or left something out and try to correct the record, your inconsistencies will make you seem untrustworthy. When asked questions about the false accusations, it’s vital to keep repeating that you need to talk to your attorney before answering.
Find and Hire a Defense Attorney
Too many people put their trust in the system and in their innocence. The fact is you must retain a lawyer as soon as possible when falsely accused of a crime. This is another action people worry will make them look guilty. Actually, It will protect you from costly mistakes and unnecessary risks. Hiring an attorney will also speed your ability to prove your innocence.
Refuse Any Search Without a Search Warrant
Many people don’t realize that the police have to follow rules during a search that happens due to a warrant. If you give permission when they don’t have one, they don’t have to follow those rules. Also, you may not realize how things they could find could work against you.
Resist the Temptation to Talk to the Accuser
Some people think they can clear everything up just by reaching out to their accuser for a conversation. It might be a neighbor or a co-worker. Sometimes the person is even someone they consider a friend, so it’s understandable to lean toward the mistaken notion that talking to that person might help. The truth is, the accuser is the last person you shouldiscuss the situation with. You may inadvertently say something the accuser’s attorney could use against you.
Evidence: Gather Any That Helps, Ignore Any That Seems Incriminating
If you know anyone who can back up details of your story that show you’re innocent, ask them to talk with your attorney. Also, if you have any documentation that can prove you are innocent of what you are falsely accused of, gather it quickly. On the other hand, if you encounter information or other evidence that you think could be misinterpreted as making you seem guilty, it is crucial that you leave it alone. Do not try to hide or get rid of it. If it’s discovered that you suppressed potential evidence, it will be much harder for your lawyer to prove your innocence. These are just a few of the actions you need to take when falsely accused of a crime. The most important thing to do is to act quickly, as soon as possible, and find a good defense attorney to help you know all the details of what to do in this difficult situation. PHOTO: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain