Although our country's legal system presumes each person is innocent until proven guilty, false allegations can still have a negative impact on your life. If you have been falsely accused of a sex crime, the media could portray you as a criminal, your community could treat you like a pariah, and your professional reputation could suffer greatly—all before ever stepping foot in a courtroom.
Important steps to take when you are falsely accused of a sex crime include:
- Take the allegations seriously – The most important thing you can do to prevent further damage is to take immediate action. Many people who are falsely accused make the mistake of letting the legal system run its course. Without taking preventative measures, you could end up being charged and even convicted, resulting in serving the maximum penalties.
- Hire a lawyer – An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate your case, determine all of your available legal options, and build a strong defense strategy in order to protect your rights, reputation, and future. Your lawyer can properly deal with your accuser's threats, the investigation by law enforcement, negotiations with the prosecutor, and self-incrimination if you make a mistake.
- Don't talk to police – Exercise your right to remain silent—even prior to being read your Miranda rights by police. However, many people believe telling their side of the story can prevent them from further legal harm. Unfortunately, any statements you make to law enforcement can be used against you at trial. Additionally, avoid revealing any details of the case to your peers since they could be subpoenaed to testify against you.
- Collect evidence – With the help of your attorney, compile a list of as many details and facts about the case as you possibly can—no matter how insignificant they appear to you. Let your lawyer determine whether or not such details could provide evidence that the claim against you is false. Furthermore, include names of potential witnesses who could support your claim and testify on your behalf in court.
- Plan for costs – Not only does the cost of your defense include legal representation, but also professional experts to testify on your behalf, tests that are ordered to support your claims, and discovery in general. Although all of this may seem like a lot of money, being able to walk away from this case without serving criminal penalties is a priceless feeling.
- Do not confront your accuser – While it may seem like an attempt to settle the manner like civilized adults, attempting to speak with your accuser can have a negative impact on your case. The prosecution can use any contact with the accuser against you in court.