How to Defend Against Wrongful Allegations
- September 22, 2022
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on How to Defend Against Wrongful Allegations
False or wrongful allegations are painful in so many ways. You can get probation or prison time, be charged significant fines, and suffer irreversible damage to your reputation.
People often make false allegations or accusations out of jealousy, anger, or revenge. Custody disputes in divorce proceedings tend to create the perfect environment for false allegations from one side or the other.
What can you do if someone accuses you of a crime you didn’t commit?
Your first step is to hire an experienced criminal attorney. The rest you can learn below.
For a wrongful allegation to stick, the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, there cannot be any doubt that you are guilty of committing the crime in question.
If there is any reason to believe you are not guilty, then the prosecutor has not done their job. The case fails, and the charges should be dismissed.
While you can offer evidence to support your innocence, it isn’t required. However, casting doubt on the strength of the case can be the difference between conviction and freedom.
Pleading the Fifth
Pleading the fifth refers to the fifth amendment of the United States Constitution, which guarantees your right to a grand jury, forbids “double jeopardy,” and protects you against incriminating yourself.
As stated above, you are not required to defend your case proactively. You can plead the fifth and refuse to answer any questions to avoid self-incrimination. You don’t need to provide evidence or testify in your own defense.
Let the prosecution lay out their case. Then you and your attorney can undermine specific points that create doubt in the case.
Challenging False Allegations
You can challenge false allegations in one of two ways. You can say you’re innocent of all charges, or you can plead guilty but that you should not be held responsible.
How can you be guilty yet not responsible? Let’s say you acted in self-defense. You may be forced to act to protect yourself or your property from imminent danger, and you have no choice but to use force or violence to protect yourself from harm.
While challenging to prove, self-defense is one way to limit your responsibility due to the legal activities of others. You must show that your actions were necessary and reasonable for the circumstances.
If you punch someone who hit you, that could be a reasonable response. If you shoot someone who is about to hit you, that is not reasonable. You could be charged with excessive force.
Common Methods of Challenging False Allegations
Get a criminal defense attorney. Most offer a free initial consultation to determine the strength of your case and discuss potential fees. Any communication between you and an attorney is covered by attorney-client privilege, and you get the best advice on how to protect your legal rights.
Your attorney can conduct a pretrial investigation. Before heading to court, both sides gather evidence supporting their sides of the case. Suppose your defense attorney can find favorable evidence during a pretrial investigation. In that case, they may be able to convince the prosecutor not to file criminal charges or to file charges for a lesser crime.
Gather evidence. Support your side of the case by obtaining evidence showing you didn’t commit the crime, including:
- Receipts (which have locations and dates)
- Witness statements
- Photos showing where you were at a particular time and date
- Other tangible objects
All of these things help provide an alibi. You want to prove you were somewhere else when the crime was committed. Write down everything you remember about the date in question while it’s still fresh in your mind. It’s also a good idea to identify witnesses as early as possible.
Find evidence to impeach the accuser. Impeaching the accuser means undermining their credibility. A judge or jury is less likely to side with your accuser if they appear untrustworthy.
What Not to Do
If you do any of the following, you can damage your defense.
Don’t destroy evidence that isn’t in your favor. In many states, destroying evidence in a criminal trial is a crime. If you destroy evidence, you could still be charged with a crime, even if you successfully challenge the original false allegation.
Don’t contact the accuser. The last person you should be seen speaking to is your accuser. Any confrontation could lead to further allegations or criminal charges.
- Don’t contact them in person.
- Don’t contact them by phone.
- Don’t text or email them.
- Don’t post anything about them or your case on social media
Just don’t do it.
Never talk to a police officer or prosecutor without your attorney present. While your case is under investigation or at trial, you should not speak with the police or the prosecutor on your own. You might volunteer incriminating information inadvertently. Also, police may misuse your statements.
Can You Plead Insanity?
Pleading insanity is never as successful as it looks on TV. Also, you don’t see what happens to the successful defendant after the trial.
First, you must prove cognitive impairment at the time of the crime that prevented you from distinguishing between right and wrong. Even so, you are using the partially responsible defense explained above. You are admitting to the crime but are disputing your motivation to get out of criminal charges.
Pleading insanity requires a psychiatric evaluation and testing. You must rely on the testimony of a licensed psychiatrist who can support your claim of mental instability at the time of the crime. Unfortunately, you may not be set free. You may be sent to a psychiatric institution instead of prison.
Filing a Civil Suit for Malicious Prosecution
Once you prove you were falsely accused, you can file a civil suit against the person who filed the false charges. You might win monetary compensation for pain and suffering, loss of reputation, emotional distress, or embarrassment.
Also, you might recover any attorney’s fees, lost wages due to your time in court or jail, and litigation costs. You might even get awarded payment of medical or psychological therapy costs, court fees, and other expenses.
It is illegal in most states to defame another person. Any words used with the intent to encourage contempt toward yourself or your company can qualify you for a defamation suit.
Written, published, visual, or internet-based depictions are considered libel. Verbal defamation is called slander. According to Texas and federal law, suing for defamation provides for civil penalties.
Why You Need an Attorney
The critical goal for defending yourself against wrongful allegations is to undermine the prosecution. You must prove reasonable doubt that you committed the crime in question. An attorney has the resources to help you mount a pretrial investigation and a solid defense.
An experienced criminal attorney like Greg Tsioros can help you convince the prosecution to drop all charges or file lesser charges. Even if you admit guilt, you may not be held responsible. Your lawyer guides you to the appropriate plea and defense.