November 12, 2020 | Indiana Law
Being falsely accused of a crime means you have been accused of a crime you did not commit. Unfortunately, this is more common than one might think and happens across a range of crimes, from theft to sex crimes to homicide. The injustice can make you feel angry and helpless. It’s understandable that you might be scared about what this means and how to defend yourself.
The reasons for false accusations are as varied as the crimes, but the most common reasons are:
- Memory error (on the part of the accuser)
- Mistaken identity
- Malicious intention
- Misleading evidence such as DNA or fingerprints
- Misconduct by law enforcement or other officials
If you have been falsely accused of a crime, here are five things you should know.
Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
When you know you are innocent, you may think the whole misunderstanding will just go away when you explain that you did not commit the crime. Unfortunately, your innocence may not be that simple to demonstrate, or you wouldn’t be in this situation.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that you do not need an attorney because you know you are innocent. A good criminal defense attorney with experience handling cases where a defendant was accused of a similar crime can build a strategy to fight the accusation. You should not attempt to manage this on your own because there is too much at stake, and you cannot afford to take any risks with your future and freedom.
Move Quickly to Avoid Charges
If you have hired a good attorney, he or she may be able to proactively take steps before you are officially charged with a crime. A local attorney who knows the prosecution and has made deals with them on behalf of other defendants can be a huge asset in your circumstances. Your attorney can assert that the prosecution made an error and present information or evidence that demonstrates they have the wrong person.
Your attorney will likely conduct a thorough investigation to collect as much evidence as possible. Work with your attorney to pull together any evidence that can help prove this was a case of mistaken identity and that you were in fact not at the scene when the crime was committed. Examples of such evidence could be video or camera footage, shopping or parking receipts, email, GPS data, witness accounts, or anything else that you can use to show that you could not have committed the crime because you have an alibi.
Do Not Contact Your Accuser
Although this is a frightening situation and you may be panicking, it is very important that you remain calm and use sound judgment. Actions you take that you think will help you may in fact be ill-advised. For example, it can be tempting to contact accusers or witnesses to ask why they have made false accusations against you or to try to prove your innocence to them. This can hurt your cause more than help. It could even be seen as intimidating and tampering.
Do Not Incriminate Yourself
Falsely accused defendants often make the mistake of speaking freely with officials, thinking they have nothing to hide because they are innocent. When you are facing criminal accusations, you have a right to remain silent. Be sure to exercise that right by not speaking with law enforcement or the prosecution if you are questioned.