No one ever wants to be falsely accused of a crime, but it can happen to anyone.
If it should happen to you, make sure you follow these five vital steps.
Take the Charges Seriously and Take Control of How You Feel
The first step you should take when falsely accused of a crime involves taking a deep breath, realizing that the accusations are serious, and preparing yourself mentally for the journey ahead.
You’re sure to be feeling all kinds of emotions, such as anger, worry, and anxiety. While that’s perfectly natural, you need to take control of your emotions as best as you can so that you approach things with a practical and calmer mindset.
By taking the charges seriously from the start and taking control, you’ll be in a better position to make decisions and take actions that will improve the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
Contact a Lawyer
As soon as you have been accused of a crime, you should get in touch with a reputable lawyer who has experience in handling your kind of case.
For example, if you’re charged with a sex offense, contact a lawyer who has experience in dealing with the specific kind of offense you have been accused of, whether that is sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, or lewdness.
The sooner you find an attorney, the better. Without one, it will be difficult to know what to do for the best to help you improve your chances of proving your innocence.
Follow Your Lawyer’s Recommendations
Your lawyer will know the best way of handling your case, so make sure you follow your attorney’s advice.
He or she may be able to intervene by discussing your case with the police or prosecutor, and even provide information that convinces them that the wrong person has been accused, depending on the precise details of your case.
Other times, your attorney may recommend taking no action while waiting to see if the prosecutor comes up with enough evidence to charge you with the crime.
In either situation, the case against you could potentially be dropped. But if it does proceed to the courtroom, your lawyer will have the skill and expertise to defend you and present your case to a judge or jury.
During this waiting stage, you should also follow all of your lawyer’s other advice. For instance, he or she will probably ask you to gather relevant physical evidence and documentation that could help you in your defense.
Your lawyer will also investigate your case thoroughly and gather evidence and witness statements.
Consider Plea Bargaining
While it’s sure to seem unjust, sometimes your lawyer will recommend that you enter into a plea agreement.
The choice is yours alone, but it can often make sense to enter into a plea agreement in which you plead guilty to a lesser charge instead of facing the risk of a conviction and a longer sentence.
Be ready for this possibility to come up. When it does, make sure you discuss things thoroughly with your lawyer so that you understand everything and make the right choice for your specific circumstances.
Know What Not to Do
Just as important as knowing what steps to take when you’re falsely accused of a crime is knowing what not to do.
If you take certain actions, you could make your situation worse.
Therefore, make sure you never destroy any evidence, even if you think it could harm your case. And never talk to or have contact with any of the victims and witnesses that are involved in the case.
Also, you should never talk to the police, the prosecution, or a criminal investigator without your lawyer present. You should never consent to tests like DNA tests without your attorney present either.
By knowing and remembering what to do and what not to do after being falsely accused of a crime, you stand a better chance of attaining the best possible outcome.