This Is What to Do If You Were Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault
There are several things you should do if you were falsely accused of sexual assault. You can learn more by checking out our guide here.
Being accused of sexual assault is one of the most serious accusations you will ever face. Statistics show it to be an accusation that automatically puts you behind the proverbial 8-ball with just 2-10 percent of cases being considered “baseless.”
That makes for a relatively high conviction rate, and that’s enough to scare anyone, innocent or guilty. Before we get into how you can fight these accusations (and we’ll get there soon), let’s first examine the repercussions of a poor defense.
The first and most obvious repercussion you will face is jail time. How much jail time depends on the severity of the crime. Sexual assaults are broken down into a number of classifications, and each state does it differently.
The most serious crimes involve forcible rape. However, “lighter” sentences can also result in jail time ranging from a few years to life in prison.
In addition to jail time, a perpetrator may have to pay restitution to his/her victims. It’s not a given, but victims of sexual assault can sue for monetary compensation. While the penalties can be hefty, they pale in comparison to incarceration and the third and final outcome.
Irreparable Damage to Your Family and Reputation
When you are convicted of a sexually violent crime, it is not just your own reputation that will get dragged through the mud. Your family will feel the effects as well.
You will have to register as a convicted sex offender. Your spouse and children will have to make a decision about whether they wish to support you. If they do, they will have to spend the rest of their lives in the shadow of that conviction.
Hopefully, by now, you are resolved to fight false charges at all costs. There are 10 key steps you will need to take to handle these accusations successfully.
1. Start With the Details
The falsely accused really need to hone in on what the alleged victim is saying. They need to parse every detail and look for inconsistencies and falsehoods on their face. Beyond that, look at your own activities and motivations.
2. Commit It to Writing
As we’ve established, there are degrees to sexual misconduct. One who is accused of inappropriate touching will not face the same charges as one accused of forcible rape. It’s important to get a timeline of events down on paper.
Be very specific as to where you were, what you were doing, who you were with. Try to discredit the accusation on its face by properly accounting for your whereabouts in relation to the victim.
3. Call Your Witnesses
False accusations of sexual assault are generally shown for what they are when you’re able to build a convincing stable of witnesses. Convincing character witnesses or people who can simply establish you in another place will instantly discredit your accuser and win you your rightful freedom.
4. Control Your Temper
Nevertheless, false sexual assault claims are infuriating. This particularly is true when you realize that, too often in this country, you can be “guilty until proven innocent.”
Do not let your temper be your undoing. These cases are emotional, and giving jurors a reason to think you can be volatile and violent may convince them of your guilt when the evidence fails to do so.
Becoming your own worst enemy at these times is the worst thing you can do. Keep calm. Try breathing exercises, prayer time, meditation, or a favorite hobby to regain your inner calm.
5. Trust the Science
False sexual assault accusations often are found baseless due to a lack of scientific evidence. If the evidence cannot establish you did what you’re being accused of, then you’re well on your way to an acquittal. When innocent, trust the science to do its part.
6. Keep Your Spirits Up
Surround yourself with people who believe in your innocence. Take each day one hour at a time. Try to find joy in the simplicities of life rather than getting wrapped up in the big picture or a verdict that’s months down the road and beyond your absolute control.
7. Find An Experienced Attorney
This is a part you can’t afford to gloss over. Work with an attorney who has extensive experience in defending these types of cases and has a clear understanding of what’s at stake. This is not the time to let a junior partner at a large firm or newer attorney gain experience while your future hangs in the balance.
Avoid attorneys who can’t define the range of expectations for your case. Some firms will try to speak vaguely about what your facing because they lack the experience in defending sexual accusations. Inexperienced lawyers also might not be as willing to fight your case as someone who has been down this road before. When it comes to your life and reputation, it’s worth the extra effort to find an experienced legal warrior.
8. Figure Out the Financial Side of Things
These cases are winnable but expect to spend some time in court. That can be expensive. Cost should be an afterthought, though, when you consider what’s at stake.
Never fear. Attorney fees and costs associated with your case can be paid for over time, in reasonable installments.
They can be financed through personal loans, credit cards, arrangements with the attorney. You have options as long as you have your freedom, and you can move on with your life.
9. Don’t Talk to the Police
Sure, you may have to talk with them eventually but not without an attorney present. Your first move when brought in for questioning is to request that you bring your attorney along and have him or her advise you on what types of questions are acceptable to answer.
Police want to clear cases. They can do that by getting any charge, large or small, to stick. It may not matter to them, but what doesn’t matter to them can affect you for the rest of your life.
Guard your innocence. Give it the best fighting chance by only speaking to them in the presence of your representation.
10. Be Your Own Advocate
In other words, carry yourself in the best light. Don’t put yourself into situations where you could be falsely accused, not that it’s ever your fault to be the victim of someone else’s deception.
Still, a history of being accused more than once could start to create a “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” situation. It can also make you an easier target for the next person.
You Have Options If Accused of Sexual Assault
The future can seem uncertain when you’re facing false accusation charges, especially because of how many people out there who’ve already convicted you in their minds. Don’t throw in the towel.
If accused of sexual assault, stand up and fight. The first step to doing that is to contact Matt Alford Law today and get your strong defense in place.