Falsely Accused of a Crime? How to Build Your Defense, Avoid Incriminating Actions & Seek Damages for Defamation

Being falsely accused of a crime would make anyone see red, but how you react immediately after motions are filed against you can have a powerful effect on your defense. If you want to beat false charges and possibly seek damages for defamation of character, you'll need to know what to do and what not to do before your hearing.

How Do You Start Building a Defense?

The most important step in forming your defense is to absolutely trust your lawyer. While it can be difficult to feel comfortable giving a stranger your private information, withholding key details about your case from your legal counsel could have disastrous effects when you reach the court room. Presenting your lawyer with the fullest possible account of events will best increase your chances of avoiding a conviction.

If you have records of any contact with the accuser, present these to law firms like Clark & Clark LLC right away. Emails, texts, call records, social media messages, and other verifiable communication can provide important elements of your defense.

If you and your accuser have a legal history, this is also important to your attorney. Even if the court documents between you and the accuser put you in a bad light, your attorney needs to know everything in order to prepare a strong case for your innocence.

Answer any questions from your attorney as fully as you can. If you remember small details about your whereabouts or actions at the time the crime purportedly occurred, include these. It's also important to suggest any people who may be witnesses to your innocence, either because they can confirm your alibi or because they were present when the accused did or said something incriminating.

What Actions Will Hurt You In Court?

Your case in court can be seriously affected by how you respond to the initial accusation. If you don't want to come off as guilty, here are a few knee-jerk reactions you'll need to avoid:

  • Contacting the accuser or witnesses. Allow your lawyer to handle all contact between you and other people involved in your case. If you have any communication one-on-one with the plaintiff or witnesses on the plaintiff's behalf, you may get further accused in court of trying to harass them.
  • Trying to care for evidence yourself. Don't try to safeguard evidence in your own home. If there's even the slightest chance that an item necessary to your case will be damaged or destroyed in your house, let your attorney look after it until the case is over.
  • Consenting to warrantless searches. Cooperating with police officers might make you look a little more innocent, but it opens you up to powerful scrutiny. Unless you want every item in your home documented and displayed in court, it's a good idea to insist that police officers bring a warrant.
  • Agreeing to DNA swabs, blood tests, or fingerprinting. Giving up your fingerprints or DNA may seem like a good way of getting yourself out of an accusation, but in reality it means you'll fall under heavier scrutiny if even one trace of you is found anywhere on the plaintiff's person or possessions. Even accidental contact may result in DNA transfer, but this could be used against you in court. 

Your lawyer can give you more advice about what not to do while you wait to go to your hearing. In general, you should have your attorney on speed dial during this time period for advice on any major decisions you plan to make.

Do You Have a Case for a Defamation Suit?

You may be able to sue your accuser for damages if you have proof of intentional defamation of your character. In order for a defamation case to be viable, you need to have evidence that the plaintiff in your case knows you are innocent or has not done the due diligence to ensure you are not innocent. If your accuser really does believe you are guilty, a defamation suit will not succeed.

If you have witnesses or other evidence to confirm that the plaintiff is not accusing you in good faith, then you'll be able to receive restitution commensurate with the hardship caused by the accusation. This amount will usually include court costs, compensation for mental anguish suffered, and potential lost wages if the accusation cost you your job.

Facing down false charges isn't easy, but it's not impossible either. If you're falsely accused of a crime, keep your head up and contact and attorney right away. You might be able to come out of the ordeal not much worse off than when you started.