Being wrongfully accused of a crime can be a very stressful situation, especially if the crime was severe. This may end up in jail time or a very costly fine. Although being falsely accused of a crime seems like something rare, it does happen a lot. Back in 2018, there were at least 151 people falsely accused of crimes.
A Virginia State Police crime report in 2020 revealed a 23,4% homicide boost compared to the previous year. This happened despite the violent crime offenses going down by 1.9%.
But many individuals may be accused of crimes they did not commit. So, they might consider hiring a criminal defense attorney to help them during the case. You should check this page for more information on attorneys if you ever find yourself in this situation and need to prove your innocence.
So, what can you do if you have been wrongfully accused of a crime?
1. Stay Silent
It can be very stressful to be falsely accused of a crime – therefore, you may be very tempted to talk about it and declare your innocence. After all, anyone would want to tell their side of the story.
But it is wiser to take advantage of your right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any questions that the police may ask, especially not before you talk to your lawyer. Any inconsistencies in your story will only make things look worse and will make you look guilty.
Also, the police may end up twisting your words or misconstruing what you said to them, as there were cases like this in the past. You do not want your statement to harm your case. Stay silent and do not give any details until you talk to a lawyer.
2. Remain Calm
Even if you are innocent in a case, being stressed and panicked is completely normal. You never know what’s going to happen, and on top of that, you also have to gather as much information as possible to prove your innocence.
So, it is very easy to lose control and react in certain ways when you’re emotional. But you must stay calm if you do not want to give the prosecutors ammunition to use against you. Losing control and acting based on your anger, stress or fear can be very harmful for your case, so do your best to stay calm and relaxed.
3. Hire a Lawyer
Now is the best time to hire an attorney. Representing yourself can be a huge mistake, especially considering the other party may try to frame you in a negative light. You may not be able to get out of that situation unless you know the law perfectly.
A lawyer can protect your rights and will make sure the police do their job and keep investigating the matter. They will protect you from things like any abusive admission extractions and any false confessions. Also, the attorney can help present evidence properly and will be able to explain any misunderstandings.
Hiring an attorney will help you get the truth out there.
4. Do Not Try to Reach Out to Witnesses or the Victim
You may be tempted to talk to the person who accused you of a crime, but this is not the best thing to do. It can make things worse, as you may end up being accused of trying to intimidate the victim.
Ideally, you should talk to your lawyer first before you try sorting things out with the victim. They will know what you should do.
5. Collect as Much Evidence as You Can
If you have any good evidence that can prove your innocence, collect it. Then, show it to your attorney. The lawyer can help present it to the police and the court.
Also, even if you have any evidence that may not show you in the best light, you should not destroy it. The chances are that the evidence is not even that incriminatory and destroying it will make you look worse and will harm your case.
6. Consider Taking a Polygraph Test
Taking a polygraph test can help when you are trying to prove your innocence. See if you can pass this test or not. A favorable result can then be used to prove that the accuser’s claims are false.
What’s even better is that the results of the polygraph test can stay private – which is great if you don’t pass the test. However, if you pass, you can also get your lawyer to share the results with the prosecutors.
Bear in mind that the accusers may not accept your results and may ask you to take a new test at their office. Passing the second test will help you, as it will weaken the prosecutors’ case. They may even dismiss the charges, depending on the case.
7. Do Not Accept Voluntary Testing or Searches
You have the right to refuse voluntary searches or testing unless it is ordered by the court. Sure, you may think that a DNA sample is enough to prove your innocence, but in reality, it is hard to imagine what the police may end up finding. The police should also get a warrant before they can do any searches.
8. Know that Being Innocent Is Not Always Enough
Law enforcement will consider you guilty when you are charged with a crime, and sadly, the innocent do not always have the easiest time when dealing with the criminal justice system. Proving your innocence can be very challenging even when you know you are innocent. So, you should be aware that it is all going to take some time.
The Bottom Line
It can be very stressful to deal with a wrongful accusation, but if you do things right, you will be able to prove your innocence. Hire an experienced lawyer and do not do anything without consulting your attorney first. The last thing you want is to do something that makes you look guilty.