How to Defend Yourself Against False Accusations of a Crime in North Carolina

The criminal justice system in the United States functions on the premise of “innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means that when a person is accused of a crime, the criminal court is to consider the defendant innocent until proven otherwise by the prosecution. The prosecution has the burden of proving guilt by leveraging physical evidence and witness testimony, and it must do so beyond any reasonable doubt.

Unfortunately, the mere accusation of a crime can have a damaging effect on the accused, even when they are entirely innocent. False accusations can and do happen, and they damage the criminal justice system by diminishing resources that could be used for handling legitimate cases. False accusations also diminish police resources as officers may be called for a bogus reason and spend time arresting, booking, and transporting an accused individual who didn’t do anything wrong.

If you have been falsely accused of a crime, it is crucial to know the value of criminal defense counsel you can trust. Do not make the mistake of assuming that hiring a defense attorney makes you look guilty. On the other hand, you should also avoid making the mistake of thinking that if you didn’t do anything wrong, there is no way you could be convicted. It’s an unfortunate fact that many people have been falsely accused and subsequently punished due to a lack of defense representation or insufficient defense counsel.

How an Attorney Can Help

It’s important to take full advantage of your right to legal counsel if you have been falsely accused of a crime. While the police will not make arrests for some crimes without evidence, other crimes do not necessarily create easily obtainable physical evidence. Your accuser may have mistaken you for someone else, in which case you will need to prove you are not the person responsible for the crime they reported. It is also possible that your accuser knows you did nothing wrong but has filed a false police report to damage you, both through punishment you do not deserve and harm to your reputation.

If you are arrested on a false accusation, do not try and plead your case to the arresting officers. You are more likely to harm your defense than help it by trying to explain your way out of the situation. The police have no real incentive to assist you, and it is very likely that anything you say could be taken out of context and used against you. Your best option in this situation is to remain silent and comply with the arresting officer’s directions until you are able to speak with a defense attorney.

Once you have legal representation, your attorney can help you gather exculpatory evidence to disprove the accusations against you. They may also seek evidence that proves your accuser knowingly made a false accusation or even falsified evidence. Ultimately, every case is unique, and you could have more opportunities to defend yourself than you initially realize. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is the best way to prevent yourself from facing unjust punishment for a crime you did not commit.

After you have disproved a false accusation, your attorney may direct your attention toward taking legal action against your accuser. If they made their accusation in the hope of you being penalized for a crime you did not commit, you have the right to seek accountability for this experience, and the state is likely to file a criminal case against them as well. You may be able to secure compensation for damage to your reputation and/or business, the emotional stress you endured, your legal expenses, and more.

FAQs

Q: Do You Need to Hire a Defense Attorney to Fight a False Accusation?

A: If you are falsely accused of a crime, do not assume you can prove your innocence. Circumstantial evidence or even falsified evidence may be stacked against you. Hiring an experienced defense attorney is the best option for fighting false accusations of a crime. You may also have grounds for retaliatory legal action against the party that falsely accused you if they did so maliciously.

Q: Can You Be Accused of a Crime Without Proof?

A: Yes, it is possible for anyone to be accused of a crime without proof. It’s possible to face a completely false accusation made intentionally to diminish your reputation and subject you to wrongful punishment, or you could be falsely accused without proof due to mistaken identity. However, to be convicted of a crime, your guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and it would be very difficult for a prosecutor to meet this burden of proof without any evidence.

Q: What Is the Best Way to Prove Your Innocence When Falsely Accused?

A: The best defense against a false accusation is providing contradictory evidence that proves you could not have committed the crime in question or establishing a solid alibi backed by witness testimony and/or physical evidence. Your defense attorney will carefully review the details of the accusation against you and help you discern any and all defensive elements that you could leverage to your benefit.

Q: Is There a Penalty for Falsely Accusing Someone?

A: Intentionally filing a false police report in North Carolina is a Class 2 misdemeanor, and the accuser could face up to 60 days in jail. Additionally, state law allows you to file a lawsuit against your accuser if you can prove they knowingly and maliciously filed the accusation against you. Your attorney could help you hold them accountable for your legal expenses; you may also obtain compensation for their intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Christina Rivenbark & Associates knows how stressful it can be to face an accusation of a crime you did not commit, and it is easy to feel like the system is stacked against you in this situation. If you need help fighting a false accusation, contact us today for more information about the professional legal services we offer clients.

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