Being accused of a crime is always a harrowing situation, especially if you know you’re innocent. Although the legal system is designed to determine the truth, it often fails to meet this expectation, which leaves you facing severe punishment even if the accusations are false. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do; here are a few guidelines.
Most Importantly: Hire a Lawyer
Some people feel that hiring a lawyer is a sign of guilt, but “lawyering up” is simply the most prudent first step to take. You’re entitled to have a lawyer present if you’re being questioned, and the advice your lawyer provides will ensure you don’t fall into potential traps that result in criminal punishment for countless people every year. Small mistakes can lead to disaster, so make sure you’re prepared.
Be on Your Best Behavior
If you’ve been accused of a crime, there’s a good likelihood that you’ll be dealing with additional scrutiny. Make sure to avoid anything that can be construed as a crime. Furthermore, do what’s needed to keep your mental health as strong as possible. Talking with a therapist can help you avoid excessive stress and keep your life intact.
Don’t Discuss the Situation
It can be overwhelmingly tempting to explain why you’re innocent if you’re facing a false accusation, but doing so almost never helps you in the long run. If you have any statements to make, ensure you discuss them at length with a lawyer. In general, avoid speaking with the media if the accusation makes the news, and be extremely cautious with who you confide in.
Preserve All Documentation
Accusations are ultimately judged based on the evidence, so make sure you safely archive and back up any information that pokes holes in the accusations you’re facing. In general, you shouldn’t destroy or delete any communication while you’re under actual or potential investigation: Appearing to hide evidence can have dire consequences over the long term. Even if something seems potentially damaging, make sure you preserve it; it’s likely that your accuser or investigators can gain access to it anyway.
Don’t Contact Your Accuser
It might be tempting to contact your accuser to clear the air, but this tactic is unlikely to provide any benefit. Any form of communication can be misconstrued, making your case more difficult to defend, and changing someone’s mind is notoriously difficult even if the facts are on your side. Even worse, any attempt at communication might be treated as an attempt to harass or intimidate your accuser.
False accusations are inherently unfair, but there’s no way to make them disappear overnight. However, by staying disciplined and ensuring you have a lawyer by your side, it’s likely that justice will ultimately prevail, and you’ll be able to move on with your life.