When false allegations of sexual harassment or some type of sex crime is alleged against an individual, he/she should protect their rights during an investigation and consult legal defense as soon as possible.
Accused of a False Sex Crime
Any accusation of a sex crime must be taken seriously, whether it is true or false. In most states, including Minnesota, sex crime offenses have harsh penalties if a person is convicted. Unfortunately, false allegations of a sex crime can lead to an arrest and a conviction, sending an innocent person to jail for a crime they did not commit.
A false accusation of a sex crime can be devastating to the life of person who is accused, even is he/she is acquitted of the crime. Often, the mere suggestion that a person has done something is enough to convict them in the court of public opinion. With public websites that identify charges and offenders with arrest mug shots, it’s difficult for a wrongfully accused person to protect their reputation. The stigma of a sex crime accusation can have life-long consequences that lead to loss of a job and future employment opportunities, housing problems, public ridicule, and defamation.
Defending Against False Allegations
If falsely accused and arrested for a sex crime, it is important to follow certain guidelines for maximum protection while the facts in the case are under review. Following these guidelines can help to prove innocence.
Consult a Lawyer
Anyone accused and arrested for a sex crime should consult a lawyer for legal advice and guidance as soon as possible. While some Minnesota sex crimes are considered misdemeanor offenses, others are considered felonies with serious penalties. In Minnesota, first-degree through fourth-degree sex crimes are felony offenses that require proper legal defense from a St Paul criminal lawyer. Convictions for these offenses have fines ranging from $20,000 to $40,000, and prison sentences ranging from 10 to 30 years.
Maintain Silence During an Arrest
If arrested, police will inform an offender of his/her rights. Under Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights, a person has: the right of protection against self-incrimination; the right to a jury trial; and the right to confront witnesses. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects people from being compelled to give testimony that could incriminate them. During an arrest, it’s important to maintain silence for self-protection, but be cooperative with law enforcement as much as possible. In some cases, police may use silence itself as incriminating evidence. Legal guidance from a St Paul criminal lawyer will help to prevent this.
Gather Evidence to Prove Innocence
Evidence to prove innocence in a criminal case is imperative. If the case proceeds to a jury trial, the prosecutor will be well-prepared with evidence to support a conviction. A St Paul criminal lawyer can build a defense case based on evidence to support an acquittal in a charge based on false sex crime allegations. A defense lawyer can gather evidence, talk to witnesses, prepare proper court documents, and present a strong legal defense to the jury.
Avoid Contact With the Accuser
In some cases, a person falsely accused of a sex crime wants to talk to their accuser, hoping to straighten the matter out or understand the allegation. This is usually a bad idea that makes matters worse. It can actually help the accuser to build a stronger case. Once the false allegation is made, it’s best to avoid all contact with the accuser and leave further contact to a criminal defense lawyer. Even if there is a request for a meeting to settle the matter, it’s best to decline unless the meeting includes a St Paul criminal lawyer providing a defense.
Avoid Plea Deals
A plea deal is an agreement between a criminal prosecutor and a defendant charged with a crime. When the defendant accepts a plea deal, he/she pleads guilty for some or all charges in exchange for a reduction in charges, penalties, and jail sentences. When allegations are false, a defendant should never accept a plea deal. Prosecutors and courts benefit from plea deals because they eliminate jury trials, free up resources, and send a case straight to a judge for sentencing. Unfortunately, defendants who accept plea deals often end up in jail for a crime they did not commit.
In cases involving false sex crime allegations, the accused party can pursue legal remedies against the accuser by filing a civil lawsuit for false allegations. The lawsuit can not relate directly to anything said or done in the criminal prosecution because it’s protected by the litigation privilege. However, false statements made to the police, family, and friends, and public media sources may give rise to civil liability. In jurisdictions that recognize providing false testimony as a civil cause of action for perjury, the accused party may be compensated for additional damages.