12 Things To Know If You're Falsely Accused
Insist on a search warrant, even if you have nothing to hide.
ďCan we search the house?Ē If you know that you have not committed any wrongdoing and have nothing to hide, you may be tempted to answer this question with a ďyes.Ē You may reason that 'the more cooperative I am, the sooner this will be over.' Maybe the officers will even see that Iím innocent, and my family will never be bothered again. Squelch the impulse. Insisting on the warrant is probably the smartest thing you can do. It can tell your lawyer what the police were looking for and if the search wasnít executed properly, having the warrant might make whatever was found ineligible to be introduced as evidence. Remember, itís always best to have physical documentation when youíre dealing with the criminal justice system.
Realize that the criminal justice system can be just as hard on the innocent.
If you watch television shows or movies based around the legal system, you might take it for granted that the law officers, investigators, and prosecutors are going to search for the truth and examine the evidence before prosecuting. -- reality sometimes looks a little different. The criminal justice system in the U.S. is a Ďflow system,' meaning that the system wants to dispose of as many cases as quickly as possible. They do this by negotiating plea bargains. A plea bargain is the quickest and least expensive way for them and for you to end the process. Accepting a plea bargain, even to a lesser offense, however, may mean having a criminal record as well as having conditions imposed on you like alcohol testing, community service, or limits on travel. Would you be willing to do that if you knew you were innocent? If not, you will have a battle to fight and can end up paying financially and emotionally for not playing the game the systemís way.
Expect to be treated like youíre guilty.
Again, what you see on TV and what happens in real life are two different things so donít expect a full-scale Law and Order- or CSI-type investigation. Instead, expect to be prosecuted even if the facts and evidence donít support a guilty verdict. Unless your case is extremely high-profile, itís unlikely that the prosecutor will even review the case file until shortly before the trial. And the prosecutor will proceed even when the supposed victim indicates that he or she prefers to put an end to the proceeding. Meanwhile, you might be forced to live under court-ordered stipulations that resemble nothing so much as parole. Not to mention the fact that you may be in and out of court with your name in the newspaper. Even after being acquitted, it can be a challenge to get the newspaper to run a story announcing your innocence.
Proving your innocence can come with a very high price tag.
Proceeding to trial can double your legal expenses and made the process last twice as long. In contrast, the accuser may not have to pay legal fees, and transportation for them to and from the trial may even be covered. Many families will not have either the financial or emotional resources to successfully undertake this course of action so you need to know the costs in advance before deciding to go ahead. Yes, I know, it seems incredibly unfair--even unbelievable--that an innocent person would have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to prove that he has done nothing illegal. But unfortunately, sometimes thatís reality.
Getting a lawyer doesnít imply guilt. (In fact, innocent people need the most help!)
Chances are, youíve seen a TV show in which it seem like getting representation implies guilt. But if youíre ever falsely accused of a crime in real life, youíve never needed a lawyer more. For all intents and purposes, the legal justice system is like a dangerous foreign country -- so you will need an experienced guide. As an innocent person, you may have no idea whatís going on, what to expect, or how to handle the many obstacles that will be thrown in your path. You most likely arenít equipped to represent yourself in court. So youíll definitely need the help of an experienced professional if you donít want to end up serving time for a crime you didnít commit.
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