What to Do if Someone Falsely Accused You of a Federal Crime

The presumption of innocence means that prosecutors must prove that a defendant is considered innocent until the prosecution can prove they are guilty. However, the concept of innocent until proven guilty cannot always save someone from the ramifications of being falsely accused. Being accused of a crime, especially of a serious federal crime, can completely upend an innocent person's life. Even if you are not officially charged with a crime or convicted, the association of participating in a federal crime can negatively impact your life.

While there are laws in North Carolina that prevent someone from knowingly making a false report of a crime to law enforcement officers, false accusations can and do happen. They happen more often than many people realize and can destroy innocent victims' lives. If you have been falsely accused of a federal crime, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and attempt to clear your name, even before you are officially charged.

If you suspect that you may be charged with a crime you did not commit or have already been made aware that you are being investigated, you should hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you protect your rights and safeguard your freedom and reputation.

Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

As soon as you learn that someone is falsely accusing you of a crime or that you are under investigation, you should first hire an attorney. Remember, you have the right to remain silent. Only talk to the police after consulting your attorney first. You should also avoid discussing the situation on social media. Anything you say on a public platform or even a private account can be discovered by the prosecution and used against you in court.

Take Strategic Actions to Prevent the Case From Proceeding to Court

A skilled criminal defense attorney can work diligently to prevent prosecutors from bringing charges against you in the first place. When an accusation is made, investigators typically take time to gather evidence and determine whether a crime has been committed. They will also identify the most reasonable charges.

During this window, your attorney can begin presenting evidence challenging the prosecution narrative while negotiating with a prosecution. When the prosecutors know they do not have enough evidence to prove that you committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, they will be less likely to pursue charges against you.

Challenge the Accuser's Credibility

If you have been falsely accused of a federal crime in your case does proceed to trial, your attorney can work to discredit the accuser. An attorney can present evidence that challenges the accuser's credibility and questions their motivation. For example, suppose the accuser has a history of lying or has something to gain by falsely accusing you of committing a crime. Your attorney can put your accuser on the stand and ask questions while they are under oath. By doing so, your attorney can make your accuser look unreliable and untrustworthy and the eyes of the judge and jury.

Consider Filing a Civil Lawsuit

You may consider filing a civil lawsuit for damages against the person who falsely accused you of the crime. If you pursue a malicious prosecution claim, you can sue the person who initially brought the case against you if he or she initiated the criminal case despite it having no merit. In this type of lawsuit, you can claim that the false accusations have caused you financial damages and pursue compensation for those damages. Suppose the person who accused you has publicly made false statements that have harmed your reputation and led to financial damages. In that case, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit for defamation.

Find Out How Our Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help

Being falsely accused of a federal crime can be devastating and stress-inducing. The steps you take after being falsely accused can help you protect yourself, your freedom, and your reputation. The Charlotte criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, understand the burdens and frustrations innocent people face when false accusations have been made against them. When you work with us, we will immediately begin developing a strategy to protect your rights and reputation. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation case evaluation and learn more about how we can fight for you.