DUI arrests don't always lead to convictions in court. Police officer mistakes, faulty breathalyzers and crime lab errors may get your charges reduced or dismissed. Visit our California DUI page to learn more.
1. What should I do if I was falsely accused of being a sex offender?
If you are falsely accused of sexual assault, or some other sex crime, you should do the following:
Speak with a criminal defense lawyer: A skilled attorney will provide you with valuable legal advice on how to best protect your rights and interests within the criminal justice system. Note that most attorneys provide potential clients with free consultations, and all of your communications are protected by the attorney-client relationship. Hiring an attorney is not an admission of guilt – it is you exercising your right to protect yourself.
Take notes on the alleged incident: Document any incident or event that forms the basis of the accusations. Write down as many details as you can recall about the event, particularly if alcohol or drugs were involved. If possible, do not wash the clothes you wore during the incident – your attorney can order forensic testing on them. Also turn over to your attorney any videos or photographs you have from the time in question, and your attorney can also search for any surveillance video of the area. These details can help establish a legal defense to any sex crime charges that the state may file. When done, only show your notes to your sex crimes lawyer.
Understand the nature of the accusations: Criminal charges involving sex offenses are often quite severe. Convictions can easily result in prison time and sex offender registration.1 Therefore, if false allegations surface, you should take the time to understand what an accuser is actually accusing you of. You can learn what an alleged victim is asserting by speaking with your lawyer. You can also try and obtain a copy of a police report if one was filed.
2. What should I avoid doing if falsely accused of a sex crime?
There are three things you should not do if you face false allegations of a sex offense. These are:
Do not talk to law enforcement: Never talk to the police or any personnel involved in a police investigation. You may inadvertently volunteer incriminating information, or the police may later misuse your statements. A possible result is the filing of a criminal case.
Do not make contact with the accuser: Steer clear of the alleged victim or accuser. Also avoid contacting the accuser (this includes via text messages, social media, and emails). Confrontations could lead to additional allegations or even criminal charges. Also do not vent on social media or let your emotions show because any public outbursts can be used against you.
Do not ignore the accusations: Again, allegations of a sex offense can grow quite serious and lead to decades in prison. Do not pretend that they will go away without any repercussions. Seek legal representation to try and quiet the accusations as quickly and effectively as possible. Plus do not try to fight the case yourself – an experienced attorney knows how to manage the legal process as discretely as possible.
3. Why would someone make false accusations?
You can raise false accusations of sexual contact or sexual intercourse for a variety of reasons.
An accuser may falsely blame you for a sex crime out of:
to be part of the #MeToo movement.2
People may also make false accusations in a domestic violence case to try and gain leverage in a child custody dispute or to get you out of their home.
Note, though, that you do not have to face these accusations with silence. You have the right to defend yourself.
If you are facing false allegations, you and your defense attorneys can try and contest the allegations by saying:
there is insufficient evidence to support the accusations,
the alleged “victim” consented to any sexual contact or the alleged incident,
you are the victim of mistaken identity, and the accuser made a false identification,
you have no criminal history that would support the allegations, and/or
a family member/friend/bystander saw the alleged incident and can testify that no sex crime occurred.
Remember, you are presumed innocent. Prosecutors have the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very high bar.
For example, people facing sexual assault allegations in California could see penalties of up to four years in state prison and sex offender registration for life (California Penal Code 243.4 PC). In Arizona, people accused of sexual assault (or rape), could face up to seven years in prison and lifetime sex offender registration requirements (ARS 13-1406B and ARS 13-3821).
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.