Studies show that around 10,000 people are falsely convicted for serious crimes every year. If you've been falsely accused of a crime, it's time to be proactive about your legal rights in order to avoid becoming one of those statistics. Being accused of a crime you didn't commit is a horrifying experience, but it's important to stay calm and take charge of the situation. Here are five things to do when you've been falsely accused of a crime:
Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
While you may be tempted to represent yourself since you know you haven't committed a crime, think again. When you're falsely accused of a crime a lot is at stake, potentially including your freedom. It's imperative to hire an attorney immediately.
Your criminal defense lawyer will help ensure your rights are protected, and will be there when you are questioned by the police to make sure you don't accidentally incriminate yourself. Your attorney will also help ascertain if you have been officially charged with a crime, what the trial process will be like, and what the potential consequences are.
Enlist Help Raising Funds
Legal fees can quickly add up, and you may be too busy dealing with your legal defense to raise money. Besides selling assets and gathering whatever savings you have, you may wish to enlist the help of friends and family in raising funds. One option is for the people in your life to donate privately by giving money to you directly or through a fund set up at your bank.
Another idea is for you or a loved one to set up an online fundraising site. An online fundraising site can potentially raise much more money because it can be shared through email and social media, reaching people who you may not even know. Strangers may be compelled to donate to your cause, especially if they are convinced you are falsely accused.
Know Your Legal Rights
While your criminal defense attorney will be in charge of ensuring your rights are protected, you have a role in this as well. The more aware you are of your rights, the less likely they will be violated. For example, when being questioned by the police you do not have to say anything and can request that your lawyer be present. This will help prevent you from saying something incriminating.
You are also allowed to require an official search warrant before allowing police to search your home. You can read up on other rights of the accused here.
Make a Plan with Your Family
While ideally you will not be convicted of a crime you didn't commit, it's wise to have a plan in place just in case the worst should happen. Some practical details to plan ahead in case you serve jail time include:
- Who will look after your house/pets/vehicle?
- Will your spouse or other family member be able to pay your bills while you are in jail?
- Who will visit you and how often?
- What is the best way to explain this difficult news to your children?
Consider Suing After Your Case is Resolved
If you are exonerated of the false charges, you may wish to look into filing a defamation lawsuit against your accuser. This can be an especially good idea if the false accusations have damaged your professional or personal reputation, and caused you to lose actual or potential income. Meet with an attorney to determine if you have a strong libel or slander defamation case.
By following these five steps, you will be doing what you can to legally protect yourself from false criminal accusations. For more information, go to a site like http://www.csclarklaw.com.