Falsely accused of a crime – Any run in with the law can be a scary and stressful thing. Being charged with a crime has lasting consequences and may negatively impact your life for some time. What can make the situation even worse however, is when you have been falsely accused of a crime. Contrary to what certain people may think, this in fact happens all the time.
The dangers of false accusations are so real that the United States Constitution has several provisions the ensure that it is very “difficult” for the government to convict a defendant of a crime. Just some of these considerations include, the right to an attorney, the presumption of innocence, and the right to confront your accusers. Further, having to prove someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is another method hoping to prevent someone falsely accused of being convicted, yet it still happens.
In this blog, we will discuss being falsely accused of a crime. Like all our blogs, this is intended for general informational purposes only, and not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney.
How do false charges, or false accusations happen?
It is very easy for a law enforcement officer to start investigating the possibility of a crime. Investigations commence when a law enforcement officer witnesses something “suspicious” on their own, or from someone calling law enforcement. Once the investigation begins, the goal is to clear the investigation. One of the main ways to clear an investigation is by making an arrest. Because of this, most questions, fact finding missions, and behavior exhibited is for that purpose. Unfortunately, law enforcement officers are at the mercy of imperfect information just alike anyone else. A few examples of this include but are not limited to the following:
- Sometimes witnesses who are providing information to law enforcement make mistakes – mistakes can be due to bias, faulty memory, fear, panic, lack of context, not be able to accurately see, not being able to accurately hear, and many other reasons.
- Sometimes witnesses who are providing information to law enforcement are lying – A lying witness may motivated by greed, fear, jealously, anger, self-interest, and many other reasons.
- Sometimes victims are lying and/or mistaken – This can be for a variety of reasons
- *North Carolina has a process where someone can seek a private warrant against someone else (without police involvement), and have a warrant for their arrest issued.
- Sometimes law enforcement officers can be mistaken, lying, or have their own bias.
- Sometimes physical evidence can be faulty due to a variety of reasons.
Don’t try to clear things up yourself
If you have been charged with a crime, you should hire an attorney immediately and refrain from talking to the police without your attorney’s advice and presence. The right to remain silent is what can prevent you from making statements that will damage your case.
If you are being questioned by a law enforcement officer after you have been accused of a crime, chances are they are not trying to “clear things up” rather, they are trying to get what they need from the arrest and to later help with the conviction.
Criminal law can be very complicated. If you have been charged with a crime in North Carolina or South Carolina, and are seeking representation, contact us.