How to Handle False Accusations
Life can turn upside down when someone makes false accusations against you.
False accusations can result in the loss of your relationships, employment, and liberty.
This guide provides steps you can take if you are facing false allegations.
If someone made false accusations against you in New York City, contact Cody Warner, P.C. for a free consultation. We defend clients facing false accusations, and we commence litigation to hold people responsible when they make false allegations against our clients.
Defending Against False Accusations
False accusations come in many different forms and can result in a wide range of consequences.
Ultimately, the nature of the false accusation will affect the right course of action to deal with the accusation. Sometimes the accusation can just be ignored, while sometimes you need a legal team to defend against the false accusation and bring the false accusers to justice.
When false accusations are serious enough to involve the court system, they typically fall into one of two categories: civil or criminal.
A criminal action occurs when the government prosecutes a person for a crime. A person may need to defend against false accusations in criminal court when a person falsely alleges that the defendant committed a crime.
A civil action occurs when a party sues another party in court for relief. The relief can include things such as monetary compensation for damages or injunctive relief to get a party to stop doing something. A person may need to defend against false accusations in civil court, or he may commence action in civil court to bring a false accuser to justice.
Basic Strategies for Any False Accusation
The following strategies can be effective to show that the accusations against you are false, regardless of whether the matter is in civil or criminal court.
Obtain Independent Evidence
Independent, objective evidence that contradicts the accuser’s story can completely undermine the false accusation. We live in a world that is becoming less and less private. For instance, video cameras are everywhere, and our movements and activities are tracked by our phones. Although this technology reduces our privacy, the silver-lining is that it is oftentimes easier to find objective evidence that shows that the accuser is lying. Therefore, it’s always critical to thoroughly investigate any false accusation to uncover facts that contradict the accuser’s accusation.
Make the Accuser Provide Details
When an accuser makes up an incident, he or she probably only makes up the critical elements of the accusation.
However, if your lawyer cross-examines the accuser (at a deposition or trial) for more details surrounding the incident, the accuser will be forced, on the spot, to fabricate many more details that the accuser may not have taken the time to formulate. Such questions can include things like, who else was there, what were the other people wearing, had the person ever done X before, and so on. Although these facts might not be part of the accuser’s core claim, his or her off-the-cuff answer might be inconsistent with other evidence that the accuser doesn’t even know about.
If you can show that the accuser has changed their story over time, or their testimony is inconsistent with other evidence, then you cast doubt on their accusation. Exposing inconsistencies is one of the most effective ways to show that a person is making false accusations against you.
Sometimes people lie about incidents because they are biased against someone. For instance, if a person finds out their partner is cheating on them, then they might understandably hate the partner. This anger and bias against the partner may make them more prone to lie and make false accusations.
Show Motives to Lie
When a person has a motive to lie against someone, that motive may undermine that person’s credibility. For instance, say that a couple is going through a bitter divorce and they both want fill custody of the children. A spouse may have a motive to make false allegations against the partner to increase the odds of getting child custody.
Expose the Accuser’s Character
Some people are simply more trustworthy than others. If you have a clean record and your accuser has a lengthy criminal record, has a proven history of making false accusations, or has serious mental health or substance abuse issues, then those facts can affect whether the accuser can be trusted.
Defending Against False Criminal Accusations
Perhaps the most serious false accusations are criminal accusations. When you are facing criminal allegations, your liberty is at stake.
All of the above-mentioned tactics for exposing false accusations can work with criminal accusations.
One silver-lining of criminal cases is that the standard of proof is very high. To be convicted of a crime, the prosecution must prove your guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, the jury doesn’t decide which side they believe more. The jury must decide whether there is reason to doubt the allegations. You don’t have to prove your innocence. So long as you can show reasons that the accuser is not credible or the evidence doesn’t add up, you have a shot to beat your case.
Common False Criminal Accusations
Based on their nature, certain criminal offenses more commonly involve false accusations than other offenses.
Domestic Violence is the most common kind of criminal case involving false allegations. The reasons for that are simple. Relationships involve strong emotions. So, when relationships break down, people can easily get emotional and make up false accusations or exaggerate the facts.
Alleged victims of sex offenses sometimes mischaracterize what occurred out of embarrassment, shame, or anger. In these cases, what was actually communicated to the defendant is crucial, and unfortunately victims can sometimes distort these facts.
Assault allegations—even when outside the context of domestic violence—are oftentimes false. A typical way that innocent people are charged with assault is when they act in self-defense and win the fight. In most fights, both parties will say that the other person started it. Therefore, the police will often arrest whoever caused the most injuries, even if that person didn’t start the fight. In that case, the winner of the fight has to fight false accusations of assault.
Defending Against Non-Criminal False Accusations
Non-criminal false accusations can be just as devasting as criminal allegations, and they come in many different varieties.
Common non-criminal allegations that can involve the court system include:
- Personal Injury
- Sexual Harassment
- Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
- Breach of Contract
In theory, any case in court can involve false accusations. Ultimately, the previously mentioned tactics to handle false accusations can be effective tools in any case where you want to show that the accuser has made false allegations.
Suing a Person for Making False Accusations
If you are facing false allegations, it’s natural to focus on defending yourself. However, you can turn your shield into a sword to get justice for the false accusations.
You may be able to sue the accusers for your pain, suffering, economic damages, and loss of liberty.
If the police arrested you after falsely alleging you committed a crime, you may be able to sue the police for false arrest.
False arrest occurs when:
- The police intended to confine the person;
- The person was conscious of the confinement;
- The person did not consent to the confinement; and
- The confinement was not otherwise privileged.
Your compensation for a false arrest case will depend on many factors, such as how many hours you were in jail, whether you were injured, and whether the police were especially corrupt by doing things like planting evidence on you.
If the police also commenced a prosecution against you that was not supported by probable cause, you can sue them for malicious prosecution.
Malicious prosecution occurs when:
- Person 1 commences a prosecution against Person 2;
- Person 1 lacked probable cause to believe the prosecution would succeed;
- Person 1 acted with malice; and
- The prosecution terminated in favor of Person 2.
When the person who makes false accusations against you isn’t the police, a common way to fight back is to sue for defamation.
Defamation occurs when:
- A person makes a false statement;
- The false statement is made to a third-party without privilege or authorization; and
- The false statement causes special harm or is per se defamation.
If you suffered losses from a false accusation, you may be able to bring forward a defamation claim against your false accuser. Your compensation will depend on how much suffering and financial losses you are able to establish.
If someone made false accusations against you, Cody Warner, P.C. can help. We defend people who are facing false accusations in court, and we commence lawsuits against false accusers to get justice for our clients. Contact us for a free consultation and learn how we can help you.