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False Accusations: What Happens When You’re Wrongly Accused of a Sex Crime

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People automatically have a tendency to assume that anyone accused of a sex crime is guilty. Even so, there are a good number of people who are falsely accused of crimes such as child molestation, sexual assault or sexual misconduct with a minor. There can be far-reaching consequences resulting from a false accusation that will continue long after a trial is over.

Reason for False Accusations

False accusations happen for a number of reasons, and may be intentional or unintentional. A few of the most common reasons people are falsely accused include:

  • Mistaken identity
  • Getting even with someone
  • Attempting to sway a court decision concerning child custody or visitation
  • Extortion
  • Rebelling against parental or teacher authority

One of the first things an attorney will do is to determine whether one or more of these conditions exist. This may involve reviewing witness statements to look for gaps in their story, or performing an investigation on the victim to determine if there is an ulterior motive that is not immediately apparent.

Consequences of Being Wrongly Accused

Individuals who are wrongly accused may suffer mentally, financially and emotionally. Some of the consequences they may suffer include, but are not limited to:

  • Public humiliation
  • Severed relationships with family and friends
  • Loss of child custody or visitation privileges
  • Difficulties finding or keeping a job
  • Harassment
  • Difficulty finding suitable housing
  • Increased risk of homelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or tendencies

Not All Inclusive

Keep in mind that these consequences may be in addition to any legal sanctions a person incurs. When an innocent person serves prison time, he or she may be subjected to severe harassment or physical and sexual abuse while behind bars as well. Harassment and abuse may continue even after a person is released whenever others discover that individual’s profile on a sex offender registry.

Sex Offender Registry

One of the biggest consequences of being wrongfully accused is the requirement to register as a sex offender. Being listed on a sex offender registry can drastically alter the course of one’s life in a number of ways such as:

  • Being unable to pursue certain occupations that are not open to sex offenders
  • Receiving a bar from military service
  • Ineligibility for student loans to pay for college
  • Being banned from voting or owning a firearm
  • Making it difficult to form new relationships

Possible Defenses

It’s extremely important for anyone who is falsely accused of a sex crime to carefully consider any defenses that might be available. A few that are often used to defend sex crimes are:

  • Alibi
  • Mistaken identity
  • Ulterior motive
  • The act was consensual
  • Tainting, which occurs whenever a child is asked leading questions about a sexual encounter
  • A mental incapacity that makes it impossible for the defendant to understand his or her actions

Reform Needed

A number of groups recognize the need for reform in order to prevent people from being wrongly convicted of sex crimes. The Innocence Project believes reform should cover a number of things such as:

  • Forensic science, to ensure DNA evidence is handled and tested ethically
  • The creation of a National Commission on Wrongful Incarceration to address some of the most common causes
  • Promoting innocence reform at the state and federal levels

More work needs to be done in order to raise public awareness about false sex crime accusations. Until then, those who are falsely accused must double up their efforts to preserve their rights and assert their innocence. If you’ve been arrested, do not be mistaken in thinking that since you are innocent, it’s okay to make statements because you have nothing to hide. Invoke your right to remain silent and make your first words ones that you utter to your attorney behind closed doors.

Contact experienced sex crimes attorney Brett Podolsky to protect your rights and help preserve your freedom.

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