Every year I have someone who calls my office and says, for example: “The police want to talk to me about a girl I had sex with…. She is saying I took advantage of her….” or “ “He is saying I hit him with the frying pan, but he was…..” The panic in their voice is palpable. The first statement is followed usually by “But I am a _________ (navy pilot, business owner, pastor, high school senior, teacher, stay at home mom, etc.). I would never….”
Neither law enforcement nor prosecutors care what you do or what your background is. Once the allegations are made, the investigators are convinced you did the evil thing and they are now setting out to prove it.
Considerations When You're Accused of Sexual or Physical Abuse
Before we dive in, it's important to understand that not all physical abuse is sexual, and not all sexual abuse is physical. These crimes are committed in a wide variety of ways. They're very serious crimes and nothing in this article is intended to make light of these experiences.
Unfortunately, innocent people get arrested and charged with these crimes. These are serious accusations that carry a lot of weight in both legal and social spheres – many people never recover emotionally or socially from just being accused, let alone convicted. If you are ever unfortunate enough to be accused like this, you should be aware that innocuous and innocent statements and actions can be used against you by law enforcement and the prosecution to magnify the appearance of guilt.
Don't Try to Litigate With the Alleged Victim
Abuse is often a very personal interaction. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), four out of five acts of sexual violence are committed by someone known to the victim. This makes these cases inherently personal and oftentimes the accused may try to deal directly with the person or their family who made the accusation.
Never try to litigate or negotiate your case with the victim or their family. Anything you say to them can be used against you, especially if you try to convince them that what happened wasn't a crime. You shouldn't reach out to apologize, to try to convince them to change their mind, or to get information out of them. You should especially never threaten them.
It's also very possible you will have a temporary restraining order placed against you. You shouldn't contact them without a restraining order but this is doubly important if an order has been brought against you.
Don't Try to Wipe Evidence
Do you have old conversations, text messages, or voicemails that can seem incriminating? Do you have pictures or videos that would appear incriminating? This evidence can help in some cases but incriminating evidence obviously puts you in a tough spot. Regardless of what the evidence you possess looks like, you should never delete pictures, videos, texts, calls, or accounts associated with the accusations.
You run the risk of accumulating additional charges for the destruction of evidence when you do this. Not only that but the courts and juries will often make deductions about your guilt if it's revealed that you deliberately destroyed or manipulated evidence. After all, who would delete evidence that supports their defense?
Don't Talk to Anyone Without An Attorney
We saved the best (and most obvious) for last. Your very first call should be to an attorney once you learn of accusations that have either been filed or will be filed against you. You shouldn't call your sibling or your best friend or your parent unless it's to get contact information for an attorney.
Some people make the mistake of assuming their family and friends will be on their side – just to find out a conversation they had about the incident was turned into evidence against them. Your attorney will work with you on a plan going forward.
You should be honest with your attorney and provide all evidence you have related to the incident so they can prepare the best defense possible for your situation. We know many accusations are flat-out false and intended to do harm to a person's reputation and will fight for you to get the best result possible.
Our team knows the climate surrounding these cases has heightened in recent years. Many women and men are finally getting justice for atrocious acts committed against them. Unfortunately, some are taking advantage of this momentum to bring down people who never intended to or committed harm to them. Contact Malcolm Anthony, P.A. today to protect your freedom and preserve your future.