About 6 percent of state prisoners report that they’ve been wrongly convicted. That’s a worrying statistic, given the implications of going to prison today.
Getting locked up in jail makes you lose contact with your loved ones, and your career and reputation suffer significantly—and all that for a crime you didn’t commit. If you’re lucky, you could get exonerated at some point when new evidence comes to light, but sometimes tremendous damage has already been done.
In this guide, we tell you how to defend yourself against false accusations, especially when you’ve been accused of assault. Read on to learn more.
What Is Assault?
Different states define assault differently. The most popular approach is that assault is a crime that involves a person intentionally making someone fear that he or she is about to suffer physical harm.
Under this approach, placing someone in fear of bodily harm is an assault crime, whether or not the victim suffers physical injury. Police officers can thus intervene and make an arrest without waiting for the aggressor to strike the victim.
Types of Criminal Assault
Assault can take different forms that are recognized in many jurisdictions. These include:
This crime involves lawfully attacking or attempting to attack someone using force or violence and causing physical injury to them. The attacker, in this case, uses weapons and may cause serious injury. An example of felonious assault is assault and battery.
In simple assault, no weapon is used. Any resulting injuries to the victim are usually minor.
Physical assault happens where the victim sustains grievous bodily harm. This kind of assault often happens prior to the commission of an aggravated assault or murder.
This crime occurs when the attacker uses a weapon and some amount of force.
Sexual assault is where the victim uses force on the victim, thereby raping, molesting, sodomizing, or carrying out some sort of sexual offense.
Verbal assault is a non-physical, verbal attack that causes emotional, psychological, or mental harm to the victim.
How to Defend Yourself Against False Accusations
As you can see, criminal assault is a serious offense that can have devastating results. That’s why you should never take any accusation of assault lightly. Even if you know you’re innocent, don’t think that a court of law can never find you guilty.
In this section, we give you tips on how to defend against false accusations.
Get a Grip of Yourself
False assault charges can be upsetting, given what’s at stake. However, you should try as much as possible to keep your cool, so you don’t miss what’s happening.
Take deep breaths and calm down. If you’re going to defend yourself successfully, you need to listen to what’s being said. Any emotional outbursts at this point will only complicate things.
Avoid any dramatics. You’re going to need as much energy as possible to fight the charges.
Cooperate Fully With the Investigation
Since you’re innocent, your first instinct will most likely be to stonewall the investigation. Often, the person making the false accusation is someone at work who’s vying for your position. It could also be that the accuser is seeking publicity or wants to ruin your reputation.
It’s vital that you give your full cooperation to the investigators because whether you do it or not, the investigation will still continue. Having your side of the story on record can help you clear your name.
If you have witnesses, give the investigators a list of their names.
If There’s Anything You Did Do Wrong, Confess
A coworker could accuse you of sexual assault immediately following the breakup of a consensual sexual relationship. In case there’s a policy in your organization that discourages dating between coworkers, don’t lie about your previous relationship with the accuser. The truth will come out at some point, so it’s best to confess what you did wrong as early as possible.
You might lose your job for breaking the company policy, of course. But that’s a lot better than getting fired for sexual assault.
Give an Apology, Even If You Didn’t Do Wrong
It could be that you made an inappropriate joke, and a thin-skinned coworker thought it was verbal assault or sexual. In such an instance, it’s best to apologize.
Sexual harassment law doesn’t forbid you from telling a dirty joke or having sex with a coworker. However, it does say that you can’t do any of these things if the other person is offended or doesn’t want it.
The challenge is, you may not always know if what you’re doing is unwanted before you do it. The moment you realize the other person is offended, apologize right away, and refrain from what you’ve done in the future.
Plan Your Defense
As soon as you learn that you’ve been falsely accused of assault, take the time to organize your defense. The accusation could just be a misunderstanding, a miscommunication, or a mistake.
Start planning your comeback with relevant notes, receipts, records, bank accounts, phone records, and so on. You want to have as much evidence as possible. You might even need to call on witnesses to your version of the story.
Hire an Assault Attorney
In many instances, the truth comes out quickly, and the accusations are cleared up by the investigation. But sometimes it doesn’t happen, and you could lose your job over the accusation.
Depending on how serious the accusation is, you can opt to hire an assault lawyer to defend you. This option sure does cost money, but the cost of losing your job, going to prison, and having your reputation suffer forever is much higher.
An assault attorney has a good understanding of the specific assault laws in your state and can provide valuable guidance throughout the process.
You Can Beat False Accusation Charges
Accusations of assault can have catastrophic consequences, so it’s best to act accordingly to fight them. With the above tips on how to defend yourself against false accusations, you can boost your charges of coming out victorious.
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