March 6, 2020 | Criminal Law
Why would someone want to make a false accusation? False accusations happen in divorces and child custody cases where one parent thinks the allegation will give them an advantage in court. False accusations can also be made regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, assault, or domestic violence. They can have real consequences both criminally and in civil proceedings.
While you may believe that the truth will always prevail in court, sadly, that is not always the case. Often, the accused person does not know how to defend themselves properly and the accusation has a real effect on their lives. There are steps you can take if you find yourself falsely accused in court. It is important to maintain a cool head, gather evidence, hire a lawyer, and fight back. False accusations are illegal in Kentucky and you have a good chance of clearing your name if you have the right strategy.
1) Remain Calm
Regardless of the false accusations against you, it is important to remember to remain calm. It may feel unnatural at first and you will want to defend yourself. However, responding to and defending yourself against false accusations is a long game, not a short one. If you lash out or act foolishly, it will only give the other side more evidence to use against you. This is especially true if the accusations could influence child custody orders. Irrational behavior now could make a judge find you to be an unfit parent and they may not grant you custody or visitation rights in the future.
If you were accused of a crime, it is also wise to not talk to the police without your lawyer present. The police will more than likely want to interview you and get your statement. The police can be persuasive but it is your legal right to wait until you have your attorney present to speak with them. This is true even if you are arrested because of the false accusation. Tell the officers that you do not wish to speak to them until your lawyer is present.
2) Gather Evidence
You should always keep meticulous records if you are going through a contentious court proceeding like a divorce or child custody battle. This is important because you need to be able to prove what was said, by whom, and when. All of this matters if there are false accusations made against you. You will have the evidence to show the court to prove your innocence. Types of evidence to gather include:
- Keep a journal of all contact you have with the other person, this includes emails, texts, phone calls, and in-person meetings
- Receipts of locations you go to that prove your whereabouts
- Screenshots of social media posts anyone makes about the case (these can be deleted later so always capture them as soon as you see them)
Once you have been accused, it is even more important to keep records. Write down everything you remember about the incident. Also, write down what you can remember about any other interactions you have had with your accuser. Make note of any witnesses who may have been present at the time and can help prove your innocence.
3) Hire a Lawyer to Fight Back
This may be the most important step when facing false accusations. While you can attempt to clear your name, it will be a lot easier if you have an attorney advocate on your side. The lawyer knows the laws and will be able to apply them to your case. This includes all laws you are accused of breaking and also any laws regarding false accusations against you.
Make sure to hire a competent attorney who has experience with false accusations. For example, you do not want to hire an attorney who mostly deals with child custody and divorce cases if you have been falsely accused of assault. Ask the attorney for their experience regarding false accusations and choose one that you will trust to advocate on your behalf.
4) Remember: False Accusations are Illegal in Kentucky
Kentucky’s defamation laws make it illegal to cause harm to the reputation of a person or a business. This harm needs to be communicated to a third party through words that false with the purpose of degrading, humiliating or inciting contempt.
Kentucky also has laws that make some statements defamatory per se. This means that if someone makes this type of statement, regardless of other circumstances, they are guilty of defamation. Some of these accusations include criminal behavior, incest, having certain diseases, and uninvited seduction or promiscuity.