Were you falsely accused of a crime, including but not limited to allegations of domestic violence or a sex crime which you did not commit? As a result, you may have suffered loss of employment, harm to your reputation in your community, and other related damages. If so, you are probably wondering if you can file a lawsuit against the individual who purposefully set out to harm your reputation. Today, we review what choices you have when falsely accused of a crime.
Why Do Individuals Make False Allegations?
False allegations are made for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most common is false allegations of domestic violence during a divorce. As tensions and emotions are high during this time, sometimes one party will act out by taking out their frustrations on their spouse, falsely accusing him/her of an act of domestic violence. Sometimes this even occurs without any evidence.
Other times, one spouse will attempt to discredit the other in hopes of winning more property during an asset and property dispute in court. Additionally, in contentious custody battles, one party may try to seek sole custody of their children by tearing down their spouse’s character.
What Steps Should You Take After Being Falsely Accused of a Crime?
As any family member or loved one could file a false allegation of domestic violence at any time, even without substantial proof, it is imperative you secure the experienced legal counsel of a lawyer. Once this allegation is made, a judge could issue an emergency protective order. When this happens, you may be ordered to leave your home and avoid any contact with your spouse and even your children. This order will negatively impact your divorce and custody proceedings; however, with a lawyer on your side, you will be able to fight these allegations.
Can You Sue Back with a Defamation of Character Lawsuit?
If you can prove that an individual knew they were making false allegations but did so anyways to cause deliberate harm to your character, you can pursue a civil lawsuit for defamation of character. Defamation is a false statement presented as a fact that causes some type of injury or damage to an individual’s character. It is important to note you can only do so once the charges against you have been cleared.
Libel and slander are types of defamation. Libel is a false defamatory statement made in writing, typically published, or posted publicly for others to read. Slander is a false defamatory statement spoken orally to a third party. To prove libel, your lawyer will need to show that the written or published accusations against you were false and done so by the other party with malice and intent. To prove slander, your attorney must prove that an individual made accusations against you knowing they were false with the hopes of harming your reputation or employment status.
A defamation of character lawsuit over libel or slander is a civil lawsuit. As such, you can seek compensation for monetary losses and damages that occurred due to humiliation, job loss, embarrassment, and mental anguish.
What Are the Consequences of Falsely Accusing Someone of a Crime in Texas?
The most important part to this question is: What was the intent of the accusation? In Texas, it is not illegal to mistakenly accuse someone of a sex crime if they believed the person was guilty. However, if the accuser did not have reasonable grounds for this accusation and reported it, he/she could face civil, or criminal charged for doing so.
Under Texas law, it is an offense for a person to knowingly make a false statement to the police or the court that is material to a criminal investigation with the intent to deceive. In fact, purposefully lying on a police report is a crime and carries a consequence of prison time. If this false accusation leads to a courtroom trial, the penalty is severe. If the individual commits perjury, or lies under oath, he/she could face a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison time of 2 to 10 years.
A person who purposefully made false accusations to the police may also be required to pay restitution to the police department for wasting resources and time. This will also need to be proven in court.
Legal Defenses Against False Allegations
An experienced attorney can defend your rights if you were falsely accused of a crime. Remember, by law, you are innocent until proven guilty. At The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC, we provide aggressive representation in the face of false allegations. We will help you create a strategy to prove your innocence and refute the false allegation. Your reputation and standing in the community should not be tainted by false allegations. We will fight to protect you.
Contact our office online or via (210) 761-4943 to schedule a consultation with our firm today.