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How to Fight a False Accusation

By Stephanie Reid
Mounting a strong defense can help one who has been falsely accused.

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An allegation is defined as "[t]he assertion, claim, declaration, or statement of a party to an action, setting out what he or she expects to prove." Thus, false allegations can be made in the context of both the civil and criminal law. For false criminal allegations, the accused must mount a defense against the prosecutor proving the falsity of the state's charges. For false civil allegations, the defendant must similarly mount a civil defense to avoid incurring liability.

Carefully review the merits of the claim. If in the criminal context, the defendant has a right to review the charges against him, as well as the probable cause used by the police in searching his person or property. By understanding the charges and the evidence supporting the claim, the defendant can begin to mount his defense and undermine the criminal allegations. In the civil context, the defendant will be served with a copy of the complaint and a summons detailing the nature of the cause of action. He should read the complaint carefully to understand exactly why the defendant is suing him.

Decide upon a complete defense or affirmative defense. A criminal and civil defendant may unequivocally deny all allegations against him. In his reply brief or response, he may deny all assertions made by the prosecutor or plaintiff. Affirmative defenses are available too. An affirmative defense, otherwise known as a justification, is a defense admitting to commission of the act, but for good reason. Common affirmative defenses are self-protection, defense of others or public necessity.

Review all evidence uncovered during the discovery phase. A defendant facing false criminal or civil allegations must carefully review all documents to be used by the prosecutor or plaintiff and search for any discrepancies or contradictory information. If the evidence is so plainly errant or false, the defendant may choose to move for dismissal.

Attend the civil or criminal trial to decide the case. The defendant will have this opportunity to prove the falsity of the allegations to the jury, who will be charged with keeping an open mind and considering all evidence. A jury will be able to determine truly false information from that which is more likely true. The defendant should mount a strong defense and seek to expose the contradictions and improbability of the prosecutor or plaintiff's case.

Seek help from organizations like the Innocence Project, if wrongfully convicted. This is an organization that specializes in reviewing criminal cases and freeing wrongfully incarcerated individuals. For the civil litigant, the appeals process is a lengthy, but effective means of exposing wrongful accusations.

About the Author

Stephanie Reid has been writing professionally since 2007, with work published in the Virginia Bar Association's "Family Law Quarterly" and the "Whittier Journal of Child and Family Advocacy." She received her Juris Doctor from Regent University and her Bachelor of Arts in French and child development from Florida State University. Reid is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Maryland.

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