Being falsely accused of a crime can turn your world upside down. As a law-abiding citizen, this is probably something you’ve never dreamed would happen to you, and you’re probably a little lost and confused about what comes next. False accusations happen more often than you might think. That’s why strong Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys are available to support you in your time of need. If you’re innocent and have been accused of a crime, here are some things you should do.
Listen to Your Miranda Rights
If you’ve spent any time watching crime shows, then you’re probably pretty familiar with the Miranda rights, or the statement that police officers say after arresting someone.
It goes a little something like this: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”
This statement is designed to inform you of your rights upon arrest to protect you from the not-so-perfect system. By speaking after being arrested, you potentially put yourself at risk of incriminating yourself, even if you’re innocent. Try to avoid saying anything at all because even the most harmless-sounding statement may be misconstrued and get you in trouble.
When an officer asks you a question, say that you need to speak to your attorney right away. Refuse to answer their questions until your attorney is present. They cannot force you to speak without your lawyer present, and staying silent is in your best interest.
Call Your Attorney Immediately
The second half of your Miranda rights clearly point out the importance of a good attorney. You will be appointed a pro-bono attorney by the state if you can’t afford one, but it’s better to hire a quality attorney of your choosing.
When choosing an attorney, find one who will listen to you. They should believe in your innocence and do everything they can to help you. They should also have a good track record of winning and supporting their clients. Ask for references and check them to make sure you’re getting a great representative. It’s also vital that you choose an attorney in your state. If you’re ever in need of a criminal defense lawyer in Pennsylvania, the attorneys at Fishman Firm are ready and able to defend you.
Don’t Allow a Search Without a Warrant
In many cases, police officers will show up at your door and claim the right to search your property because of your alleged connection with a crime. They might try to intimidate you into letting them inside. Unless they present a certified warrant, however, don’t let them in.
Preventing the search does not admit guilt. You know that you haven’t done anything wrong, so they don’t need to search your property. Also, the searchers may find something they believe to be connected to a crime, even if it’s not. It can make it more difficult for you to prove your innocence.
The law has plenty of safeguards in place to protect you, so take advantage of them. If you’re truly innocent, refusing a search without a warrant is in your best interest.
Keep the Story Out of the Media – and Off Social Media
In most cases, arrest records are public. So reporters can see whether you’ve been arrested, and they might seek a public comment. Don’t give it to them. Telling your side of the story is tempting, but it will likely do more harm than good. It can make it difficult for your attorney to defend you.
Listen to the advice of your attorney regarding the news. At some point in your trial, your attorney might recommend a news conference to sway public opinion in your favor. Until that time, stay away from reporters.
Social media is another thing to avoid. What you write on social media is considered public comment, and it could be used against you in court. Commenting on the judge or jury would be a big mistake.
If you have already made posts about your case, don’t take them down unless your attorney or a judge advises you to. Doing so could make it look like you’re trying to hide something.
Build a Support System
Being accused of a crime is difficult. A lot of emotional baggage comes with it, and you don’t want to be alone as you work through the ordeal. Unfortunately, an accusation of a crime, even a false one, can cause neighbors, friends, and even relatives to withdraw from you.
Don’t spend time with those who don’t believe in your innocence. They’ll only bring you down and make the journey more difficult. Instead, reach out to those who are sympathetic of your cause. It will help you regain some control of your life and work your way to victory.
Consider Suing for Defamation
If you’ve been falsely accused of a crime, even if you come out on top, you’ll have serious damage to your reputation to repair. People might spread rumors about whether or not you’re really innocent, and this can affect your social and work life.
At this point, you might consider suing for defamation. In a defamation claim, you’ll provide evidence that a defendant harmed your reputation in some way, whether it was libel or slander. If you’re successful in this case, it can restore parts of your reputation and provide you with compensation to help pick up the pieces. This is particularly useful if you lost your job as a result of the case.
Your attorney can advise you as to whether or not a defamation case is justified in your situation. It won’t erase what happened, but it can help you put your life back together.
Contact the Fishman Firm Today
The law is made to protect its innocent citizens, but when it fails you, your Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney will be there. Our certified attorneys have plenty of experience representing those who are innocent and need a helping hand. We’ll listen to your case and provide the support you need to get through this difficult time. For more information, contact us today.