False Criminal Allegations in San Diego
What to Do if You Are Falsely Accused of a Crime
Believe it or not, many people who are convicted of a crime and end up in prison were falsely accused. Although the American criminal justice system works in most cases, not all juries get things right. When a jury gets things wrong, the consequences can be tragic. An innocent party pays the price for something he or she did not do, while the guilty party roams free.
As of October 2014, there have been 14,50 exonerations in the United States since 1989 as seen in this map of Exonerations in the US. The best way to avoid such an unjust result and ensure the proper outcome when faced with criminal accusations in San Diego is to immediately seek counsel and representation from an experienced San Diego criminal defense lawyer. Skilled and knowledgeable defense lawyers know their way around the criminal justice system. They can navigate through the complex procedures to ensure the fairest possible conclusion. George H. Ramos, Jr. & Associates can provide you with such assistance.
False-Accusation Cases Involve the Same Procedures as All Criminal Cases
Being falsely accused of a crime often does not alter the way the case is handled. A defendant should never believe that because he or she is innocent and has nothing to hide, there is no need for legal representation. In fact, there is perhaps an even greater need for legal advocacy.
On the other hand, some falsely accused defendants will still negotiate a plea agreement. Negotiations are conducted to avoid a trial and even the possibility of conviction and jail time. In certain cases, pleading guilty to a lesser offense may be the best option, even for innocent defendants. Although this choice is always left to the accused himself or herself, and some defendants justifiably refuse to admit to doing anything they did not do.
Experienced San Diego criminal defense attorneys are in the best position to explain the criminal justice system to their clients and to advise them on the best tactics in a particular case.
Motivations for False Allegations
To most people, the idea of fabrication false allegations against another person is unthinkable, but it does happen. According to the FBI, oftentimes the person reporting false allegations of a crime have one or many of the following motivations:
- mental illness
- looking for sympathy
- financial profit
Wrongfully Accused Defendants May Have Recourse in the Civil Courts
If someone is falsely accused of a crime, pleads not guilty, and the charges are dismissed, he or she may be able to file suit against the person who brought the charges. For example, if a private citizen files a false criminal charge against another person, or falsely makes a complaint to a police officer that results in another’s arrest, and if no conviction results, the accused may be able to sue the accuser for malicious prosecution.
If a law enforcement officer was involved in bringing the false accusations, the accused may also have a claim for false imprisonment or for a civil rights violation, often called a Section 1983 action after the provision in the federal law creating that cause of action.
In a malicious prosecution case, the wrongfully accused plaintiff can recover his or her actual injuries. Actual injuries include all attorneys’ fees, cost of bail bond, lost wages, damages for embarrassment and humiliation, and damages for harm to his or her reputation.
In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded. Punitive damages are above the actual damages suffered, in order to punish the person who raised the wrongful accusations. Punitive damages are also to discourage others from engaging in similar conduct.
To maintain a malicious prosecution case, the plaintiff must show the defendant is responsible for causing the criminal charges to be brought. The plaintiff must also show the charge was dismissed in criminal court. The plaintiff must then show the defendant had no reasonable basis on for the charges in the first place.
Generally, that requires proof of lies or similar wrongful conduct. Simply showing that the charges were dropped or that a not-guilty verdict was reached is insufficient. One must show that the malicious prosecution defendant engaged in wrongful conduct. In many cases, the prosecuting attorney will dismiss a criminal case or juries will find a defendant not guilty based on insufficient evidence or the existence of “reasonable doubt,” even when they believe the accused actually committed the crime he or she was charged with.
A person falsely accused of committing a crime faces many of the same challenges as a guilty criminal defendant. The person has the same, if not greater, need for counsel with a San Diego false criminal allegation attorney. If the charges are ultimately dismissed or a not-guilty verdict is reached, the person falsely accused may be able to turn back to the court for recourse. Importantly, however, before contemplating a civil suit the falsely accused individual must focus on defending against the criminal charges. In order to do so, he or she must turn to an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. When your life is on the line, experience counts. Contact George H. Ramos, Jr. & Associates for an immediate consultation. We are bilingual and we can be contacted at any time.