What to Do if You’re Falsely Accused of a Crime in Missouri

Though no one expects it to happen, someone can be falsely accused of committing a crime in Missouri. Whether this is done inadvertently or it’s on purpose to try to hurt someone, the end result is the same. The person who is falsely accused of a crime must defend themselves and work to show they did not commit the crime. There are a few things the falsely accused can do to help their case and avoid making the situation even worse, starting with hiring a defense attorney. 

How Does a False Accusation Happen?

False accusations can happen for a number of different reasons. In some cases, it’s due to a mistaken identity or because the victim remembers the details incorrectly. This could lead to someone who might look like the person who committed the crime finding out they’re facing charges. In other cases, it’s due to malicious conduct on behalf of someone who wants to hurt the accused or because of evidence that ends up being misleading. The reason behind the false accusation may not matter as much as it seems, however, as the main goal, once the accusation happens, is for the accused to be able to avoid a conviction and clear their name. 

Find Out Where You Stand

One thing the accused can do is find out where they stand and what might happen next. If they’ve been arrested, they will likely be charged with the crime if the prosecution doesn’t realize it’s a false accusation beforehand. If the accused has not been arrested yet, they might want to find out if charges have been filed against them or if there is a warrant for their arrest. Often, this can be done with the help of an attorney or through the local government website. The next steps to take will depend on what the situation is right now, as there may not be as much of a cause for concern yet if charges have not been filed. 

Hire an Attorney

man holding smartphone

If someone is arrested and charged with a crime they did not commit or they believe they’ve been falsely accused of committing a crime in Missouri, the most important thing for them to do is find a Springfield criminal defense attorney to work with. The attorney understands their situation and has experience handling these types of issues. They’ll help determine how the false accusation occurred, what the next steps for the accused may be, and how the accused can defend against the charges they’re facing. It’s always a good idea to talk to the attorney about any concerns and get answers to questions so the accused has a clear understanding of where they stand right now and what the possible outcomes might be. 

Avoid Talking with the Police

It’s imperative the accused avoids talking to the police. They do not just want to help; they are gathering information to build a case against the accused. If they request an interview, a DNA sample, or any other information from the accused, it’s important for the accused to defer to their lawyer for assistance. Anything the police need can be handled through the attorney to help protect the accused from inadvertently providing information that could be used against them. 

Avoid Potentially Harmful Actions

There are other potentially harmful actions that can seem innocent enough. A Springfield criminal defense attorney will recommend avoiding destroying potential evidence the accused believes could be used against them, consenting to any tests requested by the police, and having any contact with the victim or witnesses. Destroying evidence can seem like an admission of guilt, and having contact with the victim or witnesses can end up making the whole situation a lot worse. On top of that, consenting to any tests or searches can lead police to finding information that can be used against the accused in court, even if they did not commit the crime. 

Gather Any Evidence or Witness Contact Information

black and white evidence
Crime scene investigation – collecting evidence

The accused will want to gather any evidence they have that could help prove their innocence. If they have receipts that show they were not in the area when the crime occurred, this could prove they could not have committed the crime. If there were any witnesses, while it’s not a good idea to speak with them without an attorney present, it is a good idea to gather their contact information and provide this to the attorney. It may be able to be used in the accused’s defense. 

Do an Investigation

The accused will want to be cautious to avoid doing anything that could make things worse, but with their attorney’s assistance, they can work on doing an investigation to prove they could not have committed the crime and to find evidence that will help their defense. It is a good idea to follow the directions of the criminal defense attorney during any investigation, as they will help minimize the potential for anything to go wrong. They also know how to handle the situation and what to look for to help show the accused is innocent. 

Consider All Possible Outcomes

While the ultimate goal is to avoid a conviction and clear the accused’s name, this may not always be possible. If there is no evidence to prove the accused did not commit the crime, or it is likely that the prosecution has more evidence that could make a good outcome less possible, the accused may want to consider a plea deal. In some cases, it’s possible to request deferred adjudication as part of a plea deal. With this, as long as the accused follows all terms set by the judge, they will not have to do the sentence for the crime, and the conviction will be erased from their record. 

Being falsely accused of a crime in Missouri can be an overwhelming experience, but with the right help, it is possible to get past this and move onto a better future. If you’ve been falsely accused of a crime, before doing anything else, talk to a criminal defense attorney in Springfield, MO about what your next steps should be.