This series – Dealing with a sexual assault allegation from beginning to end
Part IV: Why Would Someone Falsely Accuse You?
Identifying an accuser’s motive to lie is one of the first steps in establishing a defense in a false accusation. In most cases, someone who falsely accuses you of a crime, especially a sex crime, has a reason – even if it’s not a good one. However, there are a growing number of false accusations that have almost no situational basis. Recently people have used social media to falsely accuse not only former partners, but it has also become a “trend” to accuse complete strangers. Either way, false accusations are serious, both for the accused and the accuser. Of course, the accuser is the one who will have the most immediate problems to deal with.
Even the mention or rumor of a sex crime can have detrimental effects on mental health, relationships, career, future, and ability to make ends meet even if it doesn’t result in loss of your freedom. If the accused is in a public position, the affect is greatly magnified greatly.
A sex crime accusation can lead to multiple charges against you. While the actions can differ by the age of accuser and jurisdiction due to State law, they are all very serious: Rape, Statutory Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Imposition, Sexual Assault, Sexual Battery, Kidnapping, Unlawful Sexual Conduct, Gross Sexual Imposition, Sexual Imposition, Importuning, Unlawful Restraint, Voyeurism, and/or Indecent Exposure.
A very common situational basis for false allegations is that of REGRET. The accuser at first consents to an intimate relationship, but later feels regret about their decision to be intimate with you. This can happen for any number of reasons, but when they take it to the police, it is no longer a personal matter that you can deal with yourself. In other words, you’re not going to “work it out” with them no matter how long you’ve been intimate with them or have known them. You will not be able to talk them into dropping the charges because it’s too late for that once it’s in police hands. Law enforcement takes these cases very seriously and will proceed with or without the accuser’s involvement. And you certainly don’t want to threaten the accuser because that is against the law. They’ve gone to the police. Now you need to go to a defense lawyer.
A more underhanded reason an accuser may go to police is REVENGE. A revenge accusation usually comes from someone you know or have already been intimate with or not. Perhaps you did them or their friend or relative wrong, and they’re getting you back for it. The revenge could be for breaking up with them or it could be a form of family leverage.
In the case of family leverage, maybe it’s because you took custody of the kids, or maybe it’s because they want to get custody of the kids. It is NOT rare for a mother to claim the father inappropriately touched the child in order to gain CUSTODY. In this case you will need more than a family lawyer, but also an attorney who specializes in sex crimes.
MENTAL ILLNESS and ATTENTION seeking can be overlapping reasons why someone might accuse you of a sex crime. Perhaps they constantly need ATTENTION, and this is one way to get it. Mental illness may include the constant need for attention, but it also may be a completely different mental disorder that causes them to actually believe something happened when it didn’t. Personality disorders and borderline disorders can be mind-boggling and dangerous to deal with when a false accusation is made because you might never know what caused the “switch to flip” regarding what actually happened. A person with such a mental health issue may have a history of attention-seeking behaviors, some of which may be illegal, sexual, or very physically dangerous.
What if the accuser has reputation for sexual activity? It may surprise you to know that evidence of an alleged victim’s sexual history, activity, and reputation may not be admissible in court in most cases (Ohio Revised Code 2907.02, 2021). There is actually a law against in many states, which is why it is important that you have lawyer who specializes in sex crime defense.
A lawyer who specializes in this type of defense can fully investigate your case to uncover evidence that is material to the case and therefore admissible in court. Moreover, a qualified attorney can find evidence that pokes holes in the accuser’s story, demonstrates that there was consent, or uncover that it was a case of complete misidentification or a flat out lie. In that case, the accuser can be charged with false reporting, slander and other crimes depending on their intent. Whatever the case, do not delay in getting a sex crimes attorney.