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What Are Your Legal Options If Falsely Accused of a Crime in Ohio?

What Are Your Legal Options If Falsely Accused of a Crime in Ohio?

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Your Legal Options If You’ve Been Accused of a Crime You Didn’t Commit

You’ve been accused of a crime, but you’re innocent. What do you do now? It may seem like answering investigators’ questions and offering whatever you can to help is the right move since you have nothing to hide, but it’s not. It’s believed that 2.5 percent to 5 percent of those serving prison sentences were wrongfully convicted, and thousands more are wrongfully accused and eventually acquitted. When you’re facing criminal charges, you need aggressive legal representation to handle your defense strategy and protect your rights. HMW Law provides just that for defendants in and around the Cleveland, Ohio, area.

Exercise Your Rights

Anytime you’re being accused of a crime, including violent crimes, you need to be aware of your rights and understand how to exercise them. For example, you have the right to remain silent, the right to have a defense attorney represent you, and the right to refuse a search or provide DNA unless there is a warrant. Exercising these rights is important for your defense. Oftentimes, people who are innocent believe that they should answer questions freely and provide any evidence requested to prove it. However, this isn’t a good idea. The things you say can be twisted and used against you by the investigators and prosecution, and it’s important not to do or say anything that could harm your case later on.

Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney

The most important thing you can do to protect your future when you’ve been falsely accused of a crime is to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you as soon as possible. When you meet with a potential attorney for a consultation or case evaluation, ask them about what strategies they would recommend and whether they have experience successfully defending clients under similar circumstances. This isn’t a situation where you want to use a friend of a friend who usually does estate law. When you’re facing serious criminal charges, you need an attorney — like the team at HMW Law — who is willing to fight aggressively to protect your rights and your future.

Show Evidence That Substantiates Your Innocence

All criminal cases rely on evidence, and it’s the prosecution’s responsibility to provide enough evidence to show that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. You may think that this will be impossible if you’re innocent, but juries can be and have been convinced that an innocent person committed a crime and convicted them. Photographs, videos, text messages, and receipts can all help corroborate your innocence. No piece of evidence is too small, so keep everything together and organized so your legal team can use it for your case.

Make sure to be honest with your attorney — remember, everything you discuss is covered under attorney-client privilege once you’ve hired them — so they can help you determine what pieces of evidence are the most valuable for your case. Also, don’t destroy any evidence, even if you think it makes you look guilty. Destroying evidence is illegal, and it can put doubt in the jury’s mind as to what you might have been trying to hide. If you are concerned about a certain piece of evidence, talk with your attorney.

Provide Witnesses Who Can Testify to Where You Were When the Crime Occurred

One of the strongest defenses to a criminal accusation is to provide witnesses who can attest that it was impossible for you to be at the scene at the time the crime was committed. It helps if the witnesses aren’t directly related to you or very close friends — as jury members may believe that those people are willing to lie for you.

This can be harder than it seems at times because strangers you interact with may not always remember you. For example, if you were eating alone at a restaurant at the time the crime was committed, a member of the waitstaff could verify your alibi, but if they served dozens of people that evening, they might not be able to testify with certainty. The more people you have to corroborate where you were during the crime, the better.

Consider Legal Action

If someone made false claims against you and it resulted in you being charged with a crime, you may be able to file suit against them for malicious prosecution or defamation. This is handled through the civil courts, and you generally have to prove that the person knew you didn’t commit the crime and that you suffered some type of damages as a result. You also have to be found innocent of the charges or have them dropped to be able to file. These are complex cases, and while it’s absolutely normal to want to hold the person who wrongfully accused you accountable, these cases can be difficult to win. If you’re interested in taking legal action against your accuser after your case has been settled, speak to an attorney about your options.

At HMW Law, we pride ourselves on providing aggressive criminal defense representation for Ohioans who have been charged with crimes. We understand how frightening and distressing it can be to be arrested for a crime you didn’t commit, and we help you deal with the criminal case at hand and understand what legal options you may have when it’s over to hold the person who accused you accountable. Call our office at 216-369-1352 to schedule a meeting with one of our experienced attorneys.

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