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False allegations of any serious criminal offenses can have a devastating effect on your personal and professional life. Apart from the fines, incarceration, and other penalties, Ohio law authorizes judges to impose when sentencing someone convicted of a crime, the public record of the conviction can linger for years and affect employment, education, and other aspects of your life.
Even when false allegations are finally proven to be untrue, the damage to your reputation and the effect it can have on your relationship with family members, friends, and co-workers can cause stress and irreparable harm. Avoiding situations that can lead to false allegations is not always possible, but there are ways to prepare yourself should you ever be falsely accused.
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Jail or prison, large fines, community service, and probation are some of the penalties courts can impose upon you if you are convicted of a criminal offense in Ohio. Just because you know the allegations to be false does not mean you will not be convicted of them.
You should seek advice and counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you become aware of an investigation or the filing of formal charges. Do not speak to law enforcement agents or investigators before consulting with an attorney.
People frequently make the mistake of thinking that because the allegations are false, investigators will be persuaded to drop the charges if the accused is cooperative. A common technique employed by criminal investigators to encourage a suspect to speak to them is to claim that cooperation will help resolve the matter in the suspect’s favor.
The purpose of a criminal investigation is to gather evidence to establish the allegations. Cooperating with law enforcement is laudable, but it should only take place after you have been advised to do so by your defense attorney.
A meeting with your attorney should give you a better understanding of the allegations and the criminal charges that might result from them. It will also provide you information about your rights if law enforcement agents contact you.
Unless you are arrested, you have the right to refuse to answer questions posed to you by investigators other than your name, address, and date of birth. Ohio Revised Code section 2921.29 requires that you disclose such information if you are in a public place and the officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that you might have committed a criminal offense or that you might have witnessed someone commit a felony.
The law throughout Ohio specifically protects you from being compelled to disclose or punished for refusing to disclose anything other than your name, address, and date of birth. If age is an element of a criminal offense being investigated by a police officer, you do not, according to the law in Ohio, have to reveal such information about yourself.
Even if you are arrested by the police, the United States Supreme Court ruled that an individual’s right to remain silent is protected under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution if the person is in custody and police attempt to elicit a statement through questioning. Furthermore, once formal charges have been filed against you, you have the right to speak with an attorney prior to questioning and prior to waiving your right to remain silent.
False allegations can be difficult to defend, because you might have very little information about the dates, times, places, and people involved. Investigators and prosecutors have an advantage in terms of the resources they can commit to the investigation designed to obtain evidence to prove your guilt.
Your defense might be hampered by limited financial resources and no access to your accuser. Your only weapon against false allegations is to have an aggressive and well-prepared defense strategy. This begins with your ability to provide your defense attorney with as much information about the accusations as possible. Be sure to go over the events referenced in the allegations, and you should furnish your defense attorney with as much detailed and accurate information as you can collect.
You should begin your defense by giving your attorney as much information as you can recall. Allow your attorney to decide if something is important to your defense. As a person falsely accused of committing a crime, you are too close to the situation and too emotionally involved to even attempt to be making determinations as to the relevance of evidence. It is best to leave that to your criminal defense attorney.
The financial costs associated with defending yourself against false allegations might cause you to consider cutting corners in order to save money. Investigators that might be able to uncover evidence favorable to your defense and expert witnesses whose testimony might refute portions of the prosecution’s case can be essential elements of a well-planned defense strategy.
Before you attempt to limit expenses by not hiring investigators and expert witnesses, consider the burden of a prison sentence, fines, and other penalties if you are found guilty of the charges. False allegations must be taken seriously and fought aggressively.
When you are facing criminal charges, it is important to work with an attorney who cares about your freedom. For answers to questions or concerns about false allegations, contact Erb Legal LLC today at (330) 446-3606. We serve clients throughout NE Ohio, including Medina County, Portage County, Wayne County, and Summit County.