The mere accusation of rape can ruin an innocent person’s life. Whether the accusation was made from maliciousness or simply misidentification, the fact remains that an innocent person is now on trial for a crime they did not commit.
If someone has falsely accused you, your entire future may be on the line. Like any criminal case, it is vital that an accused person find a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles who can represent you. You need a legal strategy to protect your reputation and your rights.
Do you know what to do if someone accuses you of rape in California?
One of the first things you should do if falsely accused of rape is to hire a criminal defense attorney. It is important to find a lawyer with plenty of experience in rape cases.
You also want to find an attorney with whom you feel comfortable. Outside of that, there are other steps you can take to help your case.
Educate Yourself About Your Situation
It’s critical that you are fully aware of the situation you are facing. Read about the laws concerning rape charges and become familiar with the possible penalties you may be facing, as well as common defenses used in a rape case.
While your attorney will explain everything to you, it is important to self-educate as well. You should read everything you can find about the laws in California and how other cases of false rape accusations have been handled.
Start Saving Money
Unfortunately, building a strong defense against a false rape allegation can be very expensive. There are many expenses you may incur while trying to prove your innocence. While the cost may seem high, not losing your freedom for a crime that you didn’t commit is certainly worth the money.
Be Aware of All of Your Actions
After a false accusation of rape, it is easy to become your own worst enemy. A simple ill-thought-out statement can come back to bite you. Tread carefully, and don’t post anything on social media.
You should, at all costs, avoid the person accusing you of rape. It is understandable that hearing you have been accused of rape will probably make you extremely emotional and angry. However, it is critically important that you do not indulge in these emotions until your case has been resolved.
If you know your accuser and see them regularly, for one reason or another, it can be difficult to fully avoid them. Always try and make sure another person is present if you must see them, and never try to engage in a conversation with the other person regarding their accusations.
Record Every Detail Early
While the day or night in question is still fresh, make a detailed account of what happened and write it down for your attorney. The longer you wait, the less focused your memories will be. By writing down exactly what occurred as soon as this allegation is made, you have a better chance of remembering something that can discredit the case against you.
Create a Detailed Witness List
It is important to have a thorough list of anyone who might be able to testify in your case. You should record who your witness is and how their testimony could help or harm you. You will want a list of not only people who can testify to your whereabouts during and around the time of the alleged incident but character witnesses as well and witnesses the opposition may call.
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Most Common Reasons for False Allegations
Rape is one of the last crimes that most people would want to be falsely accused of due to the societal view of this heinous crime. Unfortunately, false accusations do occur for a variety of reasons. Do not believe that because you are innocent, you do not need an attorney. Unfortunately, many innocent people have been convicted of rape.
Some of the most common reasons for falsely being accused of rape are:
- Misidentification – The victim may be confused and mistakenly identify you as their attacker for some reason.
- Revenge – A false accusation of rape can destroy a person’s life, which is precisely why it is sometimes used by individuals who wish to destroy the life of the accused.
- Guilt – An individual may live with regret or guilt over consensual actions and later choose to instead view the sexual encounter as rape to cover that up.
How Often Are False Accusations Made?
Rape is a horrific crime. It is important that the stories of victims are not dismissed. Unfortunately, false accusations tend to sow doubt among the legitimate complaints of rape. The average estimate is that two percent of all rape allegations are false.
However, when it comes to reported allegations, authorities determine 8-10% of all rape claims to be unfounded. That means that at least six percent of those who come forward with a legitimate rape claim are not believed by the authorities in charge of their case.
The fact that many false accusations do make it through the system suggests that there are even more victims with legitimate complaints who are not believed. False accusations make things worse both for the accused and the true victims of these terrible crimes.
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False Rape Accusations Can Ruin Your Life
Victims of rape often struggle for the rest of their lives with the resulting trauma. They are trapped in the prison of their minds. If someone falsely accuses you of rape and you are unable to disprove the charge, the consequences can also be devastating.
The prison for those falsely accused of rape who end up behind bars is both mental and physical. There are people who served years in prison for a rape charge only to have their accuser later admit that the charge was not factual. There is no way to get the time back that was lost while locked up.
Even if you dare able to beat a rape accusation in court, the cloud that the allegation created can follow you in freedom. There will often be people who believe that you “got away with it,” and some relationships may be damaged beyond repair. If you can’t definitively prove that you did not commit the crime, doubt will be a constant companion for some of the people in your life.
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California Rape Laws
In California, the most common statute used in rape cases is found under Penal Law Section 261. To sum it up, any sexual act between two individuals where one individual did not consent or is incapable of consent is rape. Incapacity can be caused by disability, either mental or physical.
Consent usually ties in with the use of force or violence by one person. The other major category of rape cases occurs if one person was unable to resist because they were on a substance or were unconscious.
You should be aware that there is a distinction when rape occurs between spouses and when the individuals are not married to each other. While spousal rape is still a crime, it is covered by a separate law – Penal Law Section 262.
Defenses to False Accusations Of Rape
One of the most common defenses to a false allegation of rape is arguing that the accuser gave consent for the sexual activity. You should be careful, however, before using this defense. A counter to this defense is that there was initial consent that was later revoked.
This means that your accuser is stating that they did originally consensually engage in sex with you. However, at some point, they changed their mind, but you refused to stop. To prove that this situation occurred, the accuser must show that they took back their consent in a way that a reasonable person would understand, and yet you continued having intercourse.
The Burden of Proof Is on the Prosecutors
As with all criminal cases, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. So, any type of doubt presented by your attorney will strengthen the case that you are innocent. A few ways in which your attorney can create reasonable doubt is by:
Presenting evidence that there was a relationship between you and the other person.
Showing how the other person had other motives in making this accusation (ex. revenge).
Bringing forth other individuals, who were present, that can attest to your innocence or may be actual perpetrators of the crime