Being falsely accused of a crime in Colorado can turn your life upside down. Even if the accusations are completely untrue, they can still damage your reputation, relationships, and livelihood.
If someone has wrongfully accused you of a crime, it is important to take action to protect yourself. Follow these 10 steps if you have been falsely accused.
Understanding Defamation in Colorado
Defamation refers to damage to someone’s reputation caused by a false statement. If someone accuses you of a crime you didn’t commit, whether verbally or in writing, they are defaming you. Defamation includes both libel (written statements) and slander (spoken statements).
Under Colorado defamation laws, you can sue someone for libel or slander if:
- They made a false statement purporting to be fact
- The statement caused you harm
- The statement was published or communicated to a third party
- The statement did not fall under privileged communications
Defamation per se refers to statements so damaging that harm is assumed under the law, such as false accusations of criminal conduct. If the defamatory statements have caused harm to your personal or professional reputation, you may be able to recover compensatory and punitive damages.
Falsely Accusing Someone of a Crime is Illegal
Under Colorado law, it is illegal to make false statements to authorities accusing someone of a crime. Filing a false police report or making false accusations to law enforcement can be charged as:
- False reporting to authorities – Class 3 misdemeanor
- Wasting public resources – Petty offense
Penalties increase if the false reporting results in economic loss or bodily injury to the falsely accused.
Your Options When Falsely Accused of a Crime
If you have been falsely accused of a crime, here are some steps to take:
Remain Calm and Avoid Retaliation
The first step is to stay calm. Do not get angry or upset with the accuser. Yelling at them or threatening retaliation could make the situation worse. Avoid posting anything about the false accusations online, and do not try to get back at the person. Continue going about your normal routines as much as possible while you deal with the accusations.
Consult a Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer
Contact an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Even if charges have not been filed yet, a lawyer can advise you on how to proceed. They can guide you in interacting with law enforcement and help safeguard your constitutional rights. If charges get filed, your lawyer can represent you in court.
Gather Evidence to Prove Your Innocence
Work with your Colorado criminal justice attorney to gather evidence and identify witnesses that can corroborate your innocence. This may include cell phone records, receipts, surveillance video, computer data, or other documentation. Friend and family member statements defending your character can also help. The more exonerating evidence you have, the better.
Limit Contact with the Accuser
Avoid direct contact with the person making the false accusations. Do not try to convince them to recant or withdraw their statements. This could be viewed as harassment or witness tampering. Let your lawyer do the communicating on your behalf if needed.
Understand the Potential Legal Consequences
Depending on the accusations, you may face fines, probation, jail time, or other penalties if convicted of a crime. Your lawyer can advise how state laws apply to your unique situation. Be aware you may need to participate in legal proceedings even if the claims are untrue.
Recognize the Personal and Professional Impacts
False accusations often damage reputations, relationships, and careers regardless of the outcome. Be prepared for others to look at you differently until your name is cleared. Seek counseling or join a support group to help cope with the emotional distress.
Do NOT Make Statements to Police Without Your Lawyer
You have the right to remain silent and should avoid speaking to law enforcement without your attorney present. Be polite but firm that you will not answer questions on the advice of counsel. What you say could be used against you.
Weigh the Option of Filing a Civil Lawsuit
Depending on the specifics, you may be able to sue the false accuser for defamation, malicious prosecution, or false imprisonment in civil court. Your lawyer can advise if there are valid grounds for a case. However, this will likely be a lengthy process that may ultimately get dismissed.
Be Patient and Let the Justice System Work
Try to be patient as the criminal and/or civil legal processes unfold. These things take time. Do your best to go about your daily life and trust that, ultimately, the truth will prevail. Keep faith that justice will be served in the end.
At the end of the day, put the false accusations behind you the best that you can. Do not let anger or bitterness take over your life. Focus your time and energy on positive things like family, friends, your career, and hobbies. Keep sight of your goals and work towards a brighter future.
Being falsely accused of a crime in Colorado can negatively impact many aspects of your life. By staying calm, gathering evidence of your innocence, hiring a skilled defense attorney, and focusing on the future, you can protect your rights and reputation. With dedication and perseverance, you can move past the false accusations. Do not let the lies define who you are.
False Accusation Defense Lawyers in Colorado
False accusations can derail your education, damage your career, and negatively impact your life. The stakes are high, so you need an experienced legal advocate in your corner.
Right Law Group is a Colorado law firm with experienced attorneys to represent you if you are falsely accused of a crime. Their lawyers seek justice on your behalf through strategic defense. Put their experience to work protecting your future.