According to the Innocence Project, anywhere between 2.3 to 5 percent of people who are currently incarcerated are innocent. That means that up to 110,000 inmates across the U.S. were falsely accused or framed for crimes that they did not commit. With such staggering statistics, it is essential that you know what to do if you’re framed or falsely accused of a crime that you did not partake in.
The initial step in protecting yourself from being charged with a crime you’ve been framed for is to hire an attorney. It is important to be aware that you have the right to remain silent while being questioned by law enforcement, and you are allowed to have your attorney present at all times. Also keep in mind that it is best to refrain from submitting to any testing such as DNA, unless your attorney advises you to do so beforehand.
If you’re framed for a crime that sends law enforcement to your house to perform a search, it is imperative that you require them to obtain a search warrant. Even if you have nothing to hide in your home or surrounding property, a search warrant will provide you with official documentation of the search that is being conducted. This will allow you to submit the paperwork to court when they end up finding no physical evidence in order to strengthen your defense case.
Speaking About the Crime
A common instinctual thought that follows after you realize, “I’m being framed for a crime that I did not commit,” is the desire to speak with any victims or informants involved in order to attempt to gain further information and clear your name. This is another action to completely refrain from carrying out, as you could end up being accused for intimidating a witness or witness tampering. Before discussing any matters with the other parties involved, it is best to consult with your defense attorney beforehand.
Taking Legal Action
Once you’ve gone forward with a reputable criminal defense attorney, you should consider taking legal action yourself against any parties that framed you for the crime, even if you’ve been formally exonerated. Most victims of framing and/or wrongful conviction cases are eligible to sue for either libel or slander defamation. Libel pertains to published defamation in writing, and slander pertains to defamatory statements that were orally discussed.
As of July 2020, 375 people previously convicted of serious crimes in the US had been released after DNA proved their innocence post-conviction. This alarming data puts into perspective how common it is to be framed or wrongfully convicted of a crime that you did not actually commit. By familiarizing yourself with these initial steps and hiring proper defense counsel, your chances of proving your innocence will greatly increase.