Accused of a Crime: What to do?

What to do when you’ve been accused of a crime.

If someone has accused you of a crime, there are some important steps you should take to protect your rights. In this article, we’ll discuss the things you should do when anyone — a police officer, citizen, your boss, etc. — accuses you of doing something criminal. We’re talking here about the threat of criminal prosecution. Some of these tips may also apply after you’ve been charged with a crime, but the main point here is to address situations where you have not yet been charged, but someone is threatening to have you charged.

Don’t Talk

accused of a crime: what to doAs soon as the subject of criminal charges comes up, don’t talk. It is shocking how many people refuse to follow this simple advice. Each year prosecutors charge hundreds of thousands of people based only on things they admitted to, even when there is very little other evidence of a crime.

Everything you say — even what you say to other citizens, your friends, or your boss — can all be used against you in court. When someone accused you of a crime, it’s time for you to give them the silent treatment. Do not discuss the subject at all. You could unknowingly admit to important parts of a criminal offense. In one case, a defendant admitted to being in a particular city at a particular time, and the judge found him guilty of a crime that he otherwise would have been found not guilty of, if he had not admitted to his location. Simple innocent admissions can be placed into a context that hurts you. Just don’t talk when you’re accused of a crime.

Try to Resolve it Through A Lawyer

This method of avoiding criminal charges is common to financial crimes like embezzlement. Let’s say your boss accused you of misusing company money for your own personal expenses. This would be the crime of embezzlement.  However, you could hire a lawyer to negotiate with your boss on your behalf and perhaps avoid a criminal prosecution. The lawyer would contact your boss and determine if he might accept a repayment of some or all of the money he says was misused, and in exchange agree not to press for criminal charges.  This is sometimes referred to as an “accord and satisfaction”.

This negotiation, however, must always take place through your lawyer. If you attempt this alone, you may admit wrongdoing, which could be used against you in a criminal prosecution. Remember that an honest conversation with your own lawyer cannot be used against you.  So the lawyer you have retained is the only person you can safely talk to openly.

Lower the temperature

When someone accused you of a crime, he or she was likely very angry. This is especially true if  they accused you of domestic violence. Your goal should be to defuse and descalate the situation however you can. Threats or anger on your part will only make it worse. Try to remain calm, offer an apology, and if you are the target of anger, remove yourself from the situation until things calm down.

If you are ultimately charged with a crime, assert your right to an attorney before any questioning and give us a call.