There are several reasons why a person can find him or herself wrongly accused of a sexual offence of any kind, varying from rape to the alleged making/possessing/distribution of indecent images.
The allegation may be false in its entirety or, certainly, with a rape or touching allegation it may be that consent is the issue.
The fundamental cornerstone of the criminal law in England and Wales with indecent images (commonly known as IIoC) there could have been inadvertent downloading of illicit material by peer to peer file sharing and the like.
Here we provide a brief guide on what to do (and what not to do) if falsely/wrongly accused of a sexual offence. You can also now read answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.
This is especially true if an individual is defending allegations of rape or other sexual offences, as the identity of the accused is rarely protected in such cases.
The prospect of Court proceedings, being sentenced to a term of imprisonment or a period of time on the “Sex Offenders Register” when falsely accused of such a crime can cause untold trauma.
The fundamental cornerstone of the law in England and Wales is the right to be presumed “innocent” until proved guilty. However, that does not mean that legal proceedings will necessarily run smoothly for the party who believes that he/she has been wrongly accused. Parties should not confuse “innocence” with being found not guilty.
The legal process and the substantive law are not in a falsely accused person’s favour.
Here we provide a brief guide on what to do (and what not to do) if falsely/wrongly accused of a sexual offence in England or Wales. We will also discuss the approach to criminal defence where an individual faces a trial at Court based on incorrect charges.
Behaviour following a false accusation of a sexual offence
Seek Legal Assistance
It is vital that individuals seek legal advice where false accusations have been made against them. This includes obtaining the best advice possible at the police interview stage as what is said in an interview can often form part of a defence statement (hyperlink to the article about defence statements) and of course the full defence at trial.
The criminal law and procedures that apply differ depending on the facts of the case. The law in this respect can be complex. A wrongfully/falsely accused person will be in the best position to defend against a false allegation of a sexual nature where represented by an experienced lawyer who has a deep understanding of the criminal justice system in this respect.
It is important that legal assistance is sought as soon as possible after the accusations are made. At Sutton Defence Lawyers, our team of highly qualified lawyers provide legal advice and representation to clients who believe they have been wrongly accused of rape or sexual assault. We provide accurate and timely advice and ensure our clients’ rights are upheld throughout legal proceedings.
Avoid Raising Suspicion
It is not uncommon for people who have been falsely accused of a crime to try and take matters into their own hands in the hope of resolving the situation quickly and with minimal impact. This is especially common in cases where the Complainant is known to the accused, for example, a neighbour, colleague, partner/former partner or family member.
In most circumstances, behaviour like this only makes matters worse for the wrongly accused person, as there is a high risk that the stress and upset involved could cause them to act in a way that is damaging to their case. By way of example, it would be detrimental to their situation if someone who is falsely accused of such an offence to then approach the Complainant either directly or via a third party and be abusive or physically violent towards that person or to attempt to persuade them not to continue with the allegation.
Although it may seem impossible, it is very important for someone who is wrongly accused to remain calm in order to avoid aggravating their situation. This means, where possible, avoiding any interaction with other people who are involved in the investigation, including the complainant and any witnesses. Where contact with such people is unavoidable, it is recommended that a witness who is not involved in the case be present.
When facing false criminal accusations it is vital that evidence that could be used during the investigation is not interfered with. Hiding or destroying evidence that a wrongfully accused person believes could be incriminating will only raise suspicion and these actions are likely to be used to support the case against them.
It is recommended that a client consult their solicitor before taking any actions that could have a negative impact on the investigation.
Click here to read our article "Make it All Go Away"
False/Wrong Accusations of Rape, Sexual Assault or other Sexually Motivated Crimes – Criminal Defence
Where a person who believes that they have been wrongly accused of a crime faces trial before a Criminal Court, we will closely examine the Prosecution’s case and evidence with the purpose of establishing that one or more of the essential elements of the crime have not been met.
We may make applications in relation to the Complainant’s bad character, previous sexual history (known as a Section 41 Application) and other applications in an attempt to obtain further and better disclosure and information from the Prosecution that may assist the Defence.
Highly valuable evidence collected from police reports; witness and experts statements and any other relevant evidence (including Prosecution unused material) and third party material (such as medical reports and Social Services information) may be used to demonstrate the allegations to be false or in order to enhance defence.
Sutton Defence Lawyers Professional Legal Advice and Criminal Defence
It can be distressing and feel very unjust to be wrongly accused of a sexual crime. Our experience in all matters of criminal defence, and our deep understanding of the impact that false accusations can have on both those wrongly accused and their families, means we are excellently placed to provide advice and representation in these cases.
The distress and confusion of legal proceedings can be significantly reduced if expert legal advice is sought at an early stage. At Sutton Defence Lawyers, our specialist criminal defence lawyers are ready to offer professional legal advice and representation from the initial police interview to proceedings at court.
We take a diligent approach to each case, carefully examining all the evidence and creating defence statements that will achieve the best possible outcome for our clients. With a genuine appreciation for the effect that being falsely accused can have, we always put our clients’ interests first.
Led by criminal defence lawyer Stuart Sutton, our Special Casework Team is made up of some of the best criminal defence lawyers in the UK. Well-known for their professionalism and expertise, as well as their client-focused approach, they are able to identify the available options to ensure the best possible outcome.
Contact Our Sexual Offences Defence Lawyers (Yorkshire, London, Birmingham, Manchester)
Our robust defence preparation, attention to detail and professional representation makes us the first choice for criminal defence. These key traits are essential to safeguarding the rights of our clients from allegations of criminal activity. We discuss all the available options in order to find and implement the best course of action.
Our expert sexual offence solicitors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ready to advise and assist. For more information, please contact Stuart Sutton on 07798 753 720 or get in touch via our online contact form.