What to Do if Someone Accuses You of Rape
If someone accuses you of rape, you should consider working with a defense attorney immediately. They can fight the possible charges you face.What to Do if Someone Accuses You of Rape
Accusing someone of rape is serious. Whether this is someone you know, an acquaintance, or a stranger, law enforcement will likely take them seriously. You could face arrest and criminal charges regardless of whether this is a false allegation or not. You should take certain actions to ensure you do not face a conviction and legal penalties, including time in prison.
Knowing what to do if someone accuses you of rape is important, too. You should consider contacting a criminal defense attorney immediately. This is your top priority before doing anything else. Do not talk to the police or take any other action before you have an attorney representing you. The possible consequences of a conviction are too serious to waste time and jeopardize your freedom.
If You Face Rape Allegations, Hire an Attorney Right Away
Several circumstances can lead to you learning about rape allegations against you, and all of them call for consulting an attorney to defend you right away.
This is true if:
- Law enforcement wants to question you.
- You face arrest.
- You learn there is a warrant out for you.
Even if you hear rumors or see on social media that these allegations are occurring, it is a good idea to prepare yourself for a forthcoming criminal case. A good way to ensure your freedom, reputation, and future is to work with a criminal defense attorney who handles rape and other sex crimes.
The Prosecution Must Prove Various Elements to Get a Conviction
As noted, rape is a serious allegation, and a conviction comes with major consequences.
A sexual assault or rape conviction requires the prosecutor to have solid evidence and prove:
- You intentionally participated in sexual intercourse or other sexual contact with the accuser.
- You did so without their consent.
While this could seem difficult to prove, many circumstances can create evidence that support false allegations in these cases. It could become your word against the accuser’s. When this occurs, you want someone handling your case who can identify the holes in their story and ensure your voice is heard.
You Could Face Serious Penalties if Convicted
The consequences of facing rape charges are often significant. You could lose your job, lose friends, and lose respect in organizations you care about. Even false allegations could affect your everyday life. If convicted, you will likely face time behind bars and more.
For example, under Arizona law, rape is classified as a Class 2 felony. The sentence that comes with a conviction depends greatly on the circumstances and age of the victim.
However, when the victim is age 15 or above, you could face:
- Five years and three months to 14 years in prison
- Inclusion on the state sex offender registry
The penalties greatly increase if the victim is between 12 and 15 and increase again if the child is under 12 years old.
Focus on Protecting Your Rights If Someone Accuses You of Rape
While you should consider hiring a lawyer after a rape allegation, you still have rights as you consider getting legal help. For instance, you do not have to talk to law enforcement about what happened without an attorney present, and you should not. You have a right to have a lawyer with you throughout this process.
You can ask to contact one personally or have your family hire a lawyer for you. While it could mean more time waiting at the local precinct or in a jail cell, protecting your rights is worth it.
Not only can your lawyer prevent you from saying anything that could hurt your case, but they will also ensure the police follow all protocols. Officers can violate rights and fail to do things “by the book” in an attempt to gather stronger evidence. They hope you will not know any better. This is another reason why an attorney is vital—your lawyer knows your legal rights.
In general, your rights while under arrest include:
- Not answering questions
- Having a lawyer present
- Making a local phone call
- Getting medical attention for any injuries
When possible, try to remember everything that happens before your attorney arrives. Sometimes, the smallest detail reveals a mistake made by law enforcement officers that could prevent the prosecution from using some evidence. Without evidence, the prosecution could have no case against you.
Be On Your Best Behavior Despite the Allegations
It is only natural to be frustrated and angry when someone accuses you of doing something heinous. Even if you know you didn’t do anything wrong, you will have to face others who believe you did. It is difficult to remain calm, but you need to. It is vital to your case that you do not try to run away, resist arrest, or obstruct the officers from doing their job.
Follow the police’s directions, be firm but polite, and do not answer their questions about what occurred. Never lie. If you feel like a lie is necessary, tell them you will not discuss the incident until your lawyer arrives. Throughout this process, this is a good rule to follow. Do not talk about what happened unless your attorney is present and tells you to answer questions.
At the beginning of your case, your attorney can ask you for your side of the story. They want to know all the details and exactly what happened. This is the only time you should discuss the exact circumstances that led to your arrest, unless your lawyer later advises otherwise.
Avoid Discussing the Accusations on Social Media
It is especially important not to post about the case on social media or talk about the details with your friends. It is impossible to know who is on your side and who is not in this type of situation. There are cases where parents, siblings, best friends, and other close relatives testify against the accused party. You do not want to risk giving the prosecution more fodder to use against you.
Do Not Contact the Accuser
It is also imperative that you do not contact the accuser. There could be an order or protection in place, but it is a bad idea even when there is not. Many people believe they can end the allegations by talking to the accuser. This is especially true when it is a significant other, ex, or someone else they know well. However, this usually only heightens emotions and makes the situation worse. Let your attorney and the legal system do their jobs.
Follow All Instructions From Your Attorney
Your attorney’s primary focus will be to develop a strong defense strategy that helps you get the best possible outcome in your case. They can give you instructions and guide your actions throughout this process, protecting you from making the situation worse by saying or doing the wrong thing. Unless you are an expert on criminal justice, rape cases, and local laws, you do not want to handle this on your own.
You probably do not want to use an attorney available through legal aid or another low-income program if possible. Attorneys in these programs often have dozens of cases and little time to give yours the attention it deserves.
These allegations are serious, and you want someone who has the resources, knowledge, and experience to treat you like you are the only case they have. Your attorney can assess your case, learn as much as possible about what happened, and devise a plan to fight the allegations.
Seeking a Better Outcome in Your Case
Just because you face rape allegations does not mean there will be charges. Even if you face charges, this does not mean there will be a conviction. There are often options for getting a better outcome in these situations. This is your attorney’s goal and their primary purpose in representing you.
Some positive outcomes in these cases include:
- Prosecutors not pressing charges
- The court dismissing the charges
- Getting evidence thrown out, which prevents the case from moving forward
- Limiting evidence, which weakens the other party’s case
- Prosecutors reducing the charges
- A deal for a reduced sentence
- Clearing your name at trial
Your attorney can explain the possible outcomes in your case based on its specific details.
Possible Defenses in Rape and Sexual Assault Cases
Your attorney can develop a strong criminal defense in your case based on the circumstances. They can present your side of the story and use evidence to support it. Some possible defenses in rape and sexual assault cases include:
Mistaken identity is not common in rape cases, but it does occur. The reason it is rare is that most accused parties and victims know one another. However, when someone is attacked randomly, especially in low light conditions, it can be difficult to identify the party later. This could lead to your arrest and facing rape allegations from someone you have never met.
This defense either focuses on identifying the party who committed the act or clearing your name by establishing that you could not have raped the alleged victim. Alibis, videos of you elsewhere, receipts from purchases, and other documentation of your activities could play a significant role in this defense.
There Was No Sexual Contact
In some cases, allegations occur when there was no sexual contact between the involved parties. This could occur because the victim gave consent, you did not pursue it, or there were other factors that played a role. However, sexual contact—defined by state laws and often including intercourse, oral sex, and other penetration—must occur for there to be a conviction.
If you say you did not have sexual contact with the accuser, your attorney could use this as a stronghold in your defense. They can ask the prosecutors to prove sexual activity occurred. This could be straightforward to prove with a rape kit, physical examination, or other evidence collected shortly after the alleged victim reported the incident. If there is no evidence, your attorney can ask prosecutors to dismiss the charges.
The Sex Was Consensual
The most common defense in rape cases is that the sex was consensual. The accused party readily admits they engaged in some type of sexual activity with the accuser. The rape kit or exam confirms as much. However, the parties disagree about the circumstances and whether the sex was consensual. This can get complicated.
Rape case defenses often come down to your word against the accuser’s. Here, your attorney can focus on helping you appear to be the trustworthy, credible party while the alleged victim is not honest. This is sometimes necessary but can be difficult if you were once close to the accuser.
The Accuser Uses Rape Allegations as Leverage
Sometimes, divorces, custodial battles, and other legal matters get heated. When that happens, some people stop at nothing to accuse their former partner of rape, hoping to gain the advantage in certain dealings. Your lawyer can use the other party’s motivations as a defense in your case. They could argue that underlying motivations are compelling the accuser to come forward with these baseless allegations.
Discuss Your Options With a Criminal Defense Attorney as Soon as Possible
If you face arrest or charges because someone accuses you of rape, you should consider hiring an attorney. Working with a lawyer as soon as possible after you learn about the allegations could protect your rights and get a more positive outcome in the case. Sometimes, a knowledgeable lawyer can stop these charges before they occur or get them dismissed quickly.
Contact a criminal defense law firm to review your case. You do not have to fight accusations or charges on your own. An attorney can protect your future and fight for your freedom.