Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima
Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima


The professional team at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima
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  4.  | Can I be charged with a crime based off someone’s word alone?

Can I be charged with a crime based off someone’s word alone?

Unfortunately, the short answer to that question is yes. This may seem far fetched and hard to believe, but with certain cases in our justice system law enforcement and prosecutors charge people with crimes based upon an accusation alone. This scenario is seen most common in accusations of sexual assault or sexual misconduct. In accusations of sexual assault, there is rarely any direct evidence to prove what did or did not happen. This is often because there are no witnesses to what happened, no documentation, and some accusers wait significant periods of time before making their claims. When this occurs, prosecutors and law enforcement agents must go off someone’s word alone. When evaluating the accusation and person making these claims, police must examine the accuser’s credibility.

What is witness credibility?

Put in non-legal terms, credibility is what people use to determine and analyze why someone is believable. Credibility can be based on someone’s motive to say something, their knowledge of the issue, an individual’s body language, or what a person seeks to gain by saying something. For example, if someone has something to gain by making false allegations – money, custody of a child, or victory in a divorce – that all factors into how believable someone’s allegations could be. An individual’s credibility is one of the most important issues in cases of sexual assault because when you are accused of something like sexual assault, everyone from police, prosecutors, judges, and jurors will all ask the question, “Well why would this accuser make these claims up?”

What people do not realize is that there are a significant number of reasons why individuals make false allegations and accusations up out of thin air. In a day and age where anyone can sit behind a keyboard or phone screen, it is very easy to make allegations that can ruin innocent peoples’ lives. That is why it is so important to have strong legal representation to fight back when your livelihood is on the line.

What should I do if someone accuses me of sexual assault?

The first thing you should do upon hearing you’re being accused is to contact a lawyer. In these situations of extreme stress, anxiety, and unknowns, it is very tempting to call the police and make a statement on your own behalf. Don’t do that. In cases of innocence, it is even more important to come in with counsel and have a prepared, organized, and well thought out statement prior to speaking with law enforcement.

When you are accused of something, your credibility is very important in the early stages of an investigation. Giving multiple statements, unorganized statements, or uncounseled statements open you up to risk. Police officers and detectives are trained to put pressure on you and get you flustered and emotional in hopes of obtaining incriminating evidence. Even the smallest change in detail in an otherwise true story can be twisted as you lying to the police. It is crucial that you have protection and someone fighting for your innocence alongside you prior to making any sort of statement.

How can a lawyer help in sexual assault cases?

Retaining an attorney is vital when you are accused of sexual assault. An attorney can speak with the officer or detective assigned to your case so that you do not have to worry about being interrogated or police showing up as your front door or place of employment. An attorney can also assist you in attacking your accuser’s credibility and helping you show what this individual stands to gain by accusing you of false accusations. As an attorney, it is our job to explore why an accuser may be biased, vengeful, or bitter and show that to law enforcement.

An example of a very common area in which we see false allegations arise is out of family law disputes. Unfortunately, when there is a contested custody or divorce battle, individuals will use anything to gain an edge and get what they want, even falsely accusing someone of a crime. That is why it is so important to obtain legal counsel the moment you are accused of something. An attorney knows how to obtain court filings, adequate records, and package this information in a manner to make law enforcement see your accuser’s motive to make false allegations.

Who should I call if accused of sexual assault?

The criminal defense team at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima is equipped to fight for you and protect you when these false allegations are made. We have experience with these types of cases and practice throughout southwest Ohio. We have experience working with prosecutors and law enforcement in Warren, Butler, Hamilton, Clermont, Montgomery, Greene, Clinton, Preble, Highland, and Brown County. It would be our honor and privilege to fight for you and protect your livelihood, reputation, and freedom. If you are accused of something or need any type of legal assistance, call our 24/7 line at 513-496-0134. Our consultations are free and we are here for you.