Before testifying in court, witnesses take an oath to “tell the truth and nothing but the truth.” The problem is that people often do not keep their word.

False accusations – especially ones alleging that you committed a crime – can be devastating.

In addition to ruining your professional life, tall tales can also wreak havoc on your mental health while you try to clear your name.

The potential damage doesn’t end there.

False accusations of committing a crime can affect your ability to get a bank-approved loan, future employment, college loans, housing and other aspects of your life.

The Impact of False Accusations

The stain of some false accusations is harder to clear than others.

Being falsely – but believably – accused of a sex crime (in which little-to-no evidence is required) or a drug offense can result in you being virtually tossed from society.

In instances like that, anyone who dislikes you enough has the potential to make your life miserable – and do so with very little effort.

What to Do When You Are Falsely Accused of Something

Being falsely accused of a crime can take the wind out of your sails in a heartbeat. Confusion, anger, frustration, and disbelief are common feelings immediately after hearing the charge.

The sooner you ground yourself and begin to take action, the better your chances are of beating back against the lies and clearing your name.

Break off all contact with the accuser.

The key here is to not provide your accuser with any more ammunition. It’s also best they not see your reaction to the charges.

Begin gathering as much evidence as you can to back up your version of the story.

Any and all proof that you are the one telling the truth will be helpful. It could be emails, texts, social media posts, letters, Facebook messages, testimony from other people who can confirm your version of events, etc.

Speak with a criminal defense lawyer.

With so much at stake, now is not the time to bear all the weight of learning how to defend yourself against false accusations. Even though you didn’t commit the crime you’re accused of, a criminal defense attorney can provide invaluable guidance on your next steps for how to deal with false accusations.

You have a right to remain silent; use it.

The only other person you can trust in talking about any aspect of the false allegations is your attorney. Say nothing more about them to your friends, family, and especially the police.

Let your lawyer do your talking for you so that matters aren’t made worse.

Consider taking legal action against your accuser.

Although all states have laws protecting its citizens from needlessly having their reputations ruined, the Buckeye State’s false accusation law is a bit stronger.

While the terms “slander” and “libel” are often thought to mean the same thing, there’s a difference. While both terms relate to defamation – meaning that your character has been damaged – slander occurs when someone does it by speaking the allegation. Libel is the correct term when the allegation is printed.

To win a defamation case in Ohio, you need to prove that:

  • The accusation was made to a third party (if the accusation was made only to you, there’s no defamation; if it’s made to other people, you may have a case)
  • The accusation was about you and it damaged your reputation
  • The accusation was made with no basis.

As you can see, Ohio takes false accusations very seriously. These rights to protection are provided for individuals, groups and businesses.

Statute of Limitations for Suing for Defamation and False Accusations

Just as with most other legal matters, there is a limited window of time for taking legal action against someone who has made false accusations against you.

For claims of defamation, you need to file your claim within one year.

Protect Your Reputation and the Truth

Your reputation is one of the most valuable possessions you have.

Rumors are one thing, but when false accusation have the possibility of criminal charges being filed, you need the advice and representation of a defense attorney.

For your lawyer to be effective in restoring your good name, it’s crucial you be completely honest with him or her.

Even if a false accusation has some element of truth to it, every effort must be made to separate fact from fiction so that you can get on with your life.