Dos and Don’ts
The Center for Prosecutor Integrity focuses on policy reforms and media awareness. CPI does not offer legal advice or handle individual cases. Following is a list of general recommendations and resources for those who believe they have been falsely accused or wrongfully convicted.
If you have been falsely accused of sexual assault:
What to Do:
- Immediately contact and retain a local criminal defense attorney. If necessary, contact your county’s bar association for a list of attorneys in your area.
- Gather any physical evidence pertaining to the incident, including clothing, photos, videos, or other objects.
- Gather any documents or records that could relate to the case, such as letters, emails, financial or legal records, phone and GPS records, computer records, and other records that show where you were at the time of an incident.
- Make a list of any evidence from the crime scene (objects, documents, blood, bullet casings) that you know exists but were not able to take from the scene.
- Make a list of possible witnesses – any person you think has information about the incident, accusations, or the alleged victim – and obtain the witnesses’ contact information.
- Be prepared to share all of this information and material with an attorney.
What NOT to Do:
- Destroy evidence that you think could hurt you, as this may cast you in an even more suspicious light and can lead to more criminal charges.
- Try to talk to the complainant about the case or have any contact with the complainant or witnesses.
- Talk to law enforcement or other investigators without an attorney present.
- Voluntarily submit to any testing, such as DNA tests; or give any evidence to law enforcement without first consulting with a lawyer – even if you believe the evidence will show you are not a guilty party.
If you have been wrongfully convicted, these are organizations dedicated to achieving exonerations:
- Centurion Ministries – represents wrongfully convicted individuals nationally
- The Innocence Network – affiliation of state and international organizations representing wrongfully convicted individuals located in their specific geographic region
- FACE – non-profit organization dedicated to promoting due process and fairness for college students accused of sexual assault along with providing resources and support information for wrongly accused college students
- National Center for Reason and Justice – assists people who are falsely convicted or accused of crimes against children nationally
- Save Our Heroes – non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of accused service members from all branches of the military