The answer is, we may never fully know as a society how many allegations are truly false. But, what we do know statistically, is that a tremendous number of the allegations made by victims are not accurate, are exaggerated or sometimes completely fabricated. These allegations apply to rape cases, sex offense cases, perverted practice cases and every type of sex allegation in Maryland and can truly have a devastating effect on the accused and their families. Unfortunately, the sex offender registration usually applies.
Why Do People Make False Allegations?
There are unlimited reasons why people make up crimes. Sometimes it is to get back at an individual or simply make themselves out to be a “victim” bringing desired attention. Many time the alleged victim truly has the perception that a crime occurred but when looked at objectively, it probably didn’t occur. One of the largest reasons why this arises is something I find as a defense lawyer quite fascinating. Many people “look” for reasons to justify feelings of inadequacy or failure in their life which can actually lead them to “formulate” a false memory in the brain according to memory experts. In other words, if I’m depressed or have not achieved in life, there must be a underlining cause or reason for that. Ask most therapists about this, even though this may be a oversimplification of the subject.
We have seen many times in the past and also just recently in the Jessie Smollett case how people allegedly fabricate and may go to great lengths to cast the victim label unto themselves. They do it for many reasons, greed, fame, money, notoriety and sometimes to make a political statement. The reasons are endless. There may be no definitive answer about how to solve this issue except to look at each individual case and thoroughly pick-apart the evidence piece by piece.
The Damage is Done
Even if the defendant who has been accused is vindicated, often the scars and pain that person experienced by being falsely accused stays with them their entire life. Not to mention the shadow of being labeled a sex abuser before the die has been cast. I can’t tell you how many Defendants I have represented ask immediately after they are vindicated, “What can I do to the person who made these allegations and are now proven false? Can I sue?”. The answer is usually no, but not always. It depends on the circumstances because a civil law suit carries a lesser burden of proof than a criminal matter. It can be dangerous to re-open the issue in a different court for civil damages.
The Judicial System is Designed to Primarily Protect the Alleged Victim
The problem is, that when someone is accused of a sex offense such as rape, the judicial system immediately “kicks in” to protected the victim. Sometimes without much proof or substance. All it takes is a little drama and an allegation. As a society, we have to be very careful, because a balancing of “process” needs to occur. In other words, we absolutely need to take seriously each and every allegation of sex abuse. For too long victims have felt suppressed and unable to “tell” their story in this country. But on the other hand, any tool of hope can turn into a tool of oppression if not watched carefully.
What Can An Accused Person Do?
So, what is a person who has been accused of a sex offense suppose to do? No doubt there may be some tortuous times ahead. But, our judicial system does allow for these crimes to be flushed out to show innocence or at least reasonable doubt. As I point out in my book, “There is Only an Opportunity for Justice”, truly, a defendant has to make that occur, not just expect it to occur. A criminal defendant desperately needs a legal team that is competent and capable in pursuing every possible avenue so the judicial adversary system can work properly. A strong family support does doesn’t hurt either!