Charged With Crime In Philadelphia Pennsylvania
What To Do If You Are Charged With A Crime That You Did Not Commit
Being charged with a crime you didn’t commit is one of the most harrowing experiences a person can go through. The Philadelphia criminal justice system does not take crime lightly, and nobody wants to be on the wrong side of the law against a Philadelphia prosecutor. If you are falsely accused, this tough on crime attitude can quickly become extremely dangerous.
Why Do False Accusations Happen?
There are a number of situations and circumstances that can lead to an innocent person being falsely charged with a crime they did not commit.
In some cases, false accusations are malicious: that is, they are the result of one or several people knowingly and deliberately lying to the authorities to accuse you of a crime you did not commit. In most cases, however, false accusations are largely a matter of one or several mistakes or misperceptions made throughout the course of a criminal investigation.
Often, false accusations involve mistaken identity, in which a victim or a witness to a crime misidentifies you as the perpetrator, or misrecollection, in which one or more pertinent details are misremembered by people being interviewed by the police (or by the police themselves), resulting in the evidence seeming to point toward you.
In some cases, false charges are often made due to unclear or misleading forensic evidence that seems to indicate you, or is exaggerated or misrepresented in order to implicate you. Official misconduct by police is also a common factor, whether inadvertent (making mistakes in an investigation) or deliberate (abusing power to advance their case despite lack of evidence).
Regardless of what caused the false accusation against, you, standing accused of a crime you did not commit is very serious, and should be carefully and deliberately handled.
I Have Just Been Falsely Accused Of A Crime In Philadelphia. What Should My First Steps Be?
As soon as you possibly can, your very first step should be to reach out to an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney. An attorney will be able to ask all of the relevant questions and advise you about next best steps in your specific case (beyond the general advice we can give in this article). As a rule, the sooner a criminal defense attorney is brought on to a case, the better they can help you, and the better your chances of beating the false accusation.
Importantly, reaching out to an attorney as soon as possible does not suggest guilt and cannot be held against you. You have the right to legal representation at any time. An attorney is crucial to help prevent you from accidentally incriminating yourself, even though you are innocent.
After you have retained an attorney, additional steps may include:
- Evidence Gathering: If you aren’t in custody, you should start gathering evidence to make the case for your innocence. This includes gathering any physical evidence relating to the charges (i.e., clothing, photos, videos, etc.), any documents or records that could relate to the case (i.e., emails, text or messenger chat log printouts, letters, financial or legal records, receipts, travel and toll tickets, phone and GPS records, or any other record or document that may provide context or an alibi).
- Scene Reconstruction/Lost Evidence List: If there are essential pieces of evidence from the crime scene that you know may exist but that you have not yet been able to physically locate (i.e., objects, documents, traces of blood or bullet casings, etc.), make a list of those objects and try to connect the dots with your attorney.
- Witness List: Make a list of anyone that you think might have information about the incident, the accusations, the alleged victim, or even information about you (and/or your whereabouts at the time of the crime). If possible, find their contact information and give everything you find to your attorney so they can potentially pursue witness statements.
What Should I Avoid Doing If I Am Falsely Accused Of A Crime In Philadelphia?
There are certain things that you absolutely should not do—and certainly not without your attorney’s permission— if you have been falsely accused of a crime. These include:
- Trying to talk to the victim or reaching out to witnesses.
- Posting about the case or any associated matter online, especially on social media
- Destroying any evidence, even if you think it might hurt you down the line.
- Talking to law enforcement, detectives, or investigators at all whatsoever without an attorney present
- Voluntarily submitting to testing (i.e., DNA tests, polygraphs, etc.) or giving any evidence to law enforcement without your attorney signing off on it.
If you have been charged with a crime that you did not commit, it is essential that you get a criminal defense attorney on your side as soon as possible. The right attorney can make all the difference in your case.
In Philadelphia, PA, the criminal defense attorney to call is Attorney John Rooney. Attorney Rooney has the knowledge, experience, and tenacity to help you beat your charges and get your life back. Reach out today for a free consultation on your case.