You probably don’t expect it. However, sometimes, petty arguments can leave you facing serious legal challenges from someone that you know or even love. We are talking about false sexual harassment accusations. Some people misuse the serious charge of sexual harassment to get revenge, gain an upper hand, or simply harm another person. When you are falsely accused of sexual harassment, you should consult a Peekskill criminal defense lawyer for advice.

The results of a sexual harassment charge can be devastating, even if you are wrongly accused and are finally acquitted. What options do you have if you have been falsely accused of sexual harassment? Also, what are the consequences of falsely accusing a person of sexual harassment?

Unfortunately, sexual harassment is a touchy subject that most people choose to keep quiet about, even when they are falsely accused. Some prosecutors are notorious for siding with false accusers even when there is clear evidence that the claims are false. Moreover, generally, the police want sexual harassment victims to feel free to report allegations. This is one of the reasons why very few false sexual harassment claims are prosecuted criminally.

What to Do When Falsely Accused of Sexual Harassment

When false sexual harassment charges have been brought up against you, it is important to understand your rights. New York legal system presumes an individual is innocent until proven guilty. However, the system does not offer protection against being falsely accused and even potentially convicted. 

Victims of false sexual harassment claims, therefore, need to find their own way out of the legal consequences of the accusations. An experienced lawyer can help to build a strong defense and prove your innocence in a court of law. The attorney can also help you recoup damages resulting from the false accusation.

You can still fight sexual harassment charges without involving a lawyer. However, even without a conviction, the damage would already have been done. Your life and reputation could be destroyed when you are falsely accused of sexual harassment. The result? You may have to deal with life-changing consequences such as:

  • Dismissal or loss of employment
  • Loss of income and inability to get a new job due to the false claims
  • Mental torture and damage to your reputation
  • Costs of carrying out DNA tests to prove you are innocent
  • Costs of hiring your defense team to fight the false allegations

Falsely Accused of Sexual Harassment? Do’s and Don’ts

So, what should you do when you have been falsely accused of sexual harassment? Here are some guidelines on what to do and what not to.

Don’t Say Anything

When false sexual harassment allegations are brought against you, do not try to defend yourself at the time. You have a right to remain silent. Even if the police want to question you, do not say anything. Remember, whatever you say immediately or days after the allegations have been brought up against you can be used as evidence in court. This includes anything that you may say to the police, family members, work colleagues, or friends when giving your side of the story. Stay silent about the allegations.

Take the Accusations Seriously

Sexual harassment allegations, whether true or false, can have severe consequences. Therefore, it is important to educate yourself about the accusations and deal with them immediately. Find out what the legal system says about the accusations and what your rights are. 

Document the details of the situation that you believe led you to being falsely accused of sexual harassment and, if possible, compile a list of witnesses. Also, consider whether there are any alibis that can discredit the allegations.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

Next, you want to get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible. The constitution guarantees you a right to be represented by a lawyer. Any information that you tell the attorney will be confidential. Therefore, be truthful when providing the details of the case to the lawyer. It is in your best interest for the attorney to know everything so that he/she can mount a strong defense.

Here are some ways that the lawyer will help you:

  • Build a strong defense against the charges
  • Negotiate with the prosecutors
  • Determine if charges have been filed and for what crime
  • Advise you on what not to do to avoid incriminating yourself
  • Advocate on your behalf with police officers
  • Legally deal with the accuser’s threats

How an Attorney Will Build Your Case

After listening to your side of the story, the lawyer will determine the best course of action to take to build a strong defense. Here are some options that the legal professional may pursue:

Alibi

If you claim that you are innocent of a sexual harassment charge, the attorney will ask you to provide a solid alibi. The alibis you can provide include:

  • Records. Do you have financial records, transportation tickets, movie tickets, or receipts that can provide a timestamp and location to show where you were at the time when the alleged sexual assault occurred?
  • Witnesses. Are there people that can confirm your alibi by stating that they saw you somewhere at the time that the alleged assault happened?

Consent

The lawyer may also want to pursue a consent option. This option is difficult to prove as it rests on the idea that the victim approved the behavior that you are accused of. Examples of proof that may be accepted in a consent option include text or video messages between you and the accuser approving or joking of the behavior. 

By: Kimberly Pelesz

Family law and criminal defense attorney Kimberly A. Pelesz received a B.S. degree magna cum laude and an M.P.A. degree summa cum laude from Binghamton University. She earned her J.D. from Pace University School of Law in White Plains, where she was selected for Phi Alpha Delta. Her charitable activities include work with My Sisters’ Place in White Plains and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Humane Education Taskforce.