If you are falsely accused of a crime in Texas, your entire life could be affected. Your reputation can be damaged, and you could face long-term repercussions in financial and personal relationships because of these false accusations. If the person who accused you knowingly made false allegations, they could face jail time and fines under Texas law. If you’ve been falsely accused, read below to learn what consequences your accuser could face.
What is a False Allegation?
In order for a person to be accused of making false allegations, you will have to be able to prove in court that they lied on purpose. The difference between telling a lie on purpose and giving the wrong information believed to be true will be an important matter in any false accusations court matter.
For example, if someone accuses you of assaulting them because they are angry at you and want revenge, even though they are fully aware that you did not assault them, they are committing a false allegation.
If someone accuses you of assault but genuinely believes you assaulted them, then this act is not illegal.
False Police Reports
If someone made a false allegation against you that involved a police report, they could be guilty of lying to the police officer. In the state of Texas lying to a police officer is a crime. Making a false police report is a Class B misdemeanor, which can result in the following:
- Fines up to $2,000
- Jail terms up to 180 days
- A mixture of jail and fines
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If your accuser made false allegations under oath, they could be found guilty of perjury or aggravated perjury. In order to be found guilty of perjury, your accuser has to make their allegation under oath or make an untrue statement under the Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
Aggravated perjury involves making a false allegation during an official proceeding, typically a trial. The allegation has to also be “material,” which means it must have an effect on the outcome of the proceedings.
If your accuser is found guilty of perjury, this Class A misdemeanor can carry county jail time of up to 180 days and fines of up to $4,000. If they are found guilty of a third-degree felony charge of aggravated perjury, they can face up to 10 years in state prison and $10,000 in fines.
Other Criminal Charges Involving False Allegations
If a person has falsely accused you of a crime, there are a number of other ways that they could have made a false statement that could result in criminal charges.
Some examples of activities that could result in criminal charges if the accuser has purposefully lied include:
- Making false reports about missing people
- Tampering with evidence
- Fabricating evidence
- Falsifying government records
- Filing false financial statements
These criminal charges can result in felony convictions or misdemeanor convictions, depending on the circumstances of your accuser’s allegations.
Civil Defamation Lawsuits
If someone has accused you of a crime you did not commit, criminal charges may not be the only way that you are able to seek justice. Both the state of Texas and federal laws allow you to seek civil lawsuits against someone making false allegations.
The most common types of lawsuits involving false allegations are defamation lawsuits. Defamation is defined as making false statements about someone that may damage the other person’s reputation. Slander and libel are examples of defamation.
When you pursue a defamation lawsuit, you will be seeking monetary compensation for mental suffering, humiliation, and any embarrassment you suffered. You may also seek compensation for the financial losses that you suffered as a result of being falsely accused. These may include loss of wages and attorney fees.
You may wish to seek a slander lawsuit against your accuser if they make a verbal statement to another party about you that your accuser knew was not true. When seeking a slander lawsuit, you are able to seek justice under both federal law and Texas state law. To demonstrate that someone committed slander, you must prove two things:
1. They made false allegations intentionally against you.
2. Their intentions were to hurt your reputation, job, or standing in the community.
In order to succeed in a libel lawsuit against your accuser, you must be able to demonstrate that they made a printed accusation against you that was both false and made with the intent to harm.
One of the greatest advantages of having a presence on the Internet is the ability to speak your mind about a wide range of subjects. Most websites value free speech and do not put many restrictions upon posts that can cause your reputation serious damage.
Examples of online defamation may be found on the following websites:
- Comment pages
- Blog postings
- Social media sites
- Chat rooms
There are limitations on who you can sue if you have been the victim of false allegations online. The Communications Decency Act prevents you from suing IP providers or website hosts. However, the person responsible for the content may still be held accountable for the comments made. Limitations may still exist, depending upon where the person making the accusation lives.
The option to sue is also only available if the statement is false. If someone publishes an article about you alleging that you assaulted someone, and you lose your job because of it, you cannot sue them for defamation if you did actually assault someone.
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Civil False Imprisonment Lawsuits
In some instances, the civil lawsuit that arises out of false allegations may include lawsuits alleging false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. These lawsuits are filed when you are prepared to demonstrate that the people responsible for the filing and prosecution of your charges were aware that the charges were false.
In these lawsuits, it will not be enough to simply demonstrate that the prosecution lacked a convincing case. You must be able to demonstrate that they had an improper motive to prosecute you.
Navigating The Legal Process
As a victim of false allegations, you have rights under both criminal and civil law. These laws can be difficult to navigate, and it may be best for you to obtain an experienced lawyer who can help you understand what the necessary steps are to pursue legal or criminal charges. Contact the Law Office of Brett Podolsky today to see what we can do for you.