A criminal accusation can throw your life into shambles. This is especially so if the accusations are false. If an officer shows up at your door and starts asking questions on the grounds that someone falsely accused you of a violent crime, you may panic, and rightfully so. You are innocent, but the officer does not believe you. What should you do? FindLaw has some advice. 

First and foremost, do not say anything other than the basics: Your name, address, place and date of birth and nationality. Other than that, exercise your Miranda rights, as anything you say to the officer can and will be used against you in court. Do not profess your innocence. Do not try to explain things to the police. Do not point fingers to other possible suspects. Remain silent. 

You also should refrain from sharing your side of the story with anyone else. At this point, the police can subpoena statements made in even the most private of conversations for testimony. Though the courts generally consider states you make outside of court as “hearsay,” there are exceptions. For instance, if what you say to your sister contradicts your statement in court, the opposition may use it to discredit your story. 

Next, contact an attorney. An attorney is familiar with the legal system and can skillfully protect you in a number of ways. A lawyer can help you deal with the accuser’s threats, protect you from incriminating yourself, determine if criminal charges actually exist and, if it comes down to it, negotiate with the prosecutors to drop or reduce the charges. 

Finally, depending on how severely the false accusations damaged your reputation and life, you may wish to sue for defamation. If your case is successful, you may be able to recover compensation for all that you lost, including wages from a lost job, loss of job prospects, attorney and legal fees and damaged relationships. Your attorney can help you understand your options, file the charges and protect your rights.