Little in your life will be more important than protecting yourself against false allegations – be they sexual abuse allegations, physical/mental abuse allegations (domestic violence), drug or alcohol abuse allegations, and other types of harassment.
Start saving money. A lot of money. “War Chest” type money. These kinds of cases are expensive. When you are falsely accused of child abuse, rape, or domestic violence you are facing a high probability of criminal charges. If you are facing criminal charges in one of these areas you are facing a very high probability of conviction unless you take strong steps to prevent the issues from getting out of hand. This will require taking steps which include but are not limited to the following:
- Getting specialized psychological testing
- Getting speciallly designed polygraph or similar testing.
- Compiling evidence that will aid in your exoneration.
- Researching and obtaining appropriate experts.
All of these things cost money. When cases of this type rise to the level of arrest and incarceration, we’re speaking in terms of tens-of-thousands of dollars, not simply thousands of dollars. There are no cheap, quick, or easy solutions.
Educate yourself. This starts with choosing the correct attorney as previously detailed. Further, you cannot help defend yourself from a place of ignorance. You’ll need to educate yourself about the allegations you are faced with. When your legal team and experts tell you to do “X” – it is extremely important that you understand why you need to do it. Too much time can be wasted trying to explain every step to you and need not be “sold” on the reasons why. You need to understand why the things are necessary and not just be a wallet and passenger along for the ride. The best results come from a fully involved and informed client. Many lawyers don’t like that, but the better ones demand it.
Some of the text in our issue-specific pages will be repetitive, but only because some of the suggestions apply to all types of situations, such as creating a time-line. If you read them all, don’t stop because you see the same suggestion to open each category. There will be some differences between each.
In an effort to avoid some repetition, here are some suggestions that are appropriate for nearly any type of false allegation:
Put together a time-line. Put it in writing. Begin with day 1 and go through to your current day in as much detail as you can recall. This will be a great aid to your defense. Check your credit card receipts to find out where you shopped and when you went out to eat. Check your bank records to find out when you went food shopping or purchased gas. Think of every conceivable resource that will provide you information that could be critical to establishing your innocence, particularly if you’re privy to the details regarding the date(s) and time(s) when you were reportedly committing the alleged acts.
Begin compiling your list of witnesses. Include names, addresses, phone information, their employment, and even a brief biography of each. Make notes as to the details about which they can testify. Use an outline or bullet-points to keep things brief but details and avoid wordiness. Don’t limit yourself on who you’ve noted. Compile bad witnesses along with the good. Let your team decide who is important and who isn’t. You would be surprised how often seemingly unimportant people can turn out to be the key to the case.
Keep yourself “in-check.” Often people in such a predicament can become their own worst enemies. You will have to watch what you say and do – every move you make. An ill-considered comment can be very damaging to your case. Getting you prepared to handle yourself as early as possible is critical. A good team may have someone who can do that, and assigns them from day one. We know that these are some of the most trying times of your life and that it’s not going to be easy. Still, you must get control of yourself and keep it at all times.
The bottom line is to work hard and never get down on yourself. Keep your head up, do the research, actively participate. Never forget that you are part of the team, too. The most critical member, in fact.
Dean Tong, a nationally known consultant and survivor of a false allegation, offers the following tips:
- Recognize that you’re in for the fight of your life.
- Retain expert legal counsel.
- Find the necessary resources to defend yourself properly.
- Become familiar with the said (Sexual Abuse Incident to Divorce) and Parental Alienation Syndromes.
- Ensure your attorney has experience with voir dire of experts.
- Ensure your attorney has experience litigating daubert-frye (admissibility of opinion and evidence hearings).
- Secure, at least, supervised visitation with your children at the soonest possible opportunity.
- Hold social workers accountable by taking copious notes of interviews. (We often suggest obtaining permission to digitally record all interviews, if possible.)
- If possible, electronically record CPS interviews. (Again, a recommendation by Mr. Custody Coach and something we have done.)
- Don’t incriminate yourself. If you talk to the enemy, it will be used against you in court.
- Do not plea bargain, plead nolo contedere, no contest, accept an alford plea, or consent to dependency in juvenile-family court.
- Do not waive your Constitutional rights.
- Realize that an unfounded finding by CPS could still mean “guilt” in the eyes of the court.
- Document everything throughout the divorce and/or custody suit.
- If something seems wrong, have an eyewitness present at all visits with the children to corroborate your testimony.
- Remain in the house, unless ordered to move by the court or advised to by a professional you trust.
- Treat the accusation very seriously.
- Have an independent psychologist, suggested by your attorney, appointed to evaluate the entire family.
- Attempt to regain custody of visitation immediately, with the understanding such custody or visitation will include constant adult supervision by a third party.
- Shift the court’s focus from the alleged conduct of the accused (you) to the psychological functioning of the accuser (ex-partner).
- Maintain contact with the alleged victim.
- Steadfastly maintain your innocence.
- Keep detailed records about everything.
- Maintain files of all documents and review them for inconsistencies.
- Keep a daily journal of events.
- Track past, present, and future events on the calendar and in the diary, noting where you were, whom you were with, and what you did – whether you had your children or not.
- Obtain evidence that is admissible in court… affidavits from friends, children, and character references.
- Have a reliable witness at all meetings, interviews, and phone conversations.
- After all meetings, interviews, and phone calls, write to the person with whom you spoke, listing the main points discussed and asking that if you have have misinterpreted anything, they respond by return mail to your letter. Mail the original certified, return receipt requested, and keep a copy.
- Obtain transcripts of all proceedings.
- Be careful what you say, it will be used against you.
- Attempt to insure that the child is not being coached.
- Recognize that the social worker is trying to build a case against you, no matter how hard they try to impress you as being helpful.
- Get involved – help yourself and your attorney.
- Take a lie-detector test, paid for in cash.
- Be prepared and willing to go to court.
- Have a family doctor with whom you can substantiate any injuries.
- If possible, have the child independently examined. Do not consent to the child being examined by a doctor associated with social services.
- Do not accept a public defender to represent you.
- Do not expect common sense in the activities of child protection workers, prosecutors, or the courts. Their motivations and objectives are often misguided.
- Do not admit to anything you have not done.
- Do not offend the child protection workers. They will be looking for anything that can be used to case you in a negative light.
- Do not interrogate your child at all about the mother’s intentions/actions or the child’s acute transformation of behavior, if any.
- Do not act guilty.
- Do not make any concessions.
- Do not waive any rights, especially to a hearing.
- Do not attempt to influence the children by telling them horror stories about their mother.
- *DO NOT GIVE UP!