This past year, story after story of sexual misconduct in public and private schools has infiltrated the news. In cases that prove the accused is guilty, that individual deserves to receive the appropriate punishment according to the law; however, what happens when someone makes a false accusation? Can an attorney help the accused party?

Unfortunately, both students and teachers alike have made horrific claims without giving any thought to the ramifications for the person they accuse. A false allegation of sexual misconduct can ruin a teacher’s career and personal life: Even if cleared, that person would have a difficult time getting a job in another school or school district. A student accused of sexual misconduct may encounter challenges securing acceptance to college, not to mention the risk of depression, which could lead to something far worse.

With an increasing number of sexual misconduct incidents in schools, authorities must take every claim seriously. If someone has falsely accused you of this, it is essential that you make quick, but appropriate, decisions. The typical response for someone in this situation is to deny the accusations as loudly as possible to as many people who will listen; however, due to the seriousness of the allegation, it is critical that you remain quiet until you speak with an attorney.

Remind yourself that the burden of proof lies on the accuser, meaning that the individual who claimed you did something wrong has to have hard evidence. Of course, as an innocent person, you do not need to feel overly concerned, although that is a natural response. Whether you get detained or arrested, once an officer reads you the Miranda Rights, stay quiet except to ask to talk with your attorney.

The attorney you hire will start their own investigation, separate from law enforcement. The goal is to gather evidence, talk to witnesses, obtain a copy of the school’s harassment policy, and more. Along with discussing the right way to defend yourself, your attorney will advise you as to what you can expect during a formal criminal investigation; that way, you can prepare mentally.

At the end of what may seem like an endless process, once you get cleared of any sexual misconduct, you may have options to counter-charge your accuser as well as the school, depending on its involvement. For instance, you can file a defamation claim against the accuser considering that person lied and, in exchange, you suffered immeasurable damages.

While your attorney can look at other legal options, the first step is getting through the investigative process and proving your innocence. For something like this, you need a top-notch attorney who will work hard to prove your innocence and prevent the situation from spiraling out of control.

While you might feel helpless and hopeless, as an innocent person, you need to fight back. To succeed in that battle, you want a powerful attorney standing by your side.