Nothing is more frustrating than being accused of something you didn't do. Accusations can be made at any level from participation in a community setting like a parent-teacher's association, at work, or more seriously in a criminal case. Here are some tips on how to respond to false accusations.
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Say nothing. Of course, this is all predicated on what the situation is; but for the most part, if someone accuses you of something, the best thing you can do is say nothing. It seems like strange advice. But in the moment emotions can run high. If someone has accused you of something, they are probably already frustrated, upset or even downright angry. By telling them you are innocent, a point of view which is counter to theirs, you will most likely only inflame the argument. Now sometimes accusations do require answers right away; in that case, suggest a change of setting. Calmly and rationally say to the person that you believe they are mistaken. Offer to grab lunch or a cup of coffee and to let you explain your side of the story to them. This will diffuse the momentary tension. Again, do this immediately only if necessary.
Consider representation. Now that you've been accused of something, take a moment to seriously consider if you need counsel, legal or otherwise. If you are not sure, call a solicitor and speak to them. Usually there is no charge for an initial consultation. Do not overlook this step. Certain matters seem as if they are small, but can quickly get out of control if you are left fending for yourself and put in the position of having to choose your words carefully.
Gather evidence. Since you know you are innocent, now is the time to gather the evidence that supports your claim. This will obviously be different in each situation. Think about credit card receipts, appointments, emails, bank records. Anything that is in written form which can support your claim will help to eradicate the claims against you.
Prepare your argument. Take your evidence and organise it in a way that makes logical sense to support your claim. If you were accused of cheating on a spouse, start with where you were that night, show receipts or emails to support your claim in chronological order. As you shrink the time window of where you were and who you were with, you will slowly begin to win the argument. Chronology is the key as your argument must make sense. If someone accused you of something in writing, respond to their claim in writing. For instance, a cable company might be trying to say you didn't properly return a cable box when you moved. By responding in writing you are creating a paper trail that you can use as evidence either with the cable company or the credit bureaus. Even if you must write multiple letters over the course of several months, it will go a long way to establishing the truth of your story.
Contact the person who made the accusation. If you have legal counsel, obviously follow their instructions, as they will most likely not want you contacting the other party. But if this is a matter that should be addressed by you face to face, it is time to contact the other party. Schedule a time where you can meet with them to share your side of the story. Remember, stay clam and respectful on the phone. Also, do not meet on their turf or in their office. Suggest neutral venue like a lunch spot or coffee shop.
Explain your side. Now that you're face to face with the person, address the accusation they made against you. Remember to keep emotion out of the way. If you've done your homework properly and have evidence, it should be fairly easy to eradicate the claim. Lay your evidence out in chronological order. Give them a chance to respond. Do not expect an apology from them, as it may or may not happen. Truthfully they may feel completely embarrassed if you were in the right. Also know that sometimes people need to "agree to disagree." Meaning, if there is no punitive action that you will suffer from this accusation, and you cannot convince this person with your evidence of your innocence, then it may be in everybody's best interest if you just drop it. Is it satisfying? Probably not. But at the end of the day there are only so many battles one can fight in life. Move onto something that betters you or your career and stop wasting time with the bonehead who made false accusations against you. You have responded to them and if they don't get it, it's their loss.
Tips and warnings
- Make sure you have a piece of evidence to deny each point of your opponent's claim.
- If the accusation is criminal, seek legal counsel immediately. This article is intended for issues which can be resolved without use of the law.