Can I still be charged for a crime that I did not do? 50 Answers as of July 08, 2013

My neighbors called the police and falsely accused me of waving a gun at them during a heated argument. When the police came, they asked me if I have a gun. I said no, I don't own or carry a gun. So the police took the report and left. Can I still be charged with a crime I didn't do?

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Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
I'd recommend you retain a lawyer to assist you. Whether a person is charged and whether they may be convicted are two different issues. Simply because a person is charged does not mean that ultimately, a person charged with the offense will be found guilty. Anyone charged with an attorney is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/8/2011
Levine & McHenry LLC
Levine & McHenry LLC | Matthew McHenry
It's possible, but keep in mind that just because you can be charged with a crime does not mean you can be convicted. The police report will go to the local district attorney's office, who will decide whether to issue any charges. If the officer and/or the DA believe your neighbor was truthful, you will likely be charged. If not, you likely will not be. If you are, you should hire an attorney immediately.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 10/21/2011
Law Office of Richard Williams
Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
Yes, you can be charged. The neighbors can sign a complaint and you will be arrested and forced to defend yourself in Court.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 10/17/2011
Shane Law Office
Shane Law Office | Robert J. Shane
Yes, you can still be charged with a crime you did not commit. There are thousands of innocent people in jail right now convicted of crimes they did not commit. In your case, there is a risk that you could be charged with terroristic threats and felony assault for allegedly waving the gun at your neighbor. The prosecution may attempt to prove their case at trial by presenting the eye witness testimony of your neighbor alone. The case will be more difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt without the a gun in evidence to corroborate the eye witness testimony of your neighbor. Be aware that the the police may return to your home with a search warrant in an attempt to locate a gun in order to bolster their case.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 10/13/2011
Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
To be charged, the prosecutor would have to be convinced that there is probable cause a crime was committed and probable cause you did it. People are charged with crimes they didn't commit and then have to defend against the charge.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/13/2011
    Keyser Law Firm
    Keyser Law Firm | Christopher W. Keyser
    It's possible that you could be charged still if the police and the prosecution believe there is enough evidence to convict you. If you do not own a gun or have a gun in your possession, it seems unlikely you will be charged per your neighbors' complaint.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/13/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
    You could be but the DA will have to prove it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/28/2011
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
    Unfortunately, yes; this happens all the time. My advice to you is to hire an attorney immediately and do not discuss the details of your case with anyone. The good news is that the charging of a crime does not mean that you will be found guilty.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/12/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    Yes you can be charged with a crime whether you did it or not. The prosecution has the burden to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/28/2011
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/3/2013
    Law Office of Charles J. Block
    Law Office of Charles J. Block | Charles J. Block
    Sure, but the possibility of being convicted seems very remote since the police did not do anything at the time they came out to take the report, particularly since there was no gun.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 10/12/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    If there is evidence that you did it, yes
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/28/2011
    Law Office of Ernest T. Biando, LLC | Ernest Biando
    Anyone can be charged with a crime-even if innocent. It is a good idea to have an attorney just in case the police decide to either ask for an interview with you or charge you.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 10/12/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    Based on the facts you've laid out, it sounds like you will not be charged. The DA's office is not interested in issuing cases they cannot prove. The neighbors' testimony is not very strong evidence absent an actual gun being found.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/12/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    Many people are charged with crimes they did not commit. Yes, you could be charged. However, if you do not own a weapon and the police didn't find one, they might not want to file charges. But, a report will be written and the case presented to the prosecutor to determine if charges will be filed.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/12/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    If they think they can prove it, yes you can be charged.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/28/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    Anybody can be charged with a crime. The question then becomes can the prosecution meet their burden of proof. That is an entirely different matter. If the case is that weak or simply one person's word against another one, that will be a hard case to stand up to a "beyond all reasonable doubt." If concerned, you can always speak to a lawyer for a more specific analysis. Most lawyers will offer a free initial consultation.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/12/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You can be charged with a crime if the witnesses sign supporting depositions and the police get a judge to sign an arrest warrant. The police do not like to charge a crime unless they think the person is guilty and can prove it. If they did not believe the witnesses or believed you they might decide to just let it go. They might also be getting an arrest warrant signed which can take a week or more. They may call you and ask tou to talk to them or surrender on the warrant. You should retain an attorney and refer the police to your lawyer if they contact you. Never talk to the police no matter what they promise or threaten. Demand an attorney and insist at the questioning stop. Be polite but firm and do not say anything other than to insist that the questioning stop until a lawyer is present.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/12/2011
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin | Daniel K Martin
    Yes, you most certainly can be charged with a crime under these circumstance. As of January 2011, 266 people who were not only charged, but convicted of crimes have been proven innocent in the United States. People are charged with crimes that they did not commit every court day in the United States.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/12/2011
    Law Offices of Louis M. Leibowitz, LLC
    Law Offices of Louis M. Leibowitz, LLC | Louis Leibowitz
    Yes. Innocent people get charged with crimes everyday. If you get charged, you should see a lawyer right away
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 10/12/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Yes. Cops only make a decision if they are going to arrest. They decided not to. Cops may or may not file a report which is sent to DA. It is the DA who decides to file or not file charges.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/12/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    You would be surprised how many people are charged with a crime that they did not do. It is not unusual for the police not to arrest a person on the spot. Often they will investigate the incident and a detective or higher ranking officer will make the decision to arrest or not. It can also go up to the DAs office for evaluation before an arrest is made. Most times this will take less than a year. As you can see all criminal cases depend on the facts.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/12/2011
    McCormack Law Office
    McCormack Law Office | Erin Michael McCormack
    Yes, innocent people can be charged with crimes. The police are not god, they do not actually know what the truth is in every circumstance. Most of the time, if the police believe that probable cause exists to support a charge, they'll have a statement of charges issued initiating criminal proceedings against an individual. Individuals can also be charged by way of a private criminal complaint made to a commissioner. Whether or not something occurred as alleged, is what is called a question of fact for the trier of fact to resolve. The trier of fact is either the jury or judge (if you elect a bench trial). The State has the burden of proof and has to convince the trier of fact beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offense. Always consult an attorney if charges are generated against you.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 10/28/2011
    The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC
    The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC | Patrick J. McDonnell
    If the police have a reasonable belief, based on the circumstances they investigate, that you did commit the crime, then...yes.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/28/2011
    Baner and Baner
    Baner and Baner | Jonathan Baner
    So if someone has been found not guilty wouldn't that mean to you that they possible did not do the crime they were alleged to have done? And since there is probably a great number of people that have been found guilty, then probably there are numerous people that have been charged with a crime they did not do? And so, therefore, at least based on that information wouldn't you think that it may be possible to be charged with a crime you claim you didn't do? Are the police/prosecutors omnipotent beings that understand some pure truth that mortals do not? No? Oh, so probably when a victim says someone did X crime, but the alleged perpetrator then states he did NOT do X crime, the police/prosecutors have to try to find where the truth is? And since they are not omnipotent beings they might mistakenly believe the victim based on some circumstantial evidence (e.g. DNA) that doesn't prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt?
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/8/2013
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson | Kathryn L. Hudson
    The police likely left because it was determined that the neighbor either was mistaken or made a false accusation. If you do not own a gun and non aside from the neighbor saw you with a gun it is highly unlikely you will be charged with a crime.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 10/12/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    Unless they searched and found a gun, no DA will go to trial with this. You might consider suing however.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/12/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    Unfortunately, you can always be charged with a crime if the Complainant gives a sworn Affidavit (statement) to the police saying you did something illegal. Then its up to you to defend yourself. Basically, its their word against yours. Speak to a lawyer right away for more details.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/12/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    Yes, you can be charged. Police have discretion to bring charges. You do not have to speak with police and should not make any statements.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 10/12/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    There is a possibility that you could be charged even if the police didn't charge you immediately. If you are charged with a crime you didn't commit, you would need to consult with an attorney to protect your rights and help you contest the charge.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 10/11/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Yes. This happens every day.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/11/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    For sure. It is very easy to be arrested. All your neighbors have to do is file charges. You need to hire an attorney asap. Don't talk to the police and try and get out of it.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/11/2011
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law | Eric Mark
    You can. The police can do more investigation. They have 5 years to charge you, but the more time that passes the less likely you are to see charges.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 10/11/2011
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    You can, but you will have to wait to see if you will be charged.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 10/28/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    Yes, you can be charged for this aggravated assault, however, if the police never recovered a gun, and you denied ever being in possession of one, I would doubt that the police would waste the Court's time with this case, it is basically one person's word against the other. If you are arrested, you should retain counsel to represent you, and insist on a trial.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 10/11/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    Perhaps. But if you didn't do as was alleged, then it is not likely.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/28/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    You may be charged but it will be a contest of credibility. Since a toy gun can cause fear if it looks real, you could be convicted for waving a real-looking toy gun. The problem with the prosecution would be that the cops found neither. Therefore, unless the neighbors gave a detailed description of the alleged gun to the cops, the case will probably not go anywhere.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/11/2011
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre
    Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre | Jonathan T. Sarre
    If there's no evidence that you brandished, used or otherwise own a gun, then I doubt you will be charged.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/11/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    You can if you keep talking. You should not have spoken to the police, but fortunately you didn't say much. Don't make it worse by talking more. Remember, when the police have a target they will twist your words around to suit their case. Exercise your right to remain silent from this point forward, and this strom will pass.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    You could potentially still be charged, but without more evidence, it is unlikely the State would proceed as they need to be able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, which would be difficult without more evidence.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/11/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    Yes, you could be charged but it is not likely without additional information that they could prove it.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 10/28/2011
    Law Office of Joseph Schodowski
    Law Office of Joseph Schodowski | Joseph Schodowski
    Of course you can be charged with a crime if you didn't do it. It happens everyday. Charging of a crime only requires a showing of "probable cause" that you committed the crime. This is not a very high threshold to overcome for the State or the City. In your case, your neighbor's testimony may be enough to file charges. However, if charges are filed, you don't own a gun, and the State or City only has the testimony of your neighbors, then you have a good chance of being found not guilty.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/11/2011
    Laguzzi Law, P.C.
    Laguzzi Law, P.C. | Carina Laguzzi
    Of course you can. But the fact you werent arrested on the spot by police may be a good sign. If you do get arrested, do NOT make any statements to police and hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 10/11/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    Innocent people are charged with crimes all of the time
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/28/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    If the police believe the neighbors, then the answer is yes. You may want to get an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/11/2011
    Todd Landgren, Professional Law Corp.
    Todd Landgren, Professional Law Corp. | Todd Landgren
    You can always be charged with a crime if the prosecutor thinks they have a case. Just because you "didn't do it" doesn't mean you won't be charged. Serious charge, be careful about who you talk to!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    People get falsely accused and wrongfully charged all the time. Yes, you're presumed innocent until they can prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but in reality, you have to actively defend yourself. With no real proof of a firearm being involved except your neighbor's say so, they may never file charges against you. It may be worth it to do some research, find a good local criminal defense attorney that routinely practices in the court where your case will be heard and sit down to discuss the situation. It may turn out that you never face charges and never will need an attorney in court with you, but better to be prepared if and when charges are filed. You could face anything from a misdemeanor brandishing charge up to a felony assault with a deadly weapon and criminal threats.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    Yes. A criminal case may be supported by circumstantial evidence alone. Of course, such a case would be weak and less likely to be charged. Police could return with a warrant to locate guns on the premises.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/11/2011
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