What to do if I am getting charged with falsifying information to authorities?

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What to do if I am getting charged with falsifying information to authorities?

My now ex-husband was in an accident and had been drinking. He came home and made me call the accident in and stated that if I didn’t tell them I was the one driving. Knowing that he was serious about doing so, I called 911 and told them I was driving. After giving my statement to the cop, I told him that my ex was the one driving but I needed to tell him the other version first because my ex threatened me. The cop stated that I could be charged with lying but he would make sure to make a note in the record so that I wouldn’t get in trouble. Following all this I did kick my then husband out of the house and have divorced him. I have no record, not even traffic ticket.

Asked on February 11, 2013 under Criminal Law, South Dakota

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You are not being charged with a major offense that would result in major jail time-- especially considering that you have no prior record.  So you can relax from that perspective.  However, any criminal conviction can impact other areas of your life.  For example, an employer could do a background check and see a conviction and decide not to hire you because of it.

With that in mind, it would be best if you could get a criminal defense attorney to help you communicate to the prosecutor what you have previously communicated, namely that you are really victim #2 in this incident, not a defendant.  Many criminal defense attorneys now accept payment plans and credit cards.  It may cost you a bit up front, but hiring someone to help keep this off your record will be worth the funds in the long run.  What you want to aim for is either a complete dismissal or some type of conditional dismissal.  Many jurisdictions now offer diversion programs for first time offenders where they complete certain activities (like counseling or community service) and in exchange the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the charges. 

If your case is set for a hearing while you are looking for an attorney, make sure that you appear, update the court on the status of your search, and request a reset to finish hiring an attorney.  If you do not appear, then the court can issue a warrant for your arrest.  If it gets to the point where you simply cannot find an attorney, request the court to appoint one for you.


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