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Reasons for false criminal accusations

When false criminal accusations are made, people often have one simple question in their wake: Why? Why would someone make up a crime that never happened and try to pin it on someone else?

All cases are different, but investigators have found five main reasons:

1. The person has a mental illness or disorder. This can be as simple as clinical depression, but it could be something even more serious.

2. The person is trying to get sympathy and attention from others.

3. The person needs an alibi for something else that took place. Perhaps he or she committed a crime and then made up another crime, as the victim, to explain where he or she was at the time.

4. The person wants to profit financially in some way.

5. The person is trying to get revenge on someone else. This could be a former lover who ended a relationship, for example, or a boss who fired the employee.

A good example of this is a case in which a woman was allegedly abducted, sexually assaulted, and physically harmed with a knife. Police became suspicious when she stopped answering their questions, but an investigation had already been started, and she'd even helped detectives create a sketch of the person who abducted her. In the end, it turned out that she had made the whole thing up. She was dealing with depression and anxiety disorders.

That example is even rather tame because no one was arrested, but you can imagine how traumatic it would be to find yourself under arrest for a crime that you not only didn't commit, but that never happened at all. If this occurs, you absolutely need to be aware of your personal rights and defense options.

Source: FBI, "False Allegations of Adult Crimes," James McNamara and Jennifer Lawrence, accessed Dec. 30, 2016

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