When Can You Sue for False Allegations of a Crime?: A Complete Guide

Last Updated on September 1, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team

Many people fear being accused of a crime that they didn’t commit. There are all sorts of high profile cases where people have been falsely accused of a crime that they didn’t commit, and this has left their reputation in tatters. 

Even though the law states “innocent until proven guilty”, allegations can really change the way that people look at an individual.

When Can You Sue for False Allegations of a Crime

So, if you are somebody who has been falsely accused of something, it is likely that you might be looking for some sort of retribution. For most people, this retribution comes in the form of a civil suit. 

In this complete guide, we’ll take a look at when you can sue for false allegations of a crime. So if you want to find out more, keep on reading!

First Things First

Before we take a look at when you can sue for false allegations of a crime, there is one very important thing that you need to know.

This is that you should not file a civil suit of any kind until the allegations against you have been addressed in court. Civil suits regarding false allegations should not be brought until the original criminal suit has been resolved in court

The criminal charges came first, so it is beneficial for these to be resolved before you bring a civil case to court.

The events in the criminal case will play a big part in how your lawyer will address the civil suit. The outcome of the criminal case will also have a huge impact on how successful your civil suit will be. 

So, if you know that the allegations against you are false, you should get a good criminal lawyer to defend you in court.

Only once this case has been resolved should you seek a good civil lawyer to bring your civil suit to court. The two court cases should never run simultaneously.

The criminal case should always come first. 

When Can I Sue For False Allegations of a Crime?

It is difficult to say exactly when you can sue for false allegations of a crime.

There are a couple of different lawsuits that you can bring if you have been falsely accused of a crime and penalized for a crime that you did not commit.

We will take a look at all these in a little more detail shortly, but it is important to recognize that the amount of time will differ depending on which civil suit you choose. 

But as we have said, in general terms the “when” in the question “when can I sue for false allegations of a crime?” is after that criminal case has been resolved in court.

Criminal cases are lengthy, and they often take a long time to be resolved. It takes a long time for the case to even make it to court, and when it does, the case itself can go on for a lengthy period.  

Until that case has been resolved, you will be unable to bring a civil suit. This means that you could be waiting anywhere between a matter of days and a matter of years to file your civil suit.

This is the part which people who are falsely accused usually find the most difficult. However, it is necessary to go through this in order to get to a point where you can file a civil suit.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the lawsuits you should consider.

False Imprisonment Lawsuit

There are a number of people that you can target with a civil suit once you have been accused of a crime that you did not commit, this includes the law itself.

When you are accused of a crime, you will be arrested. Even if you are let out on bail or remand, you will usually be kept in jail for a certain period of time.

If the crime that you are accused of is a violent one, then you will often be kept in jail until the criminal case goes to court. 

In order to explore this route, you will need a favorable result in the criminal case.

By this, we mean that the criminal case will have to go your way, and you will have to be found not guilty of the charges.

Once you have this result, you can go after the people who gave testimony against you in the legal case. 

While a false imprisonment lawsuit goes after the law itself, there are a number of people who are immune to this type of lawsuit. This includes the district attorney, the assistant district attorney, and other public officials involved in the case. 

However, there are still a lot of people who you can target with a false imprisonment lawsuit. This includes expert witnesses who gave negligent testimony against you in court, and it could also include private prosecuting attorneys too. 

As we said earlier, the “when” upon which you can file a false imprisonment civil lawsuit will depend on a number of factors. You won’t be able to file until after the case has been resolved in court, with you being found not guilty.

Once this has happened, you can set the wheels in motion for your civil suit, however it will usually take a couple of months to find a good civil lawyer and compile the evidence needed to take the case to court. 

Defamation of Character Lawsuit

One of the most common lawsuits brought by those who have been falsely accused of a crime is a defamation of character lawsuit.

Over the years there have been many high profile defamation of character lawsuits brought by celebrities against other celebrities, and this is a big part of why people are so familiar with this style of lawsuit. 

A defamation lawsuit can be brought if your life has been greatly affected by the false charges that were brought against you.

So, for example, if you have lost work, lost friends, or fallen out with family over false charges, then you will probably be able to file a defamation of character lawsuit

Alongside defamation of character lawsuits, most falsely accused people will also sue for slander/libel.

This is essentially a sub-division of a defamation of character lawsuit, and it allows you to sue for specific, targeted statements that have been proven false.

Libel lawsuits will be brought when the statement was delivered in written form, while slander lawsuits will be brought when the defamatory statement was delivered orally. 

At the heart of slander/libel civil suits is proving that the individual who delivered the statement, the individual who you are suing, did so knowing that the statement was false.

There has to be malice behind the statement, and the understanding that by saying/writing these things, the individual would harm your reputation and have a negative impact on this and your life.

This style of civil suit allows you to sue for defamation for a monetary value. This monetary value will be known as “compensation”, and it will be a reflection of the damage that that person has brought to your life because of their false allegations. 

This compensation can cover a number of different things including mental anguish, embarrassment and humiliation (see also ‘What Exactly Is Public Humiliation?‘) (see also ‘What Exactly Is Public Humiliation?‘). It could also cover a loss of salary if the allegations caused you to lose your job. So, a defamation suit will cover both monetary and emotional losses. 

Again, you will be unable to file a defamation of character lawsuit until the criminal charges against you have been resolved.

Even then, most people wait a little while before filing their civil suit. When it comes to civil suits, it is important to get it right the first time. So, do your research, find a good civil lawyer, and get your ducks in a row before you sue for defamation of character. 

When Can You Sue for False Allegations of a Crime

False Allegations Lawsuit

All the civil lawsuits that we have looked at so far have been reliant on you being found not guilty when the criminal case is resolved in court.

However, we know that not everybody who is falsely accused will be found not guilty. Miscarriages of justice are not uncommon, and there are lots of people who have spent years in jails for crimes that they did not commit.

If you know that you are innocent, this is likely something that you will never stop fighting for.

Luckily, there are lawsuits out there which are suitable for those who have been found guilty of the crimes that they were falsely accused of. These civil suits are less common and they usually take a lot longer, but they are worth it. 

With a false allegations lawsuit, justice will come in two parts. For this lawsuit, you will need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side.

The first part of this type of lawsuit will be proving your innocence in court. This might include looking for loopholes in the evidence or appealing for a retrial due to new evidence.

This alone can take a long time, and that is without taking into account the time that it will take for the criminal case to actually be completed. 

Once the criminal charge has been dismissed, part two begins. In this part, the criminal lawyer who defended you in the criminal case will help you fight back against the charges with a civil case. This civil case will sue for damages due to the false allegations.

So, essentially, when you file a false allegations lawsuit, you could be committing to 2 separate lawsuits. 

With a false allegations lawsuit, you can get started as soon as the criminal case has been completed. The quicker you appeal the charges, the better, so it is best to get stuck in soon after you are found guilty.

As you will be in jail, your lawyer will handle a lot of the work in this type of lawsuit. But most lawyers who offer this style of lawsuit are incredibly experienced, and have good track records of getting charges dropped and compensation for those who have been falsely accused. 

Explore Criminal Charges

Finally, when it comes to false allegations, there is a chance that the person who accused you could have criminal charges brought against them.

Now-a-days, the damage that false accusations can do is really being recognized, and the number of people facing criminal charges for false accusations is on the rise. Especially for people who have falsely accused others of sexual or violent crimes. 

Criminal charges may be brought against an individual who has knowingly accused somebody of a crime that that person did not exist.

They could also be brought against somebody who falsely accused somebody of a crime that they did not commit with the intention of harming that person. It is also becoming more common for law enforcement to start filing criminal charges for false reports.

So, if you have been falsely accused and can prove this, then criminal charges may be filed against your accuser. 


In short, you cannot sue for false allegations of a crime until after the criminal lawsuit has been completed.

With some civil lawsuits, you will only be able to file them for false allegations if you have been found not guilty of the crime in a court of law. We have covered this and more in the guide above. 

Thank you for reading!