The increased awareness of rape and sexual assault are impacting the way our justice system treats these tragic issues in Nebraska and elsewhere. Courts take these claims more seriously than in times past, but this also means that those who make false claims of sexual assault may see serious legal consequences.

Facing a false accusation of sexual assault can be nerve-wracking. But you do have the right to a fair trial, and you do have the right to defend yourself and protect your name.

Sexual assault in Nebraska

Most states make legal distinctions between rape and sexual assault; Nebraska law does not. The same laws govern all cases of rape and sexual assault and grade them in the first, second or third degree depending on the severity of the contact, any resulting injuries and the age of the victim.

To get a conviction of sexual assault, your accuser will need to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt to the court that you contacted them sexually without their consent, or that you as an adult contacted him or her while underage. Many defenses seek to prove that the contact was consensual or that it did not happen at all.

False allegations in Nebraska

People make false accusations for many reasons. Whether the impetus is mental illness, revenge, emotional or financial gain or something else, it is against the law to knowingly provide false information to authorities, and doing so can result in criminal charges for the accuser.

Nebraska law prohibits the provision of false information with the intent to create a police investigation or to garner emergency medical attention. Doing so is a Class I misdemeanor.

The person making false accusations could be facing much more serious charges, including a potential felony, if he or she commits perjury, tampers with evidence, interferes with a witness or otherwise impedes a trial.

You do have a right to defend yourself and your name. In some cases, you may even have recourse to bring a civil suit for defamation and seek retraction and damages.