There's not much you can do when the righteous fist of the law comes down on you. Call it a mix-up, or call it a mistake, if someone's pegged you at the scene of a crime there's not much you can do but trust the justice system to prove you innocent. However, that's a gamble, and just because you've been given a "not guilty" doesn't mean the effects won't follow you for the rest of your life.
Reddit user, u/danbrownskin, wanted to hear about the times when it wasn't you, seriously, it was someone else, when they asked:
Redditors who were once considered suspect of a crime they did not commit, what's it like being held under suspicion and how did it affect your life?
It Feels Like Your Life Is Taken From You
I was prosecuted in 2014 having been charged with conspiracy to commit criminal damage over a 2 year period, to a value of about £200k. I was on bail for 9 months during which I couldn't speak to 8 of my best mates, I had to find time to attend court without it affecting my work, and I had to fork over £5k in legal aid contributions.
My home was raided, I was arrested, I suffered from anxiety and it put me and my family under an awful lot of stress. I knew I wasn't guilty and it felt like my life was on hold for ages.
After two weeks of trial, the prosecution offered no evidence and I was, therefore, found not guilty. It felt like the world was lifted from my shoulders.
Hard To Getaway With A Baby
My ex was accused of robbing a house, and I was accused of being the get away driver. The cops came to my house, and questioned me. My ex had been out of town working, and you'd think that would've been an airtight alibi, but it wasn't. They figured where he was he could have robbed the house, and been where he was to start work. He came home early to deal with this despite my protesting. They arrested him visiting his terminally ill mom.
I had our baby with me, and they told me to follow them to the station where they would have cps waiting to take custody of our baby. I ran to my mom's house. They tried to arrest me as a get away driver, but I had an absolute airtight alibi, and they had to let me go. They kept him for the charges of home invasion.
Our relationship suffered after that. Said I cast too much suspicion when I ran with the baby, and it looked like I was stashing the stolen property. He lost his job because of it. They printed it in the local paper that he was arrested for the crime. After further investigation we were implicated by the actual robbers. They knew I was a stay at home mom, and didn't figure I'd have an alibi, and they didn't know that he had been working out if time. They gave the police our name, and the plates off my car.
The police never printed a retraction saying he wasn't the robber. There wasn't a retraction saying that I was no longer a suspect. Our names were ran through the mud. It completely ruined our relationship because he said I hung him out to dry. I had to move away and start over because people wouldn't hire me.
Trust A Better Friend Next Time
Not me, but a friend of mine was arrested on charges of downloading child pornography. The whole thing took two years to come to court.. which was instantly dismissed due to him being able to prove he was on vacation and had left a friend housesitting during the time of the downloads. Those two years destroyed his life though... local paper released his arrest details, he lost his job, his house was attacked by a mob (he had to pick up and leave in the middle of the night with nothing....he's never been back so he lost the house he owned and all of his possessions)... he ended up living in a tent in a field. It's been probably 5 years since he was totally acquitted and he's just now got his life back to normal.
Sometimes It's Too Late To Fix The Problem
I was falsely accused of domestic violence. Every horror story and legend about this you've heard is actually not bad enough to capture what actually happens to you as a male when this occurs.
She was kept anonymous, but my identity was public. My family shunned me, my friends abandoned me, lost my job, my car, my house, the legal bills ruined me. She suffered no consequences either.
Not only was I found Not Guilty, but I also received a "Finding of Innocence" which basically means, "This could not have happened, there is no way the accused did this."
Didn't matter though, the damage was done. In the end, I found out who really cares about the truth, and me. That liar died an early, painful death of cancer though.
It Wasn't Me, It Was The Other Me!
I almost went to jail and had my identity frozen because some guy had the same first name and last name as me, born on the same day, same month, SAME YEAR.
This guy was on parole and I think had a warrant out for him too. The only thing that saved me was that we lived in different counties, which happen to be right next to each other. The DMV had to contact the hall of records and compare our social security numbers to make sure that I wasn't the one on parole.
I dealt with it for several years, multiple police logs about my mistaken identity, multiple times being put in the back of a squad car because they thought I was him. I hope he got his sh-t together.
Sir, Are You Also 'John Smith'?
Ah, it's been fun. I was once brought to the Military Comissariat (that's the place in Russia where all the stuff about the military forces in the region is done). That was some time ago, I wasn't 18 yet and I had to bring my father too. They told me that there was a guy in Crimea who tried to purchase a place in FBI. He called somebody that he was making a deal with using a phone that he borrowed from a man on the street.
When he got caught, he told the authorities the name of phone's owner... which matches with my name completely (consider that the patronymic (father's name) is a part of a name too in Russia).
I asked all of their questions, told them I never was in Crimea, they copied some stuff from my phone's AC and I left. They never bothered me again. It was the oddest experience I had in my life.
Just Call Me "BomberMan"
When I was in 8th grade someone set off a homemade explosive near my house. They made a huge deal about it even though it was equivalent to a big firework.
Someone at my school submitted an anonymous tip that said "110_percent_THC knows how to make bombs." I had a detective put the screws on me at school soon after. They tried really hard to get me to admit to something I didn't do. I don't know if it mattered, but they interrogated me at school without my parents knowledge and before they were ever made aware I was a potential suspect. The detective told me "You're the mastermind of this complex and I'm going to prove it." He then showed up at my house after school that day and interviewed my parents. I told my parents in front of him that he straight up accused me of doing it and quoted his little line. He denied it which was such a sh*t thing to do.
It didn't really affect my life long term. It sucked when it happened and then I forgot about it.
The Unfortunate Problem Of Being The Last Person To See Her
When I was in high school one of my friends disappeared. We had a normal day at school, afterwards she asked me to drive her a couple of places for yearbook ad sales. I did and dropped her off back at school. She never made it home. That night I got a call from her mother asking if I knew where she was. I didn't. I rallied some friends, we made some flyers and hit all the obvious spots--airport, bus station and even called the local hospitals.
A couple of days later some detectives showed up at school and questioned me. Like someone else noted in this thread, I was not read my rights nor were my parents asked to be with me while I was questioned. Since I was the last person known to have seen her I was the prime suspect. I told them for hours I had no clue where she was.
Several days later I retraced our stops. At one place, the cops showed up and questioned me again. I was just looking for my friend.
My parents got involved at this point and the detectives backed off a little bit. But I ended up getting followed and I even got a ticket for something dumb, like going over a double yellow line, just so the cops could search my car. It was classic harassment and to this day I don't have a high regard for cops.
A few months later, my phone would ring at odd hours in the middle of the night. I would answer but whomever was on the other end of the phone wouldn't say a peep. Finally one night the call came, and she said hello. She told me what happened and where she was. I couldn't believe it, I thought she was dead. She had sh-tty reasons for running away but I respected why she did it. I didn't know what to do.
I went into school the next day and asked a trusted teacher what I should do. He told me I had to tell the authorities so I could give her family some peace and also to raise the cloud of suspicion I was under. So I did, I betrayed her confidence and called her family and the cops. Her family retrieved her from where she fled to and put her in private school. I tried calling her a few times but she refused to take my call. I wrote her off.
Some years later I Googled her and found out she was a bigwig at an Ivy League institution. I ended up sending her and email and she called me. She graduated HS, went to a great school and began her career. We chatted a couple of times but not once did she apologize. She did tell me life was bad for her after her family got her back.
She was sort of resentful that I told on her I think. We never did connect in person. While I think she has some resentment. I am happy she turned out ok. Yeah, it was a few months of hell and I didn't deserve it. I just simply moved on. I Google her every now and then, she's sort of a local celebrity where she lives, she involved with the arts so her name is published quite frequently.
Cops can really make your life hell if they want to.
A Cousin By Any Other Name
Not me, but my cousin.
He lives near San Francisco, and he was coming out of a movie one night when some cops stopped him. Apparently, someone stole one of those rented bikes, and a witness have a description that matched my cousin.
They didn't take him in, but they did grill him about where the bike was, got the witness to come and say it was him, and stuck him in the back of their car for a while. They told him he was a good liar but a dumb thief because all the bikes have GPS tracking.
Spoiler alert, he didn't steal the bike, and they found it with someone else who matched the description. They showed the witness, who confirmed it was the other guy, and they let my cousin go.
Neither the cops nor the witness apologized about the whole thing, but from what I gather, that's par for the course. My cousin was shaken up about it, but nothing else happened.
Dead Giveaway Was The Braces
This is a mild one.
When I was 16, my parents got a notice of a warrant out for my arrest. This 4'11" teenage girl with braces. Cue our confusion.
We contact the police and find out that some woman from a vintage store I frequented had accused me of a hit and run in their parking lot. The police officer handling the case was awful. Never contacted me. Looked at my car and saw no damage, but since the woman could pick my photo out of a line up (I went to this store all the time, of course she would recognize me) the cop decided that I did the crime and that I needed to be arrested.
My parents had to hire a lawyer and we went to court. We were able to get the case dropped, unless more evidence were to come up.
None ever did.
It was scary, and my parents were pissed at me for months (even though I didn't do anything).
Cheating The System
Worked as a cashier while in college at a well known big box wholesaler. The system has clerks and assistants with a pretty big pay difference. I worked the crappy shifts and got more "clerk time" so higher pay and quicker raises because others wanted to go home early all the time.
I was accused of cheating to get raises. Several times they looked at the time cards and all they saw was the I worked late crappy shifts and always covered for people that wanted to go party.
Money ended up missing from a register that I was on while covering for a break. Everyone on the register was put on the "watch" list.
I never once stole from them, but co-workers were really pissed. They took time off to party while I worked crappy shifts and saved. They bought new cars while I drove an old clunker and saved money. I had money while they were broke and they didn't like that.
I was setup several times and this was a union shop, after quite a while, the union finally stepped in and realized what was going on.
They never found any evidence of anything. Managers and co-workers made a different set of rules to harass me, even thou I was the guy picking up the crappy late nite shifts and working when others just wanted to party.
Not the first time these kinds of things happen. Seems people just don't like to see others that don't fit in with what they are or do. Seen it many times, people can be really sh-tty.
Unfortunate Car Damage
I was driving my buddies car that matched the description to a T of another car that has just hit a girl on a skateboard. This happened in a small town, so the whole town was looking for the car. I had a police officer damn near leap or in front of me as I was pulling away from a stop sign and berated me left and right.
They brought some witnesses over and said the car I was driving was the car. I understand that because the car that hit the girl had a smashed up front right corner and the side mirror got ripped off when the car hit the girl. The car I was driving had a smashed right front and no side mirror. They were ready to haul me in until another cop came over and noticed the car I was driving was covered in dust, whereas the car that hit the girl wasn't dusty per witnesses.
A few phone calls to my buddies house from the police verifying that I had just come from there saved me and they reluctantly let me go. They found the real culprit a few hours later.
It didn't really affect me much because nothing came of it, but it was terrifying at the time. It almost felt like a movie, like it's this really happening, am I seriously going to jail for something I didn't do?
These Are Your Formative Years
Some friends and I were surrounded by rifle wielding cops while walking home from taco bell one day when I was 14 or 15. The arrested us, and took us to the station. They kept asking us to confess, that they know what we did, and that they had witnesses.
To this day I have no idea what they suspected us of. They let us go that night. I don't trust cops.
Just Another Good Story
My husband was a murder/missing person suspect for a day or two, as he and his friend gave the guy a ride home and were the last to see him. I'm sure at first it was stressful since they didn't know what happened to the man, but once his body was found, he was cleared of suspicion right away (it was obvious the guy died naturally outside in the winter.)
He told me the story over one of our first dates, and I went wild looking online to make sure I could corroborate the story and I wasn't getting involved in something fishy.
Now it's just a sad/slightly ironic story (since he's the nicest, most trustworthy guy you could hope to meet) that he'll bring up when drinking occasionally.
Confusing, mostly, since I wasn't being told what I was accused of.
I was in the army on a foreign post, when I was ordered to CID. I had to sign something acknowledging that I was being accused of a crime, but then I just sat around for hours waiting for someone to talk to me, wondering wtf this was all about.
Finally, someone showed up to interrogate me about the crime, which was a laptop stolen from a barracks room. Since I and 2 other soldiers had performed an inventory of the barracks furniture (and thus had access to every room for a day), we were the (only, I assume) suspects. Fortunately for me, the victim of the crime was a very good friend of mine, so I was able to tell the investigator that the laptop was stolen (and reported to CID) well before we went through the barracks.
He left the room to make a phone call, came back, and said we were free to go. Took less than 5 minutes.
What Happens When You're Younger Affects You Later On
I was 11 and was accused of busting the neighbors window. It sucked because I was friends with their son. The cops came and questioned me a bunch and I was nervous because I was being accused of something I'd never even consider doing. It didn't help that the cop was a dick. He was basically telling me I did it. It all turned out fine. I didn't get charged or have to buy a new window.
It just made me no longer be friends with the neighbor, and I lost a lot of respect for cops.
Now, On A Slightly Lighter Note
I was a suspect of tripping one of my friends on the playground back in 3rd grade. The school bully was the one who did it, but they knew to get out of sight fast and I was the first one blamed because I was walking next to the victim. I guess the significant impact on my life is that me and the accuser stopped being friends after that because I got detention.
A Young Life Torn Apart
I was once accused of setting my room on fire by the police. I wasn't home at the time and a 16 year old teenager who just lost my father to a heart attack 75 days before hand. My aunt had moved in several months before and had been having her birthday party.
I had asked to go to a friend's house after being there for a little while. While playing computer games at my friend's house I got a phone call that my room was on fire so I rushed on my bike back to see the fire department finishing up and the police investigating. The police told me they didn't believe that it was an accident, so they asked me to come to the station to answer some questions so we could figure out who did it. Being naive I agreed of course I will. We will definitely find out who did it, ask me anything.
I was not read my rights at all including that as a minor I have the right to a guardian present. It started out as a friendly sort of interview and I had no idea they suspected me, but it became clear that they did when they started yelling at me and accusing me.
They believed I set my room on fire because I wanted to hurt my family to which I responded if I wanted to hurt them why wouldn't I set a fire on the stairs so they couldn't escape? Their reply was that it was a cry for help and it was not too late for me. I responded that why would I set a fire in my room it has all my things in it... why wouldn't I set a fire somewhere else in the house.
I asked them for any evidence or proof because they were just blaming the teenager for something that happened when he wasn't even home. When I asked the fire investigator what he thought he said he thought I did it too, and the reason the fire started when I wasn't home was because I had been making bombs. I was shocked in disbelief.
The police then kept yelling at me to sign a confession and that everything would go easier for me once I signed it. I told them I've seen plenty of movies and the police always try to strong-arm confessions to the innocent just so they can get a conviction. It was almost humorous when they said this isn't a movie kid, except I had been crying my eyes out by this point.
After several hours of making a little boy cry without him cracking they'd let me go. I was a very good and boring kid who completely trusted authority figures before then... now I realize that anyone can be a liar, idiot, or a--hole. I never smoked, didn't have a drink until I was 21, worked full time, and for fun rode my bike and played with my pets. (Also I loved my pets... why would I endanger them?)
The fallout from this was that my aunt and uncle treated me like a monster until I moved out. It was only years later until after my aunt and uncle divorced that my aunt told me that my former Uncle knew that his friend had started the fire by doing drugs in my room while I wasn't home. The friend already had a record and would have gone away for a long long time so my uncle told him to get out of there and told the police he thought I started it to protect his friend. while I hate my aunt for many reasons it did sort of show why she never treated me nicely.
That friend later fell asleep while smoking or doing drugs, which started a fire. His stepson died, his daughter was crippled, cats and dogs dead, and he himself is bedridden in a care home unable to speak. If he hadnt been such a wimpy loser who could take responsibility for his actions he would be out of prison and able to walk, and those children would be alive.
My life was changed, and not for the better. Im fine now, but this event made some struggles come back to bite me as a younger man. The only good adult out of all the friends and family and cops there was my old tae kwon do instructor. He fought the fire with extinguishers and saved my two cats hiding in my room. When I got there on my bike he was outside holding them both. He was a great man.
Ever had a crime pinned on you? Let us know below!