Life goes on?

Please Note: Posts in the ‘My Story’ page always have the newest post on the top. If you would like to read the story from the beginning – start with “An Introduction”. Thanks for reading! ~IWFA

What do you do the day after you are accused of a horrible and unthinkable crime that you didn’t commit?  Where do you start?  Are there things you should be doing?  There is no handbook for this type of scenario.  But the thoughts about all the “what if’s” begin in your head.  How do you go on “if” you lose the career you had worked on for your entire life?  What if you lose your home…your savings…your friends…?  What is the penalty for this kind of crime?  Worst case scenarios start immediately.

The first thing I could think of was to try to figure out what yesterday really meant.  Is it a good thing that I was not arrested – just questioned and let go?  Did the detective actually know I was telling the truth like I thought he did?  Should I tell my friends what happened?  How do you figure all of this out?

Fortunately – my mother has a close friend who is an attorney, and a local level prosecutor.  While he never handles cases of this magnitude, he was an amazing source of information on how things like this work.  What he told us, though, was the start of my total disbelief in our justice system!  He told us, of course, that when an allegation like this is brought to the police, they have to fully investigate it.  That makes perfect sense to me.  I hope they would investigate something this serious…but what made no sense is that they owe the ‘accused’ no more explanation than that.  We learned that the techniques they use in their ‘interrogation’ are designed only to get a confession – NOT to determine the truth.  The detectives don’t even have to give factual information to you in an interrogation in order to get a confession.  They can tell you that there were accusations made that actually were not.  They can phrase questions in a way to lead you to believe things that are not true.  They can promise you things about “deals” and “everything will be ok” if you just confess.  They can outright lie about the reason you are being questioned…all are legally acceptable ‘interrogation techniques’.

After the interrogation, the police don’t ever have to follow-up with you again.  The advice we were given is that if we heard nothing more about this for the next 90 days it is safe to assume they have dropped the investigation.  But – there are no rules either – they can sit on the accusations for a year if they want before they decide to act.  If they decide they are dropping the case – they don’t tell the ‘accused’…so you spend your entire life wondering.  So – our friend’s advice was to just go on with life as if this never happened…because you may never hear anything about it again.  Easier said than done!

From this day forward, I feel like nothing will ever be the same.  Are phone calls being listened to?  Are emails being read?  Quick trips to the store for milk are no longer an easy thing to do.  You look at everyone in the store…do they know?  You scan cars in the parking lot looking for an unmarked police car…are they watching me?  Leaving your house to check the mail raises so many new questions…  Who was in that car that just drove by?  Did I see a neighbor watching me from their window?  And forget about going out to eat…  A knock on the door makes your heart skip a beat every time…is this the knock before they arrest me?

But as the days and weeks go by – it actually becomes easier.  I return to work quickly – and it seems like nothing has changed at all.  No one seems to know.  Day to day activities become easier again as well.  I feel like I am not watching over my shoulder all the time anymore.  Christmas and New Years come and go.  Activities with friends and family happen as they always have.  My life actually feels like everything is back to normal now!  This has to be a good thing…right?

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