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Long-term effects of mistaken identity

The Internet and social media are a mainstay for not just virtually hanging out with friends and family, but also more and more businesses are using it as a vetting process for job candidates. Unfortunately, for one Knoxville man, the cost of being falsely accused of a crime may follow him into what should be a bright future. The 25-year-old college senior will be graduating in December with a degree in engineering. His greatest fear, however, is that a case of mistaken identity and 15 hours in jail will cast doubt on any future employers’ interests in him; and he’s probably right.

In October this year, during a Halloween party in Chattanooga, a husband and wife were assaulted by an unknown attacker. The husband’s eye-socket was fractured and the wife was inappropriately groped. When fellow party-goers were questioned about the attacks, they were asked if they could identify the man who attacked the couple. The witnesses provided the name of who they thought was the attacker and police issued an arrest warrant for him.

The accused, along with his mother, made the trek from Knoxville to Chattanooga, confident that they would be able to clear his name; since he hadn’t been to Chattanooga for five years. Instead, he was held at the Hamilton County jail for the next 15 hours. Eventually, he was able to prove he wasn’t at the party and his accusers admitted their error.

A cursory search on Google and Firefox continues to connect the young man with phrases like, sex offender, assault, battery and many other descriptors. The damage has been done. Despite assurances from the sheriff’s department that they will do whatever they can to repair the damage, the accused and his family can’t help but think it’s too little too late.

Sadly, what happened to this young man isn’t an isolated case and many who have been falsely accused continue to fight to clear their name; sometimes from a prison cell. If you or a loved one has been falsely accused of a crime, it is important to contact a qualified attorney to help protect their rights and clear their name.

Source: WRCBtv.com, “ONLY ON 3: Facebook used to arrest wrong man in sexual battery case,” Kelly McCarthy, Nov. 25, 2015

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