If you are falsely accused of domestic violence, it could affect every aspect of your life. The consequences of false allegations can become a detriment to your life. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the cause and effect of false claims and know how to protect yourself from such lies and accusations.
An Overview of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is considered a serious crime with severe consequences. During a domestic violence case, the court may entirely rely on the word of mouth of the alleged victim without requiring any additional evidence. A jury does not require physical evidence such as bruises on the victim as proof of violence. Therefore, if your partner files a false accusation against you, it may be challenging to prove your innocence. The law always tends to favor victims of domestic violence, especially if the victim is a woman as women are considered the physically weaker sex, thus more prone to abuse.
Many women’s campaigns portray women as the key victims of domestic violence. In the past few decades, there has been an increase in awareness of domestic violence towards women. Of the laws that prohibit domestic violence, most focus on violence against women specifically. A good example is The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Compared to women, men’s groups are less vocal. Abuse of men by women is often under-reported. If a man claims to be abused by a woman, the law is likely to be less sympathetic towards him. Very few social organizations offer refuge to men facing domestic violence. It is easy for women to fabricate domestic violence and convince the court. However, with the help of a domestic violence attorney, there is hope for people facing false allegations of abuse.
Domestic violence laws vary from state to state. However, one factor remains constant; in all jurisdictions, domestic violence is a serious offense. If your partner reports you to the authorities and accuses you of abuse, the consequences may be grave even if your accuser later recants.
In a domestic violence case, the statements the alleged victim makes to the police are used to determine the charges brought against the accused. The victim may later change their report or abandon the case altogether in a process known as recanting. Recanting may happen at any stage of the case. However, it is usually too late if the accuser recants after already ruining the reputation of a defendant.
Domestic violence has an extensive definition. Any unlawful and intentional infliction of physical harm, assault, or injuries is considered to be domestic abuse. Inflicting fear of physical harm is also a form of domestic abuse. Given the broad scope of domestic violence, it is easy for people to manipulate it and make false allegations of violence.
Causes of False Accusations of Domestic Violence
A research conducted by Family Needs Fathers, a shared parenting charity, reveals that thousands of parents claim domestic violence to stop partners from seeing their children and accessing legal aid. False accusations of domestic violence are prevalent, and the situations surrounding them can be complicated. The leading causes of false domestic violence allegations include:
A false accusation of domestic violence may be a form of revenge. If the accuser feels wronged by the other partner, they may claim to be abused to seek vengeance. For instance, if the accuser believes that the accused had extramarital affairs, a false accusation may be the best revenge.
To Gain Advantage in Legal Proceedings
A person may play a victim of domestic violence to gain a favorable outcome in an ongoing legal process. For instance, if a couple has a child custody legal battle, the result of the case is likely to favor the accuser if the court is convinced that domestic violence took place. Your accuser may also pretend to be a victim of abuse to get a friendly ruling in a divorce case and access a good share of marital property.
To Remove the Accused from the Family Home
To remove a partner from the family home, an accuser may claim to be a victim of domestic violence. In a case of domestic abuse, the defendant is often excluded from the family home and has no access to properties therein. Even if the residence is jointly owned, the defendant is required to forfeit everything and vacate the house. Under the supervision of the law enforcement officer, the defendant may pick some personal belongings from the residence and leave the rest behind.
If your partner suffers from mental instability such as depression, they may make a false claim of domestic violence against you.
The accuser may pretend to be a victim of domestic violence to enjoy the sympathy and the attention that comes with it.
Effects of False Allegations
After being accused of domestic violence, your life will never be the same again. It will change the way society perceives you and also limit your freedom and self-development. The adverse effects of false allegations of domestic violence include:
- Being accused of domestic violence instantly ruins your reputation. The general society has a negative view of any person charged with domestic violence against a child, a spouse, or any other person. Once your reputation is ruined, it will be hard to regain respect and confidence even after proving your innocence. The society will also consider you an abuser and behold you with contempt.
- Domestic violence could make you lose your job and ruin your chances of ever getting another job. No employer would be comfortable to have a domestic abuser in their team of workers. If you are a threat to your family, you will also be a threat in the workplace.
- Accusations of domestic violence may also ruin your relationships with friends and family. For instance, in cases where a child is present, you may never see your child again once you are charged with violence. The situation may grant full custody to the accuser, denying you the chance of being part of your child’s life.
- A domestic violence charge comes with hefty penalties. Allegations of domestic abuse have both criminal and civil penalties, depending on the nature of the case. Civil consequences may include restraining orders. In California, for instance, you may face misdemeanor domestic violence charges under penal code 243 (e) (1) even if the alleged victim has no physical signs of violence. You may also serve a jail term for false allegations of domestic violence.
- If your accuser succeeds in filing domestic abuse charges against you, you are prohibited from owning a gun. The alleged victim may seek a restraining order against you, and this will lead to the withdrawal of your license to own a firearm.
- In cases of domestic abuse, there is little room for mediation or negotiating for the reversal of the verdict made in court. It is assumed that if violence has taken place; family law disputes mediation is not necessary.
- A false accusation of domestic violence against you may subject you to lengthy anger management and treatment programs. You may also be required to take part in a chemical dependency treatment and other therapies, yet you are innocent.
Considering the detrimental effects of domestic violence charges, you cannot afford to ignore false accusations of violence. To get domestic violence charges dismissed, you can seek the guidance of a domestic violence attorney. It would be detrimental to face penalties for a crime you did not commit.
Can You Predict False Accusations of Domestic Violence?
It is possible to predict a false accusation of domestic violence. For instance, if your relationship is unstable, the chances of your partner getting back at you are high. If your partner portrays constant signs of emotional instability, you should be alert at all times. Emotionally unstable people may act in odd ways to seek attention and sympathy.
Protecting Yourself from False Accusations of Domestic Violence
If you suspect that your partner is likely to file a false claim of domestic violence, prepare to protect yourself. You will need to prove your accuser wrong and make it clear before the court that you are innocent. By following the steps below, it will save you mental anguish and trouble from having to deal with a potential criminal case.
1. Inform a Domestic Violence Attorney
Confide in a domestic violence attorney and express all your fears and suspicions. You do not have to hire an attorney immediately. You can even book a free consultation to help you understand your options. If your partner accuses you in the future, the attorney consulted earlier will be aware of your case and ready to argue for your innocence.
2. Notify Close Family Members and Friends
After facing accusations of domestic violence, your family and friends may desert you. If the accuser claims that you harmed them or that you inflicted harm on your children, the people closest to you may exclude you from their lives. It would be wise to inform close family and friends of your partner’s volatile behaviors in advance, to prevent such a scenario. Inform them of your fears regarding what the other part is likely to do. By preparing your family on the possible outcome of your strained domestic relationship, you will have them more inclined to side with you in case you face false allegations.
3. Change and Keep All Your Login Information Confidential
Immediately you suspect foul play from your accuser, ensure that you change login credentials such as computer passwords, cell phone passwords, hard drives, bank accounts, and any other device that may require passwords. It is common for an accuser to send false messages from the defendant’s cell phone and then use the messages as false evidence in court. For instance, your accuser may send threatening messages from your cell phone and then claim that you are threatening to harm them. Secure every channel of communication to avoid being a victim of false evidence.
4. Keep Your Valuables Safe
Keep valuables such as driver’s license, vehicle titles, birth certificates, and other crucial valuables away from your partner. If your accuser steals such documents from you and then successfully files false domestic violence accusations against you, you may spend a lifetime trying to get your belongings back. A simple mistake, such as failing to keep your documents safe could cause you too much pain.
5. Collect and Preserve Evidence
At times, the person accused of inflicting domestic abuse is the victim. Your partner could be the abuser and yet successfully file false accusations of domestic violence against you. To prevent this from happening, gather as much information as possible while avoiding inherent harm. If the abuse gets out of hand, you may consider informing the local abuse services. Even if your partner tries to accuse you of violence in the future, there will be enough evidence to prove that they are the offender.
6. Avoid Conflict
A practical method of defending yourself from false accusations of domestic violence is by avoiding conflict with your partner. For example, if you have a planned divorce, avoid any dispute that may be manipulated to appear as a threat. Do not try to force your partner to talk it out and clear the disagreements. The subjective nature of domestic violence evidence may make what seems like an innocent act, a punishable one by law.
7. Have Witnesses
If you have some planned events with your partner such as divorce or custody hearings and you suspect that violence may result, it is wise to have some witnesses. If a conflict does occur, the witness will observe all the occurrences, including any injuries suffered. If your partner tries to make false allegations against you, the witness will come to your defense.
How to Conduct Yourself after a False Accusation of Domestic Violence
After facing a false accusation of domestic violence, you should adopt the right strategies to secure your freedom. Do not allow yourself to be aggravated and lose control. Avoid any temptation to confront your partner. Instead, take the following steps:
a) Seek Representation by an Attorney
You should contact an attorney immediately after you learn about the false violence charges against you. An attorney will help to prove that you are a victim of revenge from your spouse. It would be best if you furnished the attorney with all the needed information to enable them to identify the motive of the accuser to file a false accusation. You should not withhold any information from the attorney, including the dark side of your marital relationship.
Accusations of domestic violence can have detrimental consequences. If you are convicted, you would have to bear the weight of a criminal record throughout your life, something that may hinder you from leading a normal life. Having an attorney who has handled domestic cases before may help you maneuver your way out of the false allegations.
b) Honor Protective/Restraining Orders Against You
Before you learn about the false accusation of domestic violence, your spouse may have already sought a restraining order against you. A restraining order would require you to stay away from your spouse and children. It is always advisable to honor and abide by the restraining order. Breaching a restraining order may make your legal consequences worse. If your spouse attempts to lure you into meeting with them, do not give in. Instead, document the advances as you could use them as evidence in court.
c) Uphold your Defense
You should never accept liability if you are innocent. Ensure that you defend your stand to the end. If you pointed out that you are innocent from the start, stand by that until the case is over. Do not keep changing your story as you narrate the events that took place. Allow your attorney to guide you on the best way to defend yourself in court.
d) Remain Calm
After facing a false accusation of violence, you may lose control or have an outburst of anger. It is advisable to remain focused and composed throughout the court process. Portraying anger may make it hard to convince the jury that you are innocent.
e) Focus on Proving Your Innocence
No matter how intricate your case may turn out to be, remember the fact that you are innocent and the accuser is the one who is in the wrong. Your role is to hire and work alongside an attorney as they fight for your integrity.
Defending yourself in Court
To be able to free yourself of the alleged domestic violence charges, you will need an aggressive defense in court. Your accuser will make false statements about you in court, but with the help of an attorney, you can challenge these statements. Some strategies that you and your attorney may adopt include:
(i) Identify Inconsistent Documented Evidence
When making false accusations against you, your partner will provide many statements to prove you guilty. With so many explanations, it is possible for inconsistencies to occur. Your attorney can carefully compare such statements against the police reports and identify any contradictions. The consistencies can be used to prove your innocence.
(ii) Identify Inconsistency in the Accuser’s Behavior
After a false accusation of domestic violence, your domestic violence attorney may help you examine the behavior of the accuser and identify any inconsistency with the expected behavior of a victim of abuse. The attorney will review the time that passed from the time the alleged violence took place to the time the accuser filed a claim. Did the accuser contact the police, or family, and friends after the alleged abuse? The attorney may also determine if the accuser may have initiated any contact with the accused after the violent incident. If it is evident that your accuser acted in a manner that is inconsistent with the expected behavior of a victim of violence, the jury may waive the alleged violence charges.
(iii) Report Accusers Motive to Feign Violence
If you happen to have any evidence that the alleged victim had a motive to fabricate a case of domestic violence, you should avail it to your attorney for presentation in court. Evidence may include emails, recorded phone conversations, or letters from the victim in which the said victim threatens of faking violence to win a custody battle or a divorce case.
(iv) Object to General Allegations of the Accuser
When accusing you of domestic violence, the accuser should present in court the specific dates and times when the abuse took place. If the accuser offers generalized allegations that do not give particular timelines, your attorney will challenge such claims as vague.
Protect Your Rights
False allegations of domestic violence can be a common occurrence, especially if you are in a turbulent relationship. That is why it is essential for you to know how to protect yourself if accusations come your way. Do not let someone take advantage of your life by reporting false allegations but be proactive in protecting yourself from these claims.