Whether you are guilty or innocent, courts view domestic violence as one of the most serious allegations against a criminal defendant. Charges and claims of domestic violence can affect your life and future for many years to come.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by a significant other, equating to more than 10 million women and men who suffer domestic violence each year in the United States.
Unfortunately, some people are insensitive to those who endure this abuse and will fabricate stories in order to retaliate against the alleged offender. These are serious allegations, that are not only hurtful to the wrongfully accused, but also the true victims of domestic violence.
Accusations of domestic violence can ruin lives, shatter families and wreck careers. When a person is falsely accused of a domestic violence crime they didn’t commit, the devastation is magnified.
In most states, the laws surrounding domestic violence are in favor of the victim. And for actual occurrences, rightly so. But in instances where the alleged victim claims violence or abuse that didn’t happen, it’s a much more challenging process to prove the allegations are based on false or trivial accusations.
Navigating the muddy waters of domestic violence and processing wrongful allegations can be difficult, but the accused needs to quickly take action to combat the charges and seek justice. Proving innocence is a difficult undertaking but the earlier you start your legal defense, the better your chances are to succeed.
The worst mistake is thinking that because you didn’t actually commit the crime that you don’t need the help of a defense lawyer. You may know you are innocent, but the judge does not.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence includes physical, psychological, emotional and sexual abuse to a spouse, partner, child or any other household or family member. It affects people of all backgrounds regardless of their race, age, marital status, religion, gender or economic status.
Common tools of abuse include arousing fear, threats and intimidation and using physical harm and force. Domestic violence is not just defined as physical abuse and can also include strict rules for behavior, restrictions on access to basic necessities, emotional abuse and isolation from friends, family and community.
Charges for domestic violence include any assault, battery, stalking, harassment or any criminal offense resulting in injury or death. While the official definition of domestic violence varies among each state, overall it defines any action that causes or attempts to cause harm toward a person the attacker has an intimate relationship with.
Finding Help for Victims of Domestic Violence
If you are a victim of domestic violence it is normal to feel scared and vulnerable. Remember, you are not alone. Many agencies and non-profit organizations exist to aid victims in finding protection and safety such as;
- Victim Center
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Child Advocacy Center
- H.I.T. No More
- National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233
Victims have the right to be free from all forms of abuse and the ability to file a case in court to stop abuse from a partner. Abuse is a crime that the abuser can be punished for. There are many different legal paths a victim can take to find safety.
Domestic violence cases are common and it’s comforting for the victim to know they can get help if a situation turns violent. But, the flip side of the system breaks down a bit when it comes to the rights of the falsely accused abusers.
Taking Action Against False Accusations
Domestic violence cases are extremely hard to prove the innocence of the accused. A big reason for this is because no physical attack ever needs to have taken place. Threats and emotional abuse are taken just as seriously in the eyes of the court.
Even if accusations of domestic violence are false, enough evidence could convict a person of nearly any crime. This makes working closely with a lawyer vital to the outcome of your case.
Your attorney will seek answers to questions regarding any statements of the defendant, finding any witnesses or evidence, determining whether or not the victim sought out medical treatment or if the incident was exaggerated. All of these are pieces to the puzzle to prove what actually happened and obtain a successful outcome.
People who are charged with domestic violence typically defend themselves by showing the prosecution has not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt of every element or they offer a defense that absolves them of their actions. An attorney will be able to evaluate the strength of the evidence against you and evaluate any defenses you have to determine which path is right for your case.
Helping Improve Your Case
Beyond getting legal help, you can also work to improve your case. One of the most important things you can do is keeping the peace. Any mention of instigating a fight, violating orders of peace or engaging in any outbursts with the false victim looks bad.
Cooperation with the judge by following any orders to remain away from the person and maintain a peaceful demeanor will go a long way in the eyes of the judge.
You can also reach out to your community, use character witnesses and maintain employment in order to further refute the charges on a personal level. These simple acts can help your lawyer prove your innocence in the allegations.
Penalties of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence cases are often referred to as “wobblers” meaning they can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanors include up to one year of jail time and a maximum fine of $1,000, whereas with a felony there is no limit to possible jail time and a fine of up to $10,000.
In both instances, the case will be on your permeant record and is likely to make it hard to find a job and reestablish your reputation, making it all the more necessary to hire a lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney can separate a weak case from a strong one by looking for evidence that discredits the allegations.
Though penalties vary depending on the specific charge and state, any violence between household members is considered domestic violence. Under this classification, there are minimum penalties and additional statutes that determine how the case is handled.
Some common penalties of domestic violence charges include serving jail time, a minimum of one-year probation, revoking your Second Amendment right to carry a concealed weapon, serving community service hours and not being able to expunge or seal a criminal record. For each of these penalties, certain criteria must be met, which is what makes having an attorney so important so that you can navigate the complexities of the legal system.
How False Allegations Affect Custody Battles
In messy custody battles, accusations of domestic violence can fly like bullets. Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting has found that false accusations occur in 25% of all divorces.
Many people use this as a way to get the upper hand in a custody battle and manipulate the case. A case won by the accuser can ruin the reputation of the accused, keep them from seeing their children and result in a criminal record.
If you are a victim of this, allow a skilled criminal defense attorney to prove your innocence. When children are involved it gets a lot more complicated and if a restraining order and allegations of domestic violence are not properly dismissed or withdrawn, it can give a lot of power to the victim in a custody hearing.
To avoid a situation that your partner could skew and manipulate to look like an instance of domestic violence, always have another individual present while speaking with your partner, report any threats of false allegations to the authorities and avoid direct conflicts.
We Can Help you Fight False Allegations
If you believe you’ve been wrongfully accused of domestic abuse, the most important thing to do is seek legal representation as soon as possible. The problem will not solve itself if you simply wait and trying to reason with your accuser will only make matter worse. Leave it to the professionals and call Wampler and Passanise to get started on your defense.