About 11 percent of Americans have fallen victim to a false accusation involving domestic violence, child abuse, or sexual assault. Couple this with the fact that courts issue 1.5 million trivial or false restraining orders.
It’s easy to see that there are a lot of people who are falsely accused of domestic violence. If you fall under this category, you need to figure out what to do after the initial stomach dropping shock of the situation.
You may find that participating in your defense is like a trial by fire education of the law. You may even be inspired to go to law school when the experience is over.
1. Talk to Your Family and Trusted Friends
Be prepared for people to react negatively. You may find that some of your family and friends distance themselves upon learning of the accusations.
The best thing you can do is let the people you care about know so they can decide for themselves what they’ll do.
Keeping your family and friends informed of your accuser’s erratic behavior can help your situation. You also want them to be informed of the situation just in case your accuser contacts them.
2. Find the Accuser’s Motive
What is the reason for your accuser making false accusations against you? Knowing your accuser’s motive can go a long way to building your defense.
Sometimes the accuser enjoys the attention and sympathy they receive. This could also be a mental issue on their part.
If the accuser is mad at you for some reason, the accusations may be an attempt at revenge. If he believes that you have wronged him, it may be his way of getting back at you.
Are you currently in the middle of legal issues with the accuser? They could be trying to gain the upper hand.
This is seen when a divorcing couple cannot agree on child custody. The accuser believes that the court will rule in their favor if domestic violence occurred in the home.
3. Hire an Attorney Immediately
Don’t try to represent yourself. Being falsely accused of domestic violence can have far-reaching consequences.
You want an aggressive attorney who can present a strong case to the prosecution. This way, they drop the charges before the case even makes it to court.
If you represent yourself, they may try to convince you to accept a plea deal. But these are the types of charges you don’t want to plea out. If you do, you’ll always have a domestic violence charge on your criminal record.
4. Address the Legal Standard
When you hire an effective lawyer, one of the first things they will do is address the legal standard against the filed complaint. Often, the complaint filed will fail to meet the state’s standard.
When this insufficiency is proven, the case gets dismissed. There is no need to move further to the evidentiary hearing.
A common example of this is when a complaint is filed based on evidence of hearsay or unreliable evidence. Neither of these is enough to support the continuation of the case.
Complaints filed about the abuse that happened long ago are also not sufficient. The abuse, harm, or fear needs to be current.
5. Gather Evidence
If your accuser has convinced the court that their complaint is viable and worth moving forward with, then you need to be proactive about gathering evidence to the contrary.
One of the best ways to expose inconsistent facts is to prove that you have an alibi for the time in question of when the events occurred. If you can show you were somewhere else or on the phone or bring a store receipt, you can then show that your accuser is fabricating the altercation.
Another thing to do is find any independent witnesses who can testify to seeing the alleged evidence of abuse before the claimed date. For instance, your accuser claims the bruising on their arm is from you on Monday. But you have a witness who can testify that they saw the bruising on Sunday.
By showing these mistakes in facts, you prove that your accuser is not stating the truth. This breaks down their credibility.
If someone is fabricating a story, it will be very difficult for them to maintain the exact facts of their story every time. This becomes apparent when their story changes from one document to another.
Compare every affidavit against every police report and any other record. This could include reports from child protective services or any medical records you have access to.
By pointing out these inconsistencies, you show that one particular version of events cannot be trusted as fact.
This can be tricky, but you may be able to show that your accuser is not acting in the way that a typical abuse victim will act. How much time did the accuser let go by between the claimed abuse and filing a complaint?
Did the accuser attempt or successfully establish friendly contact with the accused abuser? Did he let you have unsupervised parenting time with the children after the accused abuse?
Finally, look into who the accuser contacted after the claimed abuse. Did he seek medical treatment?
Motivation to Fabricate
Do you have proof of motivation to lie? If you decide to go this route, you need something in writing such as a letter, email, or text.
The accuser needs to state in that writing that if they don’t get their way, they will claim abuse has occurred. These types of situations typically happen when two parties are already in a legal battle and one party is looking to gain the upper hand.
Often someone who is falsely accusing abuse will not want to give specifics. It will be a rambling stream of conscious with generalized accusations of abuse.
This is unacceptable. Challenge generalized accusations because you cannot meet the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence. You also cannot defend yourself properly if you do not have specific accusations to defend.
6. Protect Yourself from False Allegations
Now that you know some vital steps that you need to take to defend yourself, there are a few things you can do to prevent the false allegations in the first place. This article outlines the penalties and consequences of domestic violence charges. It’s best to just avoid the charges instead of having to fight them and clear your name.
One a basic level, do your best to avoid conflict. Carefully consider your actions before you do them. Something as small as blocking a doorway can be considered threatening.
When you know that a relationship is deteriorating, don’t let yourself be alone with a hostile party. That way, there is a third party who can testify to the events in question. This prevents a “he said she said” situation.
Were You Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence?
Being falsely accused of domestic violence can be overwhelming. You’ll want to take these claims seriously and immediately start your defense of the claims.
The best thing you can do is be proactive about the alleged claims. Work with your attorney to try and get the claims dismissed before going through the trial process.
If you do have to go through a trial, follow our strategies here to show that your accuser is making false accusations.
Check out these skills that judges must have to be successful in this role.