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Facing Domestic Violence Charges During COVID-19
The ongoing coronavirus crisis has created a considerable shift in our daily lives. People all over the country have been instructed to remain in their homes for months to slow the spread of COVID-19, and seemingly as a result of these new health and safety measures, there has been an unexpected surge in cases involving domestic violence or intimate partner abuse. The National Domestic Violence Hotline warns that the coronavirus pandemic can have a unique impact on domestic violence situations, and in some states, law enforcement officials have reported an increase in domestic violence calls and allegations. For individuals in abusive relationships, being forced to stay at home with their abuser puts them at risk for more frequent and possibly more severe abuse. Unfortunately, a push to report any concerns of abuse during COVID-19 means innocent individuals may also be at risk for false accusations of domestic violence. If you have been accused of domestic violence or you are facing criminal charges for abuse against a family or household member, you are not alone. An experienced criminal defense attorney can ensure that you understand the consequences of the allegations against you and help you develop a solid defense to fight the charges.
- Increase in Domestic Violence Arrests During Coronavirus
- Domestic Violence Tied to COVID-19
- Consequences of Domestic Violence Charges
- Having a Restraining Order Issued Against You During COVID-19
- Defending Against Domestic Violence Charges
- How a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Can Help
- Contact Our Skilled Domestic Violence Lawyers Today
Increase in Domestic Violence Arrests During Coronavirus
In response to what appears to be a surge in domestic violence incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic, law enforcement officials across the country are increasing efforts to crack down on domestic violence in their respective jurisdictions. If the police show up at your home on a domestic violence call and your spouse or family member accuses you of abuse, you could end up being arrested, even without a warrant. You could even be arrested for domestic violence if there is no witness and the alleged victim has no visible injuries. The laws prohibiting acts of domestic violence tend to be extremely protective of victims, and if an alleged victim accuses you of abuse, it will be your word against theirs. Domestic violence laws differ from state to state, but the stigma associated with allegations of domestic violence is the same across the board. An arrest for domestic violence could destroy your personal and professional relationships and ruin your reputation and your standing in the community, even if you did nothing wrong.
Domestic Violence Tied to COVID-19
The specific criminal offenses that qualify as domestic violence vary depending on the state, but the general definition of domestic violence is: violence or abuse that occurs in a domestic setting, such as a marriage or cohabitation. What sets acts of domestic violence apart from other crimes involving violence or abuse is the relationship between the accused and the alleged victim. If a person is accused of assaulting a stranger, that person could face criminal charges for assault. However, if that person is accused of assaulting a current or former spouse, a parent, a sibling, someone they used to date or someone they live with, the same offense can be charged as domestic violence.
It is common for disputes to arise in a marriage, a family or a household. People who share the same space and spend a great deal of time together are bound to have their differences, and on occasion, disputes between spouses, family members or cohabitants may get out of hand. This kind of thing is even more likely to occur during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with state-mandated measures in place that require people to stay in their homes and avoid going out to reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you are involved in a dispute with a member of your family or someone you live with during COVID-19 and the police get involved, you could end up being arrested and charged with domestic violence.
Consequences of Domestic Violence Charges
A domestic violence conviction carries severe consequences, possibly including jail time, fines and other long-lasting penalties that depend on the laws of the state in which you are tried. But even before you are charged with a crime, before you get your day in court, you can find yourself facing severe restrictions simply by being accused of domestic violence. If your spouse or someone else with whom you have a close relationship claims that you committed an act of domestic violence against them, they can ask the court for a domestic violence restraining order against you. A domestic violence restraining order is a civil order and depending on the specific situation, it may require you to:
- Refrain from committing any further acts of abuse against the alleged victim (the petitioner),
- Avoid contacting or communicating with the petitioner,
- Move out of your home if you live with the petitioner,
- Complete a batterer’s intervention program or other counseling program,
- Pay temporary support to the petitioner, and/or
- Observe all child custody and/or visitation conditions included in the order.
Having a Restraining Order Issued Against You During COVID-19
Domestic violence restraining orders exist to protect real victims of domestic violence from continued abuse. Unfortunately, there have been occasions where restraining orders have been obtained on the basis of false or exaggerated allegations of abuse designed to get back at a spouse or former partner or to have that person removed from the accuser’s home. Initial domestic violence restraining orders are considered “temporary,” but they typically remain in effect until a hearing when a judge will determine whether a “final” restraining order should be granted. During COVID-19, when courts are experiencing significant backlogs and delays, that could take much longer than usual. And until you can get a hearing, being forced to comply with the terms of an unsubstantiated domestic violence restraining order can significantly disrupt your life, possibly forcing you to stay away from your children and your home for weeks or even months. Unfortunately, violating the terms of a domestic violence restraining order by contacting the alleged victim or going to your home, even if you are simply trying to explain yourself or clear up a misunderstanding, can result in criminal charges.
Defending Against Domestic Violence Charges
The coronavirus pandemic has changed virtually every aspect of our lives, from the way we work to the way we buy our groceries, even the way we communicate with our friends and family members has changed. One thing that hasn’t changed during COVID-19 though, is the right of criminal defendants to retain a defense attorney. Anyone accused of committing a crime deserves a fair defense and that includes cases involving alleged acts of domestic violence. Our criminal defense attorneys specialize in domestic violence cases and we aggressively represent individuals who have been charged with assault, battery and other violent crimes against members of their family or household. If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, the best way to clear your name is to reach out to a criminal defense lawyer who can represent your case and bring the truth to light.
How a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Can Help
Considering how swiftly arrests are made for domestic violence incidents and how aggressively these types of cases are prosecuted, it might not be easy to protect your rights and freedom on your own. Some state laws impose mandatory jail stays immediately after an arrest for domestic violence and many domestic violence arrests result in a restraining order, which may force you out of your shared home, regardless of who owns it. And once your case is handed over to a prosecutor, the decision to proceed to trial or dismiss the case is up to the prosecutor. Even if the person who accused you of domestic violence changes his or her mind and wants to have the charges “dropped,” the prosecutor still has the authority move forward with the case. Things tend to move rather quickly in a domestic violence case, which is why we recommend consulting a defense lawyer as soon as you are arrested, even if you have yet to be formally charged. The moment you retain our domestic violence lawyers, we will get to work gathering evidence, investigating the charges against you and analyzing the circumstances of your arrest so we can build the strongest possible case on your behalf.
Contact Our Skilled Domestic Violence Lawyers Today
False accusations of domestic violence are not uncommon under normal circumstances, but the risk of being unjustly accused of abuse against a spouse or family or household member is even greater during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, when tensions and stress levels are at their highest. Facing criminal charges for domestic violence can be frightening and confusing, especially if you know you did nothing wrong. Unfortunately, when it comes to allegations of domestic violence, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and the general public rarely believe the accused over the alleged victim. Fortunately for you, our criminal defense attorneys have what it takes to stand up to the prosecution and help you fight the charges levied against you. We know that having a domestic violence conviction on your record can follow you for the rest of your life and we will do everything in our power to prevent that from happening.