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What to do if You Have Been Wrongfully Accused of Domestic Violence
Anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows that it is not always easy getting along with another person, even if that person is someone you care about. Disagreements happen, tempers sometimes flare up, and things can easily get out of hand. These types of incidents tend to occur even more frequently during times of crisis, like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, when fear, anger and uncertainty are at an all-time high. If you find yourself in this type of situation and allegations of violence or abuse are thrown around, you could end up facing criminal charges for domestic violence, even if you didn’t do anything wrong.
Truth be told, false accusations of domestic violence happen more often than you might think, and allegations of this kind are serious. They can tear apart families, destroy careers, and ruin lives, which is all the more devastating for those who have been falsely accused. That is why we always recommend hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney when faced with claims of domestic violence, even if you know you did nothing wrong. An attorney with experience defending clients against domestic violence charges can review your case and develop a strong defense based on your specific situation.
Domestic Violence During COVID-19
It has been nearly a year since the coronavirus outbreak effectively shut down the United States and millions of Americans were suddenly confined to their homes, subject to strict stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders. During that time, couples and families found themselves locked down with considerable restrictions on their personal movement, and concerns about domestic violence peaked nationwide. In addition to the mandatory quarantine orders implemented in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, schools across the country were closed, businesses were forced to suspend operations, and many workers were laid off. It is not hard to believe that these unprecedented circumstances could have intensified disputes within dating relationships, domestic partnerships, marriages and families, possibly leading to allegations of domestic violence.
Because many states have mandatory arrest laws that apply to domestic violence incidents, if the police show up at your door on a domestic abuse call, it is likely that an arrest will be made. Unfortunately, that means you could end up being arrested for domestic violence because of a simple misunderstanding between you and your partner or because your partner is trying to get back at you for something. In most cases, it doesn’t even matter if the alleged victim decides not to press charges. The decision to bring charges or drop charges for domestic violence is typically in the hands of the state prosecutor, who may wish to see you pay the price for your alleged crime. Once you have been arrested for domestic violence, avoiding criminal charges can be a difficult task, one that could potentially result in jail time, a restraining order, probation, and other devastating penalties if you are found guilty of the crime.
Examples of Domestic Violence
Most people immediately think of physical abuse when they hear the term domestic violence, but there are several different kinds of abusive behavior that fall under the umbrella of domestic violence. In addition to physical abuse, domestic violence can also involve emotional abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, or financial abuse. This can include actions or behavior that you may never have imagined could amount to domestic abuse and warrant a criminal charge, including the following:
- Monitoring the other person’s phone calls
- Coming home unexpectedly to check on them
- Making offensive or insulting statements about their sexual preferences or behavior
- Withholding sex in an attempt to control the other person
- Isolating them from friends, family members or the religious community
- Yelling at the other person or calling them names meant to embarrass or denigrate them
- Controlling the household income and limiting the other person’s access to money
- Putting the other person on an allowance
- Spending money meant for household necessities on nonessential items, such as alcohol or drugs
Allegations of abuse have become more widespread during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, which has elevated stress levels in U.S. households, created insurmountable economic challenges, and forced millions of Americans to live in close quarters while waiting for the deadly pandemic to come to an end. If you get involved in a dispute with your spouse, domestic partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, or family member during COVID-19, and your actions or behavior fall into the category of physical, emotional, verbal, psychological, sexual or financial abuse, you could find yourself facing charges for domestic violence. If you have been the victim of domestic violence during COVID-19, protect yourself against further attacks by getting help right away.
Finding the Right Domestic Violence Lawyer
Legitimate victims of domestic violence deserve support, protection, and justice for the harm they have suffered at the hands of their intimate partner or family member. Unfortunately, there are some people who see using false claims of domestic violence as a means of getting revenge against a current or former partner, or gaining leverage over an ex in divorce or child custody proceedings.
When it comes to defending yourself against false accusations of abuse, it is imperative that you find a domestic violence lawyer who has a clear understanding of the laws in your state and an innate ability to craft a compelling defense in your case, especially if the allegations against you are false. You may think that being innocent of the crime is enough to protect you against false accusations of domestic violence. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system simply does not work that way. People tend to side with the alleged victim in domestic violence cases and all too often, innocent people are sentenced to jail for a crime they did not commit.
With this in mind, it is important to do your research when looking for a domestic violence lawyer. The most expensive lawyer isn’t necessarily going to be the best one for your case, but you don’t want to pick the cheapest lawyer either. Choosing a few potential candidates and scheduling a free initial consultation with each is a good first step. Your lawyer will be your most valuable asset and your strongest advocate in court, so be sure to do your due diligence at this stage of your case.
Defenses Against Claims of Domestic Violence
Once you have found the best possible legal representation, you can then sit down with your lawyer and start planning your defense. It is your lawyer’s legal responsibility to provide you with competent and capable representation. That means openly communicating with you, advising you in all matters related to your case, walking you through each possible defense strategy, and ensuring that you understand the charges against you and the options available to you for fighting those charges. A good criminal defense lawyer may even be able to intervene early on and prevent charges from being filed in the first place, which would save you a great deal of trouble and limit your exposure to criminal penalties. If you are charged with a domestic violence crime, there are a number of possible defenses against such allegations, which you can use to assert your innocence.
One example of a defense that can be used in a domestic violence case is unintentional injury. In this situation, you may acknowledge that you were present at the time the other person’s injuries occurred, but that the injuries were the result of an accident. For instance, if you were repairing a piece of broken furniture in your home and the hammer slipped and struck your spouse, you can claim that you did not commit an intentional act of domestic violence.
Another possible defense against domestic violence charges is self-defense. If your partner was attacking you and you were required to use physical force to defend yourself against the attack, you may be able to claim self-defense.
Or, if your partner’s story was completely fabricated and you had nothing to do with the injuries he or she allegedly sustained in what was portrayed as a domestic violence incident, you can assert that you have been falsely accused of domestic violence. It is possible that the injuries were self-inflicted or that the alleged victim suffered abuse at the hands of someone else entirely.
Why You Need an Experienced Domestic Violence Lawyer
Domestic violence is a very serious matter, and the consequences of a domestic violence conviction can change the course of your entire life. Any time you find yourself facing accusations of domestic violence, whether the accusations are based on truth or not, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced domestic violence lawyer to represent you. Prosecutors tend to be aggressive in their pursuit of justice in domestic violence cases and that can mean stiff penalties for offenders. Keep in mind that every domestic violence case is different, which is why hiring a seasoned domestic violence lawyer when facing false accusations of intimate partner abuse is so important. You need a knowledgeable and reputable legal advocate on your side who can challenge the prosecution’s case and craft the strongest possible defense against the domestic violence claims.