How to Fight False Allegations of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a real and serious threat, which is why there are systems in place to protect victims of abuse from their abusers. Unfortunately, the way the system is set up, it opens the door to false allegations having a powerful impact on an innocent person’s life, too.
A false allegation of domestic violence can lead to various legal complications. And if a person is convicted, it could impact them regarding housing, employment, and seeing their children.
If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, do not assume that you can plead “not guilty” and everything will work out. It is essential to understand how domestic violence accusations are handled, as a false allegation could lead to a conviction.
The Low Threshold of Evidence Required in Albuquerque Domestic Violence Cases
Most defendants do not realize the far-reaching consequences of false domestic violence allegations – nor those who make the false allegations. As a defendant, you must be ready to fight against the accusation, and you must realize that the odds are not stacked in your favor.
Domestic violence is taken very seriously by the courts, and they will react out of caution rather than risk an abuser getting back on the street. While this is meant to protect those who are legitimate victims, defendants falsely accused will find their lives turned upside down.
All it takes is an alleged victim claiming they feel threatened for a temporary protection order to be issued. Once a temporary restraining order is issued, the defendant will be barred from approaching the victim.
Temporary restraining orders are issued ex parte, which means you do not have the right to be there and you will not even know about the restraining order until you receive it. Even if you have no history of violence or a criminal record, judges are still inclined to grant a restraining order to avoid risks.
Furthermore, the threshold of evidence is low. An allegation made to law enforcement automatically results in an arrest. Law enforcement might hear your side of the story, but they will detain you. Once the restraining order is issued, you may be removed from your home and unable to see your children for months until a formal hearing takes place.
What Happens When You Are Falsely Accused
False accusations hold up in court. And even if the alleged victim lies in court, the chances of conviction are high. If you do not hire an attorney or assume the system will work it out, you could face consequences that include:
- Losing custody of your children. The courts presume that if domestic violence has occurred, the abuser is not awarded any physical custody or placement. To see their children, they are often required to do supervised visitation.
- Losing your right to mediation if you divorce. If you are married and your spouse decides to file for divorce, you will lose the power to mediate.
- No contact with the victim or face criminal violation. Part of the restraining order will prohibit you from contacting the victim in any manner, including letters, in person, phone, text, email, or sending a message through a third party. If you were to contact them, you would violate a restraining order – which results in jail time.
- Losing your rights to your home. The alleged abuser is typically removed from the house and excluded from the residence even if it is jointly owned. Law enforcement will accompany the defendant into the home to collect personal belongings.
- Losing your civil liberties. If you are convicted of domestic abuse, you will lose your right to own or possess a firearm.
- Anger management and rehabilitation. In addition to jail time, you may be court-ordered to attend rehabilitation or anger management courses – all of which are paid out of your pocket.
- Losing your job and housing options. Those convicted of domestic violence may lose their job because they are incarcerated. It may also be hard to get a new job with a criminal conviction. Even if you are charged with a misdemeanor, some jobs will exclude you from the applicant list if your misdemeanor is for domestic violence. Some landlords may also prohibit you from their tenant options if you have a criminal record.
Protecting Yourself from False Allegations of Domestic Abuse
In cases like this, you are essentially guilty until proven innocent. With the help of an attorney, there are steps you can take to prove your innocence and either have the charges dismissed or prove your case in a formal hearing.
Some steps you can take to protect yourself include:
- Hire a defense attorney immediately: Do not try to represent yourself, because the odds are stacked against you in a domestic violence case. You need an attorney that has experience handling domestic violence allegations.
- Know the law: Every state has their own rules for how they handle domestic violence accusations, and it is a good idea to have your attorney explain to you how your jurisdiction defines domestic violence.
- Prepare your evidence: Anything you have that can prove the allegations are false can help. This might include texts, emails, video or audio, or other evidence that shows your side. Also, evidence proving your character can help show you are unlikely to commit violence.
- Showing motivation to make false allegations: You can show proof that the victim had a reason to lie – such as needing an advantage for a custody dispute or filing for divorce.
- Witnesses: Typically, if there are false accusations of abuse, there will not be witnesses to the alleged act. But if there are people nearby when the alleged action occurs, you can enlist them to testify about what they saw and whether they perceived it as violence.
If you have been falsely accused of domestic abuse, the first call you should make is to a criminal defense attorney. Speak with an attorney today from New Mexico Criminal Law Offices. We can meet with you for a free consultation.
Call 505-375-4671 to get started or send us a message online.