What Is Economic Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is often associated with physical altercations between spouses, but domestic violence is much more than that. Economic domestic violence, also known as financial abuse, is a common type of domestic abuse seen in the US.
Most often, it is accompanied by physical violence and it is a way for one person to control another. A person does not have to strike another to commit domestic violence either. Controlling finances to prevent a spouse from leaving, along with emotional abuse, is still illegal.
Rarely is a spouse arrested for domestic financial abuse. Instead, they are typically arrested when this abuse is combined with other forms. Regardless, it is essential to understand how financial abuse works and what situations can make it illegal for both victims and alleged offenders.
How Albuquerque Laws Define Financial Abuse
Financial domestic abuse is when a defendant attempts or makes a person financially dependent on them as a way to maintain control over all financial resources. The spouse in control might withhold funds so that the other person cannot purchase anything without them knowing about it.
Financial abuse is a form of domestic abuse. One spouse might withhold money or even steal money from the other spouse, and they may restrict their access to all finances. For example, the spouse in control might force the other to sign over their paychecks or have the paychecks deposited to a bank account in the abuser’s name only. The victim might have no access to accounts, cash, or even credit cards.
They may also have no access to physical resources, such as food, water, clothes, or medications. Instead, they only have access to these items when the abuser allows it.
Financial abuse can take other forms as well, such as a spouse that forces the victim to work as the primary source of income for the house but gives them no access to the funds.
Typical Examples of Financial Domestic Abuse
- Verbal or physical abuse based on one spouse’s spending habits. One spouse might become verbally or physically abusive when one spouse spends money, even on essentials like groceries or medical care. Eventually, the victim might fear retribution if they spend any money, giving the alleged abuser full control of what can and cannot be purchased.
- Putting all bills into the victim’s name. While maintaining control of the assets, the abuser might put all bills into the victim’s name. By doing so, they have control over them, because the victim has no access to funds unless the abuser allows it. To punish the victim, the abuser might not pay the bills, destroying the victim’s credit score. This ultimately makes them even more dependent on their abuser for access to financial services.
- Forcing the victim to be the breadwinner. Some abusers might force one spouse to support the entire household, even forcing them to work multiple jobs. The paychecks, however, deposit into a bank account in the abuser’s name only.
- Making excuses as to why the victim cannot access the funds. Abusers will make the victim feel as though they are at fault for not being allowed to use their money. The abuser might tell them that they are irresponsible with their money and cannot be trusted, making them think that they cannot handle finances so they have to give full control to the other spouse.
- Holding the victim’s credit cards, driver’s license, debit card, and passport. To ensure control, an abuser might lock away the victim’s credit cards, driver’s licenses, and even debit cards so that they have no access to money and no way to escape.
- Forcing the victim to co-sign loans. By forcing the victim to co-sign loans and credit cards, the abuser ties themselves to the victim further, making it harder for them to leave.
False Accusations of Domestic Violence – Defending Yourself
While financial abuse and physical domestic violence occur more than they should in the US, so do instances of false accusations. A spouse might falsely accuse another of financial and emotional abuse to gain leeway in child custody negotiations, get more alimony, or simply out of spite.
These false accusations are harmful to not only the person being falsely accused, but for genuine victims of domestic violence.
When a person is falsely accused of domestic violence, including emotional and financial control, their entire life can be turned upside down. If you are the alleged abuser being falsely accused, you may find yourself under arrest despite your pleas of innocence. You may have a restraining order placed against you; you might be unable to enter your home (even if you still pay for it) and also be unable to see your children.
If you are falsely accused, do not assume that the system will protect you. Instead, the courts place heavy emphasis on the victim’s accusations. Therefore, someone’s word could be used to convict you.
To protect yourself, you need to hire a criminal defense attorney with experience handling domestic abuse allegations.
If you are convicted, these allegations could permanently change your life by requiring you to:
- Serve time in jail;
- Perform community service;
- Potentially lose your job because of a conviction;
- Pay fines to the court and potential restitution to the alleged victim;
- Attend mandatory group counseling; and
- Be barred you from owning a handgun.
Most importantly, you will have a criminal record. Even if you do not serve a day in jail, a criminal record impacts your ability to get a job, receive financial aid, and could limit you on housing options. These records do not go away. And with more employers and landlords using criteria from background checks to determine worthiness, a false accusation could destroy your quality of life.
Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney Today
The attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices have years of experience helping those falsely accused of domestic violence. We understand the emotional and financial strain false accusations place on your life, and we are here to clear your name.
Our attorneys are here to speak with you during a free case evaluation. Schedule your consultation with our team now at 505-200-2982 or request information about our defense services online.