How To Help Limit The Damage After Being Wrongfully Accused
Every state including California has laws in place to protect individuals from being abused in their own home by a caretaker or partner. These anti domestic violence laws are necessary to secure the safety of people of all ages and genders.
Unfortunately, this is not a perfect society and in some circumstances those laws are taken advantage of. Statistics estimate that 700,000 arrests are made each year across the nation for false allegations of domestic violence. These false claims of domestic violence are extremely dangerous to the person that the claim is being made against.
Why Make a False Claim?
On a broad level, abusing the system and filing a claim of domestic violence invalidates the entire process, putting the credibility of real victims at question. On a smaller level, the ramifications for the accused are life altering. Not only are they placed under arrest, they could lose the privilege to spend time with their children, be evicted from their home and face social and professional stigma. This could cause them to lose the support of friends and families at a time when they need it most.
So why would someone file false charges?
In many cases it is during the separation of the couple, particularly when there is question of the custody of minor children. This is an emotional time for families where gestures and harsh words that have been used between the couple for years are now fodder for a false claim of abuse. In this case it is a last desperate effort of the accuser to gain control and manipulate a situation into their favor.
One problem with the laws that allows this to happen is in the way in which they are written. By using terms such as “fear of harm” the laws become very broad and suddenly a raised arm with no physical contact becomes a charge of domestic violence.
This is especially damning for men, who are seen as physically stronger, larger and more aggressive than women. That makes it easy for law enforcement responding to the scene to immediately find more credibility with a female accuser than with the accused male.
What Should the Accused Do When False Claims of Domestic Violence are Brought Against Them?
If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence in California, you need to act quickly and hire a top-rated defense attorney who has experience defending false accusations of domestic violence in your area. You only have about 2 weeks before the first evidentiary hearing so you, with the help of an attorney, need to act fast before the situation escalates.
If the charge is stemming from an argument where verbal threats were made towards you, or threatening gestures, then you can file your own charges. A domestic violence injunction (DVI) filed by you as well makes a criminal protective order (CPO) work both ways, discouraging the other party from pushing the issue further with you. Do not make anything up out of a desire for revenge. As your lawyer should tell you, credibility means everything in these cases. If you are caught in one lie by the prosecutor or judge, your chances of winning over the false claim could be lost.
Your lawyer should advise you during this time to stay as far away from the accuser as possible. Make sure that you strictly abide by the CPO if one was placed. Sadly, this could impact time with your children, but for now what is likely in their best interest is for you to be cleared of the false charges. Once cleared, proof that the other parent made a false accusation against you will help in your custody and visitation hearings.
Avoiding contact with your accuser includes phone conversations and text messages. Even a statement made in jest by you could be turned into a threat when taken out of context. If confronted by the person, walk away and call your lawyer. Don’t engage in any type of conversation, even if they claim it will be amicable.
Do keep logs of any attempts to contact you and save all recorded and text messages. Their case against you is reliant of an alleged fear that they have. Providing proof that they are interested in seeing you is in direct contradiction of that alleged fear.
What Will a Lawyer Do?
Besides advising you on how to act during this time and help with filing your own DVI, your attorney will also work with the court to obtain a copy of the official complaint made against you. This is an important document that can be used during your hearings to shed doubt on the credibility of your accuser. If at any point in the hearings their story differs from what is in that report your lawyer will use that to show how their statements against you cannot be trusted.
Your lawyer may also advise you to file a civil claim against the plaintiff. A personal injury suit for defamation of character is lawful in this situation for the emotional distress you suffered along with the personal and wrongful assassination against your character. You may have no expectation of a large monetary award, but the court will view this as you taking a strong stance in your innocence of this crime.
The Legal Process
After your arrest, the charges will be examined and a determination made whether there is enough evidence to move forward with the case. Contrary to what you may have been told, the accuser cannot just simply recant and have those charges dropped. Once the arrest has been made, the California court system has a duty to follow up on them.
You will typically spend 48 hours or less in jail until being released or a bail amount is set. This is the time when you need to be making arrangements to hire an attorney. Asserting your innocence from the very beginning will help to solidify your case.
Your first opportunity to do this will be at the arraignment hearing. This is where you will plead not guilty to the charges and preliminary evidence is presented. This is also the time when the accuser may ask for a CPO. With your lawyer present, you have the opportunity to ask for your own if the circumstances warrant.
If the case proceeds you will eventually be called for a pre-trial hearing. Again you will be asked how you are pleading to the charges to which you will answer not guilty. If the prosecution still wishes to proceed, then the judge will set a date for a criminal trial.
An aggressive attorney will try not to allow the case to proceed that far if possible. Instead, they will work to provide the evidence needed to compel the prosecutor to drop the charges. In some cases the prosecutor may even charge your accuser with filing a false police report.
These are not the type of false charges one would normally benefit from accepting a plea deal. This will affect your standing in the community and could negatively impact your visitation and custody rights with your own children. Don’t let that happen to you. Get in touch with a lawyer as fast as possible to start making your case of innocence.
Those facing charges can obtain a free no hassle case evaluation from a DV defense lawyer today by calling (888) 250-2865 today. A MacGregor & Collins, LLP legal professional will assist you and help you to better understand your options.