One in three women and one in four men in America have experienced some form of domestic violence in their lifetime. These statistics are terrifying and include physical abuse, rape, and stalking. Even worse, around 44% of domestic violence incidents go unreported.
And unfortunately, there is another side to this seemingly unending scourge. At the beginning of 2023, a national survey revealed that one in 10 people in the U.S. have been falsely accused of domestic abuse. In the majority of cases, it is female accusers and male targets. False accusations can have long-term consequences for both parties and threaten the justice system’s credibility.
If you are fighting a false claim of abuse, rest assured that you have recourse. Thus, seeking legal help for domestic violence allegations should be your first and most urgent action.
Resist the Urge to Defend Yourself Against False Accusations
It is human nature to deny a false accusation immediately. But, if this happens to you, do not go off on a tangent, explaining why you are innocent. It will be difficult enough to keep the situation from harming your reputation and your family life. Do not make it worse by talking when you should be silent.
For instance, if you file for a divorce and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse levels false charges against you, it might be out of hurt or spite. If there is an impending custody battle, this might also be the reason you are suddenly dealing with false domestic violence accusations.
Your partner may think that accusing you will give them the upper hand in the divorce proceedings. They may also believe it will automatically give them custody of your children.
Even if you know the reason, do not discuss it with anyone other than your lawyer. As soon as you discover that there is a case against you, get a lawyer and speak only to them. Once you get the legal ball rolling to get the charges dropped, talk to your friends and family so they know what to expect. You might also need them as witnesses later on, so do not freeze them out while dealing with this unpleasant situation.
Obey Any Restraining Orders
Your first instinct may be to pitch up at your ex-partner’s new place to find out why they opened a case against you. This is the worst thing you could do, especially if they already have a restraining order against you. People who make false accusations will go as far as getting more than one restraining order.
The allegations against you may not be real, but protection orders are. If a protection order restricts you from being within a specific distance of your ex, and you do not adhere to the restriction, you could face a hefty fine or even jail time. No matter how unfair the restraining order is, it is best to protect yourself by complying.
Find Evidence That Proves Your Innocence
It is as difficult to prove domestic violence as it is to prove that someone made a false claim. This means that you need all the help you can get. Start with an alibi if you have one. If, for example, the person accusing you named a place and a date of the alleged abuse, retrace your steps. Were you even in the vicinity of the person on that day? If not, were you with people who can corroborate your version of events? Maybe you were at a work function or grocery shopping at the local mall.
Try to find written proof that supports your alibi. If you made plans with a friend for dinner and sent the details over WhatsApp, you can use that as evidence. If you had booked a table and someone at the restaurant can confirm you showed up, you can use that too. Gather as much information and evidence as possible to fight the case against you.
You should also find texts, messages, notes, and emails exchanged between you and your accuser if you cannot avoid communicating with them (and if there is no restraining order). But do not let anyone see these communications except your lawyer.
Restrict Access to Your Belongings and Online Profiles
Since your accuser has already laid false charges against you, there is nothing that stops them from going after you in other ways, too. If it is your partner accusing you of abuse out of malice or spite, it is best to move out and take your belongings with you. Moreover, you should restrict access to all your stuff and online profiles. Your accuser can do much damage if they get their hands on your car title or other valuable items. Also, change all your social media and online banking passwords. Any platform that requires a password should get a new one. This will help restrict your accuser from misusing your name and reputation.
Turn the Tables on Your Accuser
Being accused of something as awful as domestic violence is traumatic. If your accuser is out to defame you for petty reasons and your career or personal life suffers, you could have grounds to open a defamation case against them. Once you prove your innocence, you can pursue a legal case if you can definitively prove that you suffered because of the false accusations. You can claim monetary compensation for financial and non-financial loss and damages if successful.
If your accuser succeeds in getting a criminal case initiated against you and your innocence is proven, you can pursue a counter-case for malicious prosecution. In this instance, you need to prove that the false claims directly led to the criminal charges against you. You also need proof that you resolved the case in your favor. However, your personal life suffered because of the false accusations.
Don’t Lose Hope
Even if it takes a long time to clear your name, do not lose hope or give up. Your accuser is the lawbreaker, not you. So, try to stay calm, even if you have to appear in court. You should focus on proving your innocence with the help of your loved ones and your lawyer.
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