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Depending on the facts of the domestic violence case, domestic abuse charges can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony and lead to jail time or a state prison term.
1. Should you document the facts underlying domestic violence accusations?
Yes. You should write down all of the facts concerning false allegations of domestic violence.
Sometimes an alleged “victim” may just make up false claims out of the blue. If this is the case, then there is really nothing to document.
But there is usually some incident or acts that lead to a person making false allegations of domestic abuse. If this is true in your case, make sure to take notes on what took place. Try to include as many details as you can.
A written account will help provide evidence of exactly what took place.
Further, domestic violence cases can take a long time to resolve. You can always go back and look at your notes so that you provide a consistent story of what took place. You want to avoid providing law enforcement or a district attorney with contradicting accounts of what happened.
2. Can you gather evidence to support your case?
Yes. You should gather any evidence that supports your innocence when facing false domestic violence allegations.
For example, you can try to get:
statements from witnesses who saw an incident,
statements from people who know the “victim” lacks credibility, or
physical evidence that supports your case (for example, if an accuser lies and says you ripped a piece of clothing, find and keep the item with no tear in it).
Note also that many people make false accusations of domestic violence to try and gain leverage in a child custody dispute/custody battle. If you believe this is the case, you should collect evidence that shows you are a good parent.
For example, keep a diary that shows:
the time you spent with a child,
the things you did with or for your child, and
any sacrifices you made for your child.
3. What about changing login credentials?
Yes. You should change login credentials for things like your email, cell phone, and social media accounts.
You never know the extent an accuser will go to try and get the upper hand in an alleged domestic violence crime. For example, if someone is making up a claim of domestic assault, he/she may try and access your cell phone and send messages to him/herself that says something like:
“You had it coming,” or
“I did not want to shove you, but you left me no choice.”
Change your login information so that an accuser cannot add strength to any false claims.
4. Will a court issue a restraining order after a claim of domestic violence?
Some jurisdictions say that a court can issue a restraining order or no contact order against the person accused of domestic violence.2
The purpose of the order is to protect the alleged “victim.”
If you are facing a restraining order, you must do everything you can to comply with the order, including having no contact with the accuser.
The criminal laws of most states say that it is a crime if a person violates an order of protection.3
You do not want false allegations to lead to real and legitimate criminal charges.
5. Should you contact a criminal defense attorney?
Yes. If you or a family member has been falsely accused of domestic violence, it is critical to consult with a criminal lawyer/domestic violence defense attorney.
A domestic violence lawyer can assist by:
helping you gather evidence of innocence,
making sure you understand all of the directions within a restraining order,
working with the prosecutor to dismiss a case before he/she files charges, and
contesting charges if they do get filed.
Note that in criminal cases, most experienced attorneys and law firms/law offices provide free consultations. A free consult means you can get legal advice at no cost.
Further, your communications with your attorney are protected by the attorney-client relationship. According to this bond, your lawyer cannot disclose your statements before getting your consent.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.