Domestic abuse is a serious charge that can affect your relationship with your children and your standing in the community. Unfortunately, false allegations of domestic abuse can and do happen. It may occur because a partner wants sole custody of the children or wants to prevent you from seeing them on a regular basis. Such an allegation can turn your world upside down – but there are ways to fight it. Here are a few ways our criminal defense attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices can help with your false allegations of domestic abuse.
Understand the Issues with Domestic Abuse Allegations
False allegations of abuse typically arise from intent to seek an advantage in custody and divorce proceedings. There is a growing camp of people who believe that men face an unfair advantage in divorce and domestic abuse allegations. For example, the largest law against domestic violence, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), still does not contain gender-neutral language. There are also concerns with the definition of domestic violence itself.
Domestic abuse has a broad definition that encompasses intentional or unlawful infliction of assault, bodily injury, or physical harm, as well as fear of the imminent acts listed. “Fear of harm” is extremely subjective and it can be difficult to combat. The simple act of raising a hand or a voice in the heat of an argument can serve as grounds for domestic abuse, if another party fears harm might occur. Based on traditional social mores, men are perceived as more aggressive and stronger than women, and this might affect the police officer who files the report or a judge who hands down a ruling. For these reasons, there are fundamental flaws in the domestic abuse reporting system.
The Burden of Proof
A domestic abuse allegation requires that the plaintiff (the person claiming abuse) must provide evidence of the claim based on the “preponderance of the evidence.” While criminal prosecutors must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that a criminal activity occurred, a person alleging domestic violence must prove only that it is “more likely than not” that abuse occurred. This is the lowest legal evidentiary standard, and the courts have a great deal of discretion in the matter. Often, they err on the side of caution and may issue restraining orders based on weak evidence.
Defending False Allegations | Ciccarelli Law Offices
There are a few things you can do to mount a vigorous defense against false allegations of abuse:
- Hire legal representation as soon as possible. If you haven’t already done so, hire someone to represent your rights in court.
- Know your options under the law. An attorney can help inform you of specific state and local statutes, so you can better understand your legal options.
- Prepare your own evidence. Anything that defends your side of the story, from texts to email and records of phone calls will be essential to your case.
- Have witness testimony. Witnesses who speak to the quality of your character are good, but those who can testify to the baselessness of the allegations are better.
- Show their motivation to lie, if you can. This can be beneficial in discrediting their false allegation.
Domestic abuse is a serious allegation. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can fight false accusations. Speaking with a Chester County criminal defense attorney early on can make a huge difference in your future.