What if I am Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence?
Usually, a false accusation means one of two things. The alleged victim fabricated the allegations, or there is not enough evidence to convict the defendant. Alleged victims very rarely fabricate domestic violence allegations. Lack of evidence false accusations are much more common. The burden of proof in criminal court, beyond any reasonable doubt, is high. Basically, prosecutors must have an overwhelming amount of physical and testimonial evidence to convict defendants.
The alleged victim’s injury is usually the main physical evidence in a domestic violence claim. Extremely minor injuries, like mild abrasions, could be accidental instead of intentional. Sometimes, people really do walk into doors or fall downstairs. The alleged victim’s testimony is usually the lynchpin of a domestic violence case. Without it, the case usually cannot go forward.
Domestic violence allegations have significant direct and indirect consequences. A Norcross criminal defense attorney can reduce or eliminate them. The direct consequences include high fines and lengthy court supervision, even for a first offense. Indirect consequences include future problems in family court cases, the loss of your right to possess a firearm and the general stigma that comes with a domestic violence conviction.
Generally, when they respond to domestic violence calls, law enforcement officers must inform alleged victims about their right to apply for protective orders. Criminal courts usually have jurisdiction in these matters, which means the aforementioned reasonable doubt standard applies.
A Norcross criminal defense attorney cannot do much to prevent a Judge from issuing an ex parte protective order. Judges may issue these orders, which are usually valid for 30 days, if the alleged victim’s affidavit convinces the Judge that they are in immediate danger.
Ex parte orders offer limited protection. Family violence protection orders, which are permanent in some cases, are much different. These orders, which a Judge can issue after a full hearing, are often sweeping. Lawyers may present a full range of defenses at these hearings.
The defendant does not have to “prove” anything in a domestic battery or protective order matter. The other side, which in the case of domestic battery is the state, has the burden of proof.
This point sheds light on a commonly held misconception. Back in ye olden days, when spousal privilege laws were quite broad, alleged victims could drop criminal charges. An alleged victim could assert spousal privilege and refuse to testify. Today, an alleged victim is simply a witness. As such, prosecutors can subpoena alleged victims and force them to testify against their will. These cases are rare, but they do happen.
So, the best option in these cases is to refute the evidence, at least in most cases. Alleged victims almost always refuse medical treatment. Without any medical records to substantiate the injury, it is harder for prosecutors to prove that the injury was intentional and not accidental.
Testimonial evidence is often shaky in these matters as well. Frequently, the alleged victim had been drinking, which means their memory and recall are suspect. Extreme stress also compromises memory and recall. In one famous study, an actor berated individuals in an interrogation room for about two hours. The next day, most people could not pick the actor out of a lineup. The stress they endured overwhelmed their memory and recall.
An affirmative defense, like self-defense, might be available, as well. Proportionality is usually the key issue. Fighting words, no matter how extreme or offensive, never justify a physical response.
Reach Out to a Hard-Working Gwinnett County Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
People who are falsely accused of domestic violence have legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced Norcross criminal defense lawyer, contact Zimmerman & Associates, Attorneys at Law.