FALSELY ACCUSED OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Nearly 37% of women and more than 30% of men in Colorado say they have experienced physical or sexual violence or stalking by someone with whom they have or had an intimate relationship. Although these statistics are alarming, they don’t reflect the number of men and women falsely accused of committing these acts. In so many cases, the only evidence of a crime is the alleged victim’s word against the accused and nothing more.
As former prosecuting attorneys, we understand the priority of protecting someone who makes allegations of domestic violence. We also understand those protections come at the expense of the accused whose rights are compromised before they have the opportunity to defend themselves against the accusations. As criminal defense attorneys, we work zealously to protect those wrongly accused of domestic violence. At Hebets & McCallin, we don’t try to take the closest exits for our clients. We do whatever it takes to defend their rights and freedom from accusations that can destroy their lives. We represent clients in Denver, Colorado, and Douglas, Arapahoe, Jefferson, and Adams counties, Colorado.
What Are the Consequences of a Domestic Violence Charge?
There are serious and long-lasting consequences of just being charged with a domestic violence crime. You can be arrested and have an order of protection filed against you based on the mere allegation and without due process. Charges of the arrest and restraining orders will affect family, friends, and co-workers. You may lose your job. You may be prohibited from coming near your home and have to find somewhere to live for a while.
If convicted, you face jail time, fines, court-ordered counseling, and rehabilitation programs. You may lose custody of your children or only be allowed to see them under supervision. You will have a criminal record for charges and conviction of a violent crime which can prohibit you from specific employment, housing, and educational opportunities.
These are not charges you face on your own. You need the best criminal defense possible.
Why Would Someone Make False Allegations of Domestic Violence?
There are many reasons why someone in your life may decide to falsely accuse you of domestic violence or domestic battery. It’s easy to make them. Domestic violence isn’t just the commission of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. The threat of it is also considered a charge. That makes it easier for someone to allege abuse when motivated by or mistaken for other factors.
An altercation between intimate partners can be mistaken for domestic violence. For example, the other person taunts you to anger you, and; you respond by yelling back, which is when the exchange is witnessed by someone else who believes you were abusing the other person.
If law enforcement is called to intervene in a domestic event, they may be unable to determine who is the perpetrator and who is the victim, so they arrest both people which harms the actual victim.
A parent engaged in a heated child custody battle could allege domestic violence against the other parent to gain custody and limit the other parent’s visitation rights.
A disgruntled partner, perhaps facing separation or divorce, might allege domestic violence to force you from your home and if you work for the same employer, from your job.
Revenge is often the root of a false allegation. The partner may want to get back at you for having an affair, for filing for divorce, or even for just feeling as though you are neglecting their feelings.
In some cases, the accusing partner suffers from mental health issues, including bipolar, depression, PTSD, multiple personality disorder, or paranoia, among others.
What Should I Do if I Have Been Accused of Domestic Violence?
The first thing you should do if accused of domestic violence is to reach out to a criminal defense attorney. If arrested, do not answer questions asked by law enforcement until you have consulted with your attorney and your attorney is present. What you say can be used against you at trial.
Try to gather any evidence of motivation for the false accusation. For example, a divorce or custody petition ripped up by the accuser, angry or unbalanced communication from the accuser such as letters, text, email, and voicemail messages. If there are witnesses to the other person’s behavior or motivation or a subject event, gather their names so your lawyer can contact them for interviews.
Do not have any contact whatsoever with your accuser. Even without a restraining order, avoid physical proximity and all communication with them. Do not delete text, email, and voicemail messages the accuser sends to you, but do not, under any circumstances, respond to them.
You should also avoid any contact with potential witnesses and avoid discussing the issue with family and friends. Your attorney can provide direction regarding communication of any kind with anyone else.
You will be tempted to do whatever you can to exonerate yourself to your family, friends, co-workers, and employer. Resist the temptation. Remove yourself from all social media. Don’t think you can delete posts and messages of any kind. Digital footprints are permanent and can be used against you.
What Defenses Might I Raise?
Even testifying under oath that you did not commit a domestic violence crime is not enough. After all, the person falsely accusing you will do the same, and chances are, a judge and jury will believe the accuser more often than the accused. That said, there are some defenses you may be able to raise, including a lack of intent, consent by the alleged victim, or the alleged victim’s motivation for revenge.
Perhaps the accuser was injured unintentionally during an argument. For example, you slammed a door, and something fell on the accuser and bruised them.
In cases of alleged sexual assault, your defense may be that the sexual contact was consensual nor forced.
If the alleged victim is motivated by spite, you may offer evidence to support your contention that the allegation is an attempt at revenge, not reality.
How a Knowledgeable Attorney Can Help
Don’t let a false accusation of domestic violence destroy the rest of your life, including present and future relationships. We used to prosecute people like you, accused of domestic violence. We use that experience and insight to defend those falsely accused of domestic violence and protect their rights.
If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, contact Hebets & McCallin in Denver, Colorado, to talk about your case. Don’t delay building your defense. Our team serves clients also in Douglas, Arapahoe, Jefferson, and Adams counties, Colorado.