An accusation of domestic violence carries severe consequences: an arrest, an indictment, or a restraining order could irreparably damage your reputation and expose you to criminal charges. Since domestic violence often takes behind closed doors, it is notoriously difficult to prove. While this can make it difficult for genuine victims to seek relief, it also means that accusations of domestic violence can be weaponized against romantic partners and embittered spouses.
Why People Make False Allegations of Domestic Violence
When people make false claims of domestic violence, they not only jeopardize their former partner’s freedom—they denigrate the millions of men, women, and children who suffer genuine abuse but are all too often unbelieved.
Unfortunately, false accusations of domestic abuse are not uncommon. They are often employed in divorce proceedings and custodial battles, ostensibly to gain the upper hand in negotiations.
Reasons Someone May Accuse a Partner of Abuse
- Gain the upper hand in divorce proceedings
- Secure custody of their children
- Ruin a former partner’s reputation
The Danger of a Domestic Abuse Accusation
Every state has its own domestic violence statutes.
Florida, for instance, recognizes a number of offenses as domestic violence. You could be arrested or charged with a crime if your spouse or former partner simply claims that you touched them against their will. An accusation could lead to criminal charges. Even if prosecutors drop the case, you could suffer immensely.
What to Do If You’ve Been Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence
A domestic violence accusation can be emotionally overwhelming. Even if you know you did nothing wrong, you might already be facing a law enforcement investigation, criminal charges, and increasingly hostile family and friends. You might wish to speak directly to your partner, hoping a civil conversation can convince them to drop the charges.
However, simply having a conversation with an enraged partner could be devastating.
How to Protect Your Rights After Being Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence
- Confide in close friends and relatives. If your partner is behaving erratically and threatening you with a false allegation of domestic violence, tell someone—a friend, a relative, or even a national help hotline. Your loved ones could support you in court if your case is ever escalated. Confiding in loved ones can help you retain a support network if law enforcement becomes involved.
- Avoid all contact with the plaintiff or alleged victim. Do not try to call them, text them, or visit their place of employment, even if you think a face-to-face conversation could solve your problem.
- Secure your financial and social media accounts. A disgruntled and potentially unstable partner could go to great and seemingly unbelievable lengths to complicate your life, even if it means fabricating evidence against you. If your partner has announced their intent to initiate a domestic abuse case or civil lawsuit, ensure they no longer have access to any shared accounts they could use against you.
- Gather evidence of your innocence. If your partner says you abused them on a certain day or in a certain way, check your records. Many false allegations of domestic abuse are spontaneously and poorly planned. Your partner may have said you hurt them when you were really at work or visiting family.
- Contact an attorney. A domestic violence accusation can have serious repercussions. Even if your partner’s claims seem fabricated, the police and the prosecutor’s office may still be obliged to undertake a full and thorough investigation. You stand your best chance of reasserting your rights when you have a skilled professional in your corner.
How an Attorney Could Help Protect Your Reputation and Rights
If your spouse or former partner has accused you of domestic violence, you probably cannot stop the police from investigating or prevent the prosecutor from filing charges. Your case needs to be handled by an experienced domestic abuse defense attorney.
What a Domestic Violence Conviction Can Mean
- Result in a permanent criminal record
- Damage your reputation
- Prevent you from seeing for weeks, months, or even years
- Deprive you of your rights, including your constitutional rights to vote or own a firearm
Contact an Okaloosa County Domestic Violence Attorney
If you or a loved one has been falsely accused of Domestic Violence in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.
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