Our nation’s courts take domestic violence charges extremely seriously. Relationships are complicated and both men and women can also be victims of domestic violence. Experts believe that the coronavirus pandemic has caused an increase in domestic violence cases across the country. With job loss and other economic challenges, tensions are on the rise between family members.
While prosecutors should take domestic violence charges incredibly seriously, false accusations of domestic violence do happen. When someone mistakenly or unjustly accuses someone else of domestic violence, the defendant’s professional and personal lives are at stake. It is incredibly important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands the following common domestic violence defenses.
- Lack of Proof
Domestic violence cases often come down to a “he said/she said” situation. In most cases, the majority of evidence in domestic violence cases consists of victim and witness statements. In some cases, a fight does occur, but only escalates into angry screaming and finger-pointing, which is not enough to rise to the crime of domestic violence. Thus, in many domestic abuse cases, you will be able to poke holes in the story. In criminal cases, the prosecution has the burden of proof.
They must prove all of the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Experienced defense lawyers can poke holes in the prosecutor’s case, showing the judge and jury that the prosecutor has not met his or her burden of proof. If the prosecutor cannot prove the crime, the jury will find the defendant not guilty. The more time defendant’s lawyers spend investigating the case, the more evidence they can typically find to make arguments for lack of evidence.
- Deliberately False Accusations
Unfortunately, men and women have falsely accused a spouse or partner of domestic violence purposefully. Sometimes, in child custody and divorce cases, one spouse will make false accusations against a spouse or partner in order to bolster their own position in custody or divorce proceedings. For example, a mother who is seeking sole custody may make a false domestic violence claim in order to keep her children close.
The best way to defend against deliberately false domestic violence accusations is to find inconsistencies in the plaintiff’s testimony of what happened to prove that he or she is lying. Defendants can do so by comparing police reports against eyewitness accounts. If the case proceeds to a trial without a plea bargain, your defense lawyer can cross-examine the person who is making domestic violence accusations against you.
- Law Enforcement Officers are Charging the Wrong Suspect
In some cases, domestic violence victims accuse the wrong perpetrator. They either make this mistake or on purpose for their own personal reasons. When victims identify the wrong abuser, it is extremely important to gather as much evidence as possible. Your defense team will need to prove that you had an alibi when the alleged domestic violence incident happened. Doing so will prove that you could not have been at the scene of the domestic violence incident.
The court system is often extremely harsh when it comes to domestic violence cases. Unfortunately, domestic violence is often messy. Many domestic violence disputes involve two or more people who are both lashing out. When law enforcement officers arrive at the scene of a crime, they often cannot figure out who actually committed a crime. Similarly, they often do not have a clear understanding of who was at fault and whether one person who was involved was engaged in self-defense.
Every state recognizes a person’s right to self-defense. Anybody who is placed in a dangerous situation must be able to protect themselves from injuries and death. Even if someone is harming you, you always have the right to protect yourself through reasonable force.
If you used self-defense during a domestic violence incident, you will need to prove that your safety was in imminent danger. You will also need to prove that you were justified in causing physical harm because you were just protecting yourself.
If you need to make a self-defense claim in a domestic violence dispute, you will have an uphill battle to protect your rights. You will not be appearing as a victim in front of the judge and jury, but rather, you will be seen as the domestic violence offender. The sooner you speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to develop your legal defense, the better.
The Definition of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence involves causing injury or harm to a household member, or threatening or attempting to cause harm or injury to a household member while being able to carry out the threat of attempted harm. Violating a domestic violence protection order, or trespassing in a domestic violence shelter is also a crime.
Only certain relationships are considered domestic violence crimes, including spouses, former spouses, people who parent children together, and people of the opposite sex who live together, or who have lived together. Domestic violence crimes that are particularly aggressive are called “domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.” If you are charged with that crime, it is even more important that you contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
Domestic violence crimes can be charged as misdemeanors and felonies. The penalties for domestic violence are serious, and the penalties for aggravated domestic violence are even more severe. The penalties include five years of imprisonment. The facts of the case will determine how prosecutors charge the defendant.
Contact Our Experienced Domestic Violence Lawyers as Soon as Possible
Domestic violence convictions can be devastating for you and your family. At Bannon Law Group, LLC, our skilled domestic violence lawyers are here to help. We will gather evidence and determine which defenses will be the most valuable in your case. If someone has accused you of domestic violence, contact our law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.