We should never take domestic violence lightly. However, there are countless cases every year that involve false domestic violence allegations. Some people go as far as using false domestic violence allegations to increase their odds of winning a divorce battle. Today we are going to take a look at the alarming trend of domestic violence allegations.
The problem with false domestic violence allegations is there is never a penalty. If you made false claims to a court or police officer in any other type of case, you would receive charges. However, courts treat domestic violence differently. The courts and police officers do not want to give anyone a reason not to speak up about domestic abuse. Any attempt to curtail false allegations could have adverse effects on people that are victims of abuse.
Getting a Restraining Order
The first problem with our system is how easy it is to get a restraining order. Many states have language in their laws that include being afraid, apprehensive or experiencing emotional distress. Also, the burden of proof for these types of claims is very low. Standard criminal cases require that the prosecution proves your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In restraining order cases, prosecutors only have to show that it is more likely than not that the accuser is scared of physical violence. That leads to an average of 1.5 million trivial restraining orders every year in the U.S.
There are several classic examples of the flaws in such a system. In 2005 tv star David Letterman had a restraining order taken out against him by a woman he had never met. The woman’s claims were that Letterman was beaming code words and using seductive eye gestures through the television. A court heard the case and granted the restraining order. I think we can all agree that this is an excellent example of how broken the system is when it comes to restraining orders.
False domestic violence claims land 700,00 people in jails around the country every year. This means that 700,000 people spend at least one night in prison. Taxpayers foot the bill when it comes to imprisoning these individuals. If we do not factor in the court costs associated with these claims the price tag is almost $60 million. These claims take money away from other services such as schools or roads.
Effects On Divorce Proceedings
False domestic violence allegations are particularly harmful when it comes to custody battles. Courts factor in domestic abuse allegations when determining what parent should receive custody. 48 states require judges to take domestic abuse into consideration while determining custody of a child. If you are currently dealing with a divorce or custody, you are going to want to fight back immediately. Even if you know you are innocent, do not wait. Making the assumption that the court will side with you because you know you have done nothing wrong is a bad idea. Prepare your defense immediately. Hire an attorney, find witnesses to the event or character references, and find any emails, texts or voicemails that relate to the incident. Lastly, while you are at your hearing remain calm. Any sign of aggression from raising your voice to glaring at your accuser can affect the court’s decision.
While some divorce attorneys may claim that they can handle false domestic violence allegations, it may be wise to get someone with more experience in criminal cases. Not all attorneys are created equal. You wouldn’t want a criminal attorney handling your divorce and you should avoid having a family law attorney handling any criminal matters that may present themselves.
False Domestic Violence Allegations: Statistics
So just how common are false allegations? Much more common than you would think. In 25% of all divorces, one party makes a claim of domestic violence. 50% of all restraining order filings do not even mention physical assault. Men are the target of restraining orders much more often than women, 85% of all restraining orders target men. Taxpayers pay an estimated $2,000 to issue, serve and adjudicate one restraining order. If you take this number and multiply it by the number of trivial or false restraining orders issued every year (1.5 million) the total bill to taxpayers is $3 billion.
A Touchy Subject
We are by no means saying that domestic violence doesn’t exist. Domestic violence happens more often than it ever should. If you are a victim of domestic violence you should always speak up. Fixing the problem with the system that is in place is a tall task. Courts want to support anyone that is the victim of domestic abuse and not give them any reason to keep quiet.
If you are the target of false domestic violence allegations, contact an experienced domestic assault attorney today and start planning your defense.