Domestic violence is a hot topic in criminal law, sparking high emotions from both sides of the issue. On one side you have those who advocate for alleged victims and the swift (and harsh) punishment of their supposed attackers. The other side recognizes that there are always two sides to each story and are dedicated to protecting the rights of everyone involved in domestic violence, including those who have been accused.
In the event that you or someone close to you is facing domestic violence charges in California, it is imperative that you speak with a qualified attorney immediately. The evidentiary hearing will be within days after the arrest, and it is here that a protective order may be placed barring any contact with the accuser. You need to have an attorney present with you at all of these hearings to ensure that your best interest, and that of any children that may be involved, are also being looked after.
Partly due to media attention and the twisting of certain facts regarding domestic violence, there are common misconceptions people have about the crime, those who are accused of it, and even the victims. Take a look at some of those misconceptions and the real truth about domestic violence in California:
The party who was placed under arrest is always the attacker. The party who was arrested is not necessarily going to be the attacker. In most cases, the police are going to place under arrest the person who seems more physically capable of enacting violence onto the other. If a man and woman are having a heated argument and the police arrive, the woman is more likely to be believed if she tells them that she is fearful for her safety.
There is only one aggressor in domestic violence incidences. This is a very big misconception and one of the contributing factors to defendants being falsely accused. Studies show that approximately half of the arguments and fights that take place inside of the home are two-sided where both sides are equally capable of inflicting harm or threatening the other. Again, police are more likely to place under arrest the individual who looks to be the bigger threat. This is why having an attorney at that first hearing is critical. If you were merely warding off an attack by your accuser, it is within your rights to place a protective order against them. This is the start of building your defense against false domestic violence charges.
Women rarely instigate physical violence in these situations. The Center for Disease Control has found that in cases of one-way partner aggression, 71% of the cases were instigated by the woman. Less than 1 out of 5 were able to be explained by the woman defending herself against a male attacker.
Domestic violence rarely has anything to do with a custody disagreement. Studies centered around this subject have found that 25 to 75 percent of alleged domestic violence charges involve couples in custody disagreements. The word alleged is important here since it was also found to be the area with the highest incidence of false charges being waged against a spouse or domestic partner.
Domestic violence convictions that do not involve any form of abuse towards the child or children have no bearing on custody or visitation. It typically makes no difference in the eyes of the family court who the alleged victim of domestic violence is. A parent who has been convicted of domestic violence stands to lose the right to be the custodial parent, and may even have restrictions placed on their visitations with their own children. Facing false allegations of domestic violence can have a serious and long-lasting impact on parent-child relationships if the accused is found guilty.
By reaching an amicable agreement with your accuser, you can have the charges dismissed. This is not the case in California, nor in most jurisdictions in the United States. Once the charge has been filed, the prosecutor is legally bound to pursue it, despite what the accuser may say. This can be more damming to your false charge of domestic violence as your accuser could face charges of filing a false claim if she or he does try and recant. It is best to avoid contact with your accuser and allow your defense attorney to work on gathering evidence that contradicts their story.
There is no defense for a domestic violence charge. If you are being falsely accused of domestic violence, you have many defense options. As California courts start to recognize the possibility of false charges being filed as a revenge tactic or ploy to gain custody, they are pressing prosecutors to provide solid evidence of abuse when the accused is claiming that the charges are false. These are he said-she said cases in many circumstances, where the physical evidence is going to be the deciding factor.
Domestic violence charges are always about violence. The wording of the law makes those surrounding domestic violence very broad. For example, a person need only feel that they are in physical danger in order to declare that domestic violence has occurred. The most taciturn person you know may suddenly be facing a domestic violence charge simply because they told their partner they were going to smack them in the face. There is no need for a history of violence to be shown before an arrest is made and charges are filed.
Domestic violence is about exerting patriarchal control. There is no evidence to back this statement. In fact, in cultures where male dominance is valued, there are fewer incidences of domestic violence. There is no direct link between aggressive behavior towards a partner and gender stereotypes or attitudes.
Don’t let public misconceptions discourage you from fighting a false allegation of domestic violence. A conviction could be devastating to your future and to the relationships you have with your children. Speak with an attorney who is familiar with these types of cases. Their expertise will help unveil the truth and have your name and reputation restored.