Millions of women are physically and mentally abused by their spouses, boyfriends and partners each year. Domestic abuse and violence are very serious issues which must be stopped. On the flip side, there are many people, both men and women, who are falsely accused by another who is using the criminal justice system to seek revenge and even up old scores. Scorned lovers are among the largest group of those who level false allegations. In an attempt to “punish” their spouse or partner for cheating on them—or even when they have no proof but think their spouse cheated on them—these people will make false allegations simply to get the target of their anger into trouble. In some cases the accuser has even been known to agree to drop all charges of domestic violence if the accused will leave his or her present partner.
Other times, child custody battles are the catalyst for false allegations of domestic violence. A parent who wants full custody of the children and feels that may not happen during court proceedings may level false charges of domestic violence against the other parent knowing even the accusation could be enough to sway the custody decision in their favor. In fact, criminal charges against one parent can give them significant leverage during a custody battle when the other parent is painted as an abuser. Another potential reason for false accusations lies in the fact that “victims” of domestic violence often receive special benefits such as welfare payments, public housing assistance and other state and federal assistance. As an example, in New York City, the victim of domestic violence is pushed to the front of the line for public housing and can petition the state for emergency financial help. This can occur prior to a conviction for the accused.
Problems with the System
Unfortunately, prosecutors rarely file charges against a person who is found to have made up charges of domestic violence for their own gain. This means there is little or no deterrent to the person who lies about being a victim of domestic violence. While domestic abuse is certainly a significant issue, there are instances where equal danger occurs to the falsely accused. Those who have been falsely accused can lose custody of their children, can lose all the assets which were rightfully theirs during a divorce or can find themselves imprisoned and facing serious fines as well as other serious penalties. Should the person who has been falsely accused be convicted, that criminal conviction will follow them for the rest of their life. They may be unable to get a job, may lose the right to own a firearm, could be unable to obtain student loans or any other type of governmental assistance and could face the stigma resulting from the charges in their community and from family and friends.
If you find yourself the target of false allegations of domestic violence it is imperative you contact a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately. Don’t speak to the police or the prosecutor until you have secured legal representation. If there are any witnesses or details which may help you disprove the false allegations, ensure you secure statements or keep careful records of those details. Charges of domestic violence are extremely serious and can affect the rest of your life, therefore an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial.