If someone files a complaint alleging domestic violence against you, a police officer may show up at your door and an arrest will occur. No matter what form the abuse takes, domestic violence can have devastating, life-changing effects on victims regardless of their age, gender, or socioeconomic standing. Even if you know you have been falsely accused, an officer will take the word of the victim first and wait to be proven otherwise
But what happens if you have been taken from your home and charged with a serious, life-changing crime that you have been falsely accused of? How do you protect your rights and your reputation?
What’s the best thing to do if you’ve been been falsely accused of domestic violence?
The best step is to hire an attorney immediately after a domestic violence complaint is ordered. A skilled defense lawyer will explain your rights and assert your defenses. You do have the right to a hearing. You do have a right to question witnesses against you. You do have the right to present your side of the conflict.
In many cases, your lawyer will work towards a negotiated agreement so that the complaint is withdrawn or so that the length of any no-contact order is limited. Often, there are alternatives that can help to address the situation, including marriage counseling and anger management counseling. If substance abuse is the cause of the conflict, then treatment for the abuse may be considered.
The attorney will also explain the practical steps you should take while the hearing is pending such as honoring any no-contact order. If you need to get your belongings, an attorney can help arrange for an independent person to get them. If you have children, then arrangements can be made for someone both parties to the dispute trust to arrange to transport them.
What should you do, or not do, if you’ve been falsely accused?
- Don’t discuss the ongoing case with anyone, especially not on social media.
- Do reach out to friends and family who can attest to your personality and actions, and ask them to speak on your behalf.
- Don’t try to talk to your accuser, because that can be construed as harassment or as a violation of a no-contact order.
- Do send all official communications through your attorney.
- Don’t try to get the kids “on your side” by bashing your spouse, as this can be construed as an attempt to alienation the children.
What are some of the consequences if you’re convicted of domestic violence?
As domestic violence lawyers with offices in Vancouver and Battle Ground, WA, we can tell you that being falsely accused of domestic violence can yield consequences that are nothing short of traumatizing. For starters, an accusation of domestic violence can lead to your arrest and booking into jail. Some domestic violence arrests will result in a temporary “no-contact” order. But if a conviction is made, this order will continue indefinitely, and other consequences will most likely follow. These consequences include:
- Loss of rights & credibility. If you’re accused of domestic violence, you can lose your right to possess and use firearms, at least temporarily. Being accused of domestic violence may make it unlikely that you’ll be able to rent an apartment or house because the incident will appear on your credit report if a jury finds you guilty even when you’re innocent.
- Loss of reputation & custody. Being accused of domestic violence can cause irreversible damage to your reputation as a community member and professional. If you have children, the accusation may force you to lose custody of your kids or limit your access to them even if a third party supervises your visits.
- Loss of finances. Being accused of domestic violence can drain your finances as well. Unless you want to settle for the services of a public defender, you’ll need to hire a domestic violence attorney to defend you. Even if you’re deemed not guilty in criminal court, your accuser may choose to sue you for damages in civil court, which can cost you thousands of dollars on top of your legal fees.
You may be ordered to leave your marital home while the complaint is pending and if a no-contact order is entered.
If you’re falsely accused of domestic violence, you must take immediate action to build a defense. The first thing you should do is call us at 360-695-3309 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. A licensed attorney is available to field incoming calls around the clock, so no matter when you’re accused of or arrested for domestic violence, help is just a phone call away. At Philbrook Law Office, our Vancouver and Battle Ground, WA lawyers have the experience to help defend and defuse domestic violence charges.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.