Most states, including Maine, take allegations of domestic violence very seriously. In fact, many local police departments are required to make an arrest on any call in which they suspect domestic violence may have occurred. While strict domestic violence laws are intended to provide victims with immediate protection, they can also be abused. False accusations of domestic violence are quite common, and because the definitions of domestic violence extend beyond actions that leave physical evidence (e.g., threatening, stalking), it can be challenging for someone falsely accused to defend their innocence.
That said, if you have been wrongly accused of domestic violence, how you respond can have a considerable impact on how well you can defend against these charges. Let's look at some ways to position yourself for the best possible outcome.
Don't Be Confrontational
For most of us, our reflex is to deny (sometimes vehemently) when we are falsely accused. However, if you come across as confrontational in any way, either to your partner or law enforcement, it can make a bad situation worse and even make you appear more guilty. Resist the urge to become emotional or combative; stay calm. Avoid making any statements to the police without an attorney present, either to confirm or deny the charges. The statement “Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law” applies here.
Obey Any/All PFA Orders
The court may issue a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order—a temporary restraining forbidding you from contacting the alleged victim while your trial is pending and even afterward. Violating this order constitutes a separate criminal charge and can further hurt your case. As painful and unfair as it may feel at the moment, be sure to honor any PFAs to the letter. Don't take it upon yourself to break the order and try to “explain” things to the other party. You'll have the chance to defend yourself soon enough.
Consult with an Attorney Right Away
Before answering to the charges or trying to iron out any misunderstandings on your own, it's crucial to hire an experienced domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible. A skilled attorney will be able to conduct an investigation, gather witnesses and evidence in your defense, provide sound advice, discuss your options, and help you settle on a plan for constructively dealing with the charges. In many cases, the attorney's involvement can help you get the false charges dismissed before they ever go to trial.
If you are facing domestic violence charges, we can help. Contact the Law Office of William H. Ashe today.