According to the Denver, Colorado-based nonprofit, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. In spite of these staggering statistics, many people each year are still falsely accused of committing domestic violence crimes in the United States.
“Domestic violence doesn’t have to be physical violence,” notes a representative from Hand Law domestic violence lawyers, a law firm in Colorado that specializes in defending individuals falsely accused of domestic violence crimes. “Under Colorado law, domestic violence is a sentence enhancer applied to any crime in which a current or former intimate partner is named as the victim, if that crime involved any element of violence, control or coercion.”
The reasons for false domestic violence accusations are many and complex, including situations where one partner in a relationship seeks to get revenge on the other after a difficult breakup, or in the wake of a nasty divorce.
If you have been falsely charged with a domestic violence crime, here are some tips you can follow to begin the process of exonerating yourself and getting your life back on track.
Hire a Qualified Domestic Violence Lawyer
Hiring a qualified lawyer who has experience defending people who have been falsely accused of domestic violence should be your first move. A qualified lawyer will know the domestic violence law requirements in your state and how best to advise you in your particular situation. A good lawyer may also be able to help keep you from losing your job and also might be able to work out a deal to keep you from going to prison in cases where the charges against you are serious.
Seek Support From Friends and Family
Being falsely accused of a domestic violence offence, or any serious crime, can have serious repercussions that can include job loss, losing friends and other important relationships, losing custody of your children, depression, anxiety and insomnia. During this difficult time it is important that you take care of yourself and seek support from close friends and family. Do your best to find time to take part in wholesome recreational activities, such as participation in sports, that can help get your mind off the charges.
Do what you can to avoid using drugs or alcohol as a way of making yourself feel better. In many cases, substance use can make your situation worse. And in some states, people accused of domestic violence crimes may be ordered by the court to abstain from alcohol completely.
Be Up Front With Your Employer
If might seem counter intuitive to let your employer know that you’ve been accused of a domestic violence crime, but chances are that the company you work for will find out about the charges whether you tell them or not. If your employer discovers that you have been accused of a serious crime before you let them know, the odds that you will lose your job are much higher.
Schedule a meeting with your boss or human resources department to explain your situation and let them know about any upcoming court dates you will need to attend. Depending on the severity of the charges, it might be helpful to have your lawyer attend the meeting with you.
Consider Seeing a Therapist or Joining a Support Group
It is important for you to keep your spirits up while your fight the false domestic violence charges that have been leveled against you. If you find yourself feeling depressed, staying at home rather than participating in social activities, or avoiding your friends and family, it might be a sign that you need to see a therapist or join a support group to talk about your feelings.
While most therapists charge an hourly fee, participating in a support group is generally free. A support group setting will allow you to meet other people who are in situations similar to your own and who might be able to offer you helpful advice.
If you would like to join a support group but are having trouble finding one in your area, try asking your lawyer for a recommendation. Support groups can also sometimes be found through churches and other religious institutions, nonprofit organizations, and community centers.
If you can’t find an in-person support group in your area, some people also find success participating in a virtual support group online.