The real victim of a domestic violence claim may be the accused who is the victim of lies and false accusations. There are lots of reasons why someone would make a false claim of abuse: a bad break-up, divorce, or child custody dispute.
People accused of crimes in the United States are supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, the court of public opinion seems to be the opposite. However, if you are facing criminal charges, it is the criminal court that you should be most concerned about because a conviction for domestic violence can lead to prison time, fines, and even the loss of your rights to own a gun.
Before pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge, make sure you talk to an experienced Virginia criminal attorney about how to defend your case. Contact Bryan J. Jones, LLC in Charlottesville today.
Why Would Someone Make False Domestic Violence Claims?
There are many reasons why the alleged victim or another person may make false claims of abuse. Even if there is some element of truth to the alleged victim's story, they may twist the truth or exaggerate the facts to make the situation seem worse than it is. Some motivations for making false claims of domestic violence include the following:
Jealousy and Scorned Lovers
Shakespeare called jealousy “the green-eyed monster.” Jealousy in a romantic relationship can be a strong force that causes people to go to extreme measures. When a relationship falls apart, it can feel like the end of the world. There may be no way for the scorned lover to punish the other for leaving and creates a false story as a last effort to make the other pay. A call to the police for a report of domestic violence can punish the other for leaving the relationship and moving on to someone else.
Obtaining Housing and Benefits
People who claim to be victims of domestic violence can sometimes receive specific aid or special treatment from the government for things like welfare and public housing. This can give them free or reduced-cost housing, utilities, food, and other benefits. They may be able to receive these benefits even when getting child support, alimony, or income from a job.
Child Custody Battles
Child custody battles are generally the most contentious part of a divorce or separation. Children may be the last bargaining chip couples have and use custody as a last-ditch effort to punish the other. A parent may be able to falsely claim domestic violence as a way to get primary custody or get preferential treatment by the courts in a child custody hearing.
Friends or Family Do Not Approve
It is not always the alleged victim who makes a false claim of abuse. Friends or family members may make false claims of abuse because they do not approve of the relationship. A mother may be trying to convince her daughter that her daughter's boyfriend is no good. The daughter may not listen and continue to date the boyfriend. As a way to break up the relationship, the mother may falsely claim the boyfriend is abusing her daughter. The police response may be to make the arrest first and worry about evidence later.
Obtain a Domestic Violence Visa to Avoid Deportation
Getting legal status to stay in the U.S. can be difficult. Many people come into the U.S. unlawfully to find work or to follow a partner. With temporary or unlawful status, there is always a risk of removal proceedings or deportation. However, victims of domestic violence may be able to seek legal status based on the abuse.
A Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) visa is a way for an immigrant to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) if they are the victim of battery or extreme cruelty committed by a U.S. citizen spouse, former spouse, parent, or child, or by an LPR spouse, former spouse, or parent. Similarly, a U visa is available for victims of certain crimes who help law enforcement investigate or prosecute criminal activity.
A false claim of domestic could be used as a basis for seeking one of these visas.
Make Up for Past Abuse
The alleged victim may actually have suffered abuse at the hands of the accused before. However, they may have failed to report it but later regretted their decision. As a way to get back at the accused, the alleged victim may exaggerate the abuse, claim it occurred more often than it did, or make up current or recent abuse that never occurred.
If someone committed abuse in the past, they should have to face their actions. However, someone should not be accused of false crimes based on exaggerated claims. The alleged victim may go so far as to change photos to make injuries look more serious or change the dates of the photos to make them appear more recent.
In some situations, the person making the domestic violence allegations may be mentally ill. The accuser may be unable to tell fantasy from reality, believing that they were a victim of violence or witnessed violence against another person. Their mental illness may even make them more convincing to the police because they actually believe they were abused. Stressful events, like a divorce or break-up, can exacerbate existing mental disorders.
For example, schizophrenia is a disorder that affects a person's ability to think, feel, and behave clearly. Symptoms may include delusions and hallucinations. Paranoid schizophrenia can be associated with the person feeling extremely suspicious and persecuted. Even if the false claims of abuse sound bizarre, the courts may take action in favor of the alleged victim and arrest the suspect.
How Do You Challenge False Domestic Violence Claims?
Many cases of alleged violence come down to “he said, she said.” There may be no physical evidence of abuse. A criminal prosecution may come down to who the jury believes. Unfortunately, many people who are falsely accused still plead guilty because they are worried that the jury will believe the alleged victim. Before pleading guilty to a serious crime, you should talk to your criminal defense lawyer to better understand your options.
Experienced Domestic Violence Defense Attorney in Charlottesville, VA
If you are falsely accused of domestic violence in Virginia, contact Bryan J. Jones today. Virginia prosecutors are already working on their case against you, so it is important to get started on your defense as soon as possible.