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What You Should Do If You’re Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence

Posted by Joseph Tully | Jun 30, 2017

Domestic violence is a serious issue – but up to 80 percent of domestic violence accusations have no merit. That means the overwhelming majority of domestic violence defendants appearing in Contra Costa County are completely innocent. A domestic violence conviction can ruin your life, so it's crucial to take immediate action. That means contacting an attorney to defend your rights.

Misdemeanors and Felonies

In California, domestic violence may consist of a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances. Even a domestic violence misdemeanor conviction means the permanent loss of gun rights, as per federal law. You could end up losing everything, including your job and home. Even if the accuser recants – which happens frequently – the prosecution still goes forward. For U.S. permanent residents, let alone those who are undocumented, a conviction may result in deportation.

Do's and Don'ts

Do not speak to the police without your attorney present. You may think you can easily explain the situation to law enforcement – it's so obvious to you that your partner has issues – but it rarely works that way in real life. Remember that anything you say can be used against you, and your lawyer is there to make sure you don't cross a line.

If possible, do not speak to or have any contact with the person accusing you. If the individual contacts you via text or email, do not reply but show the message to your attorney. At this point, the lawyers must handle the situation.

If you cannot avoid having some sort of contact with the person accusing you, such when you must pick up your child, always have a third party with you. The third party might also record the contact on his or her phone. Have as little interaction with the accuser as possible and do not respond to any provocations.

As soon as possible, write down what happened during the incident to the best of your recollection. You want the details fresh in your mind.

Do not violate any aspect of the restraining order, even if it seems trivial. It is essential that you stick to the restraining order's requirements absolutely. If you have any questions, contact your lawyer.

Change your personal passwords and usernames on your social media, email, cellphone and other important accounts if your accuser has access to this information. You don't want the person to start sending malicious texts from your accounts pretending that they are from you.

Collect Evidence

Often, a domestic violence accusation is just one person's word against another's, with nothing in the way of real evidence. Under California law, domestic violence doesn't need to equate with physical contact, so whether or not the accuser has any physical injuries is immaterial.

However, many times there is evidence that a person intends to make a phony domestic violence allegation. That's especially true in the midst of a divorce or breakup where child custody is involved. A domestic violence allegation – not necessarily a conviction – can quash your chances of getting custody, and the other parent knows that.

If you're in the midst of a nasty breakup, you may have evidence of your ex's mindset in old texts and emails. If the other person threatens to harm you over custody or a divorce settlement, that's a text or email your lawyer really needs to see. If you recall such a message but deleted it, go online to find out how to restore deleted messages on a particular phone or system or contact a technician specializing in those

If the accuser has ever made similar threats against another party, let your lawyer know.

If you have evidence that you were not present during the time the accuser says the domestic violence incident occurred, or information the accuser gave the police is false, hunt that evidence down. That may include cell phone records, if the accuser referenced phone calls you didn't make, or timed receipts from any place of business coinciding with the period in question.

If you have witnesses who can swear you were with them during that time, find them and provide your attorney with their contact information.

An Experienced Domestic Violence Attorney Makes All the Difference

In California, a person falsely accused of domestic violence has the odds stacked against them. An experienced domestic violence attorney lowers those odds, and may even negotiate with the District Attorney before charges are filed. Whether you live in Concord, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Orinda or beyond Contra Costa County, the law offices of Tully & Weiss can help. 925.229.9700 or Email Us

About the Author

Joseph Tully

Founding Partner, Criminal Law Specialist Our founding attorney, Joseph Tully, is sought out for his expert legal advice throughout California. With over 20 years of experience as a criminal lawyer, in 1000+ felony and other cases, Tully served as felony trial counsel as a public defender before...