Thousands of people are wrongfully accused of domestic violence and assault every year, due — at least in part — to “victim-centered investigations.” According to SAVE, an organization dedicated to reforming policies to protect both abuse victims and the wrongfully accused, victim-centered investigations are leading to wrongful convictions because they focus only on corroborating an alleged victim’s story instead of objectively investigating the evidence.
With this in mind, there are some important steps you will want to take to protect yourself during an investigation if you have been wrongfully accused of domestic abuse.
- Keep your distance. Even if you haven’t been legally ordered to stay away from the alleged victim, you will only be putting yourself at risk of additional accusations if you call, visit, text or otherwise stay in contact with that person. If you must communicate, have a witness present.
- Retain any notes, messages or other exchanges between you and the other party. This evidence can be critical in identifying tone, confirming times of communications and documenting any statements from the other party that might contradict his or her original accusations.
- Comply with police and legal orders. Ignoring restraining orders, missing court dates, assaulting police, or losing your temper during an arrest for something that you know is made up will not help your situation. It will only make you look volatile and potentially violent.
- Consult an attorney as soon as possible. There are numerous resources and parties in place to help alleged victims of abuse, but the same cannot necessarily be said for victims of wrongful allegations of abuse. Having an attorney by your side can level the playing field and protect your rights during and following an investigation for domestic assault.
Being accused of something you did not do — especially when it is a violent offense — can be devastating and scary. However, it can be crucial that you try to stay calm, think carefully before you act and understand your rights.