Helping Both Victims of Domestic Violence and Those Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence
Get Justice in Domestic Violence, Criminal and Family Court.
You've just been formally, legally accused of domestic violence.
You have no criminal record whatsoever.
You haven't done anything.
You may be the real victim of domestic violence.
But you never called your abuser to account.
You may be going through a divorce.
Or, your spouse may know, you are about to go through a divorce.
Or you may be arguing with an ex-lover about parenting or timesharing issues concerning your kids.
However you got here, it doesn't really matter right now.
You are here.
You need to understand what legal processes have been or are going to be unleashed against you.
Unfortunately, often, it's more than one.
You need to start preparing your defenses.
No matter what your accuser may now tell you privately.
Your accuser accused you.
The help you need now can come only from an attorney.
The first thing you need to understand is that there are two separate legal mechanisms for alleged perpetrators of domestic violence.
Your accuser may elect to go after you with "just" one - either one, as they choose - or both.
Despite their similarities, they are two different legal processes, requiring different responses, having different procedures, imposing different legal burdens on you and, most importantly, carrying different legal consequences.
The first legal process is considered a civil process.
The process typically begins with you being served by a sheriff with a Temporary Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence, or a Temporary Injunction for Protection against Repeat Violence, or a Temporary Injunction for Protection against Sexual Violence, or a Temporary Injunction for Protection against Dating Violence.
Your accuser may typically have one of these entered against you without your knowledge.
Just by going down to the courthouse and filling out some papers.
Your accuser may not even have to appear before a judge.
But, within a couple of weeks or so, you will have a hearing - or trial - before a judge, not a jury.
If your accuser wishes, your accuser will be represented by a free Legal Aid attorney who practices primarily domestic violence law.
If your accuser prevails, you may be subject to an Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence, or an Injunction for Protection against Repeat Violence, or an Injunction for Protection against Sexual Violence, or an Injunction for Protection against Dating Violence.
This type of Injunction is a special type of court order that prohibits you from having any contact with your accuser - and may restrict your contact with any children you have together with your accuser.
If your accuser prevails, you will likely have to leave the home you share with your accuser.
Your "guilt" need not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge merely has to believe that your accuser is either the victim of domestic violence or has reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence.
A violation of this type of injunction may lead to police involvement and prosecution by law enforcement.
Even if your accuser tells you it is OK.
Only a judge can make it OK, by dissolving or, possibly, modifying the injunction.
You, as the accused, are not entitled to a Legal Aid attorney or other court-appointed attorney.
If the police came to the scene of any alleged incident of domestic violence, be sure to get a copy of the police report as soon as it becomes available - typically ten days later.
The second legal process is a criminal process.
It is a criminal prosecution for one of several possible domestic violence criminal charges or crimes.
While the case is going on, there will generally be a court order that prohibits you from having any contact with your accuser.
No matter what your accuser tells you, do not violate that no contact order.
Your accuser cannot make it OK.
Only a judge can make it OK, by dissolving or, possibly, modifying the no contact order.
You will be entitled to a trial by a jury of your peers.
Your accuser's case will be mounted by an assistant state attorney who is on your accuser's side. Your accuser will also have a domestic violence advocate furnished through the state attorney's office, to help your accuser maintain their focus on prosecuting you.
If your accuser prevails, the worst case scenario is that you may be sentenced to jail.
Lesser consequences are also possibilities.
Even if your accuser does not prevail, you will still have a criminal history.
This could affect your employability and social standing.
You may be able to eliminate that criminal history at a later date by initiating another legal process, but it will not happen automatically.
As you can see, either of the two processes by which someone may accuse you of domestic violence may have serious consequences for your life.
And if your accuser decides to shoot at you "with both barrels", well, you will certainly have your hands full.
If your income is low enough, you may be eligible for legal representation by the staff of the Public Defender's office.
Although they have many capable, experienced attorneys, they are all carrying very heavy caseloads and seriously overworked .
If you are arrested, be sure to get a copy of the police report as soon as it becomes available - typically ten days later.
You can find much more FREE legal information about Domestic Violence Law