How to Prevent False Accusations of Domestic Violence or Disprove them Once They are Made
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), one in four women – and one in nine men – were victims of domestic violence based on data from NISVS is an ongoing survey that collects state and national data on intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking.
Admittedly, domestic violence is a major problem in our society and it is necessary that we continue to take steps to prevent domestic violence. However, on occasion, false accusations of domestic violence are made by one party against another for the purpose of gaining an advantage in existing or anticipated custody litigation, for leverage in a divorce proceeding, or for other reasons.
Furthermore, if a litigant obtains a TRO against another litigant based on false accusations, it is unlikely that the accused will be able to effectively disprove the allegations without having to incur the substantial cost of engaging in a trial.
The following are just a few tips to avoid falsely being accused of domestic violence or to effectively disprove the false allegations of domestic violence once a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is obtained against you:
- Purchase a body camera to wear on your person when in the presence of the accuser. If there is some reason why a body camera is not feasible, record any interactions you have with the anticipated accuser with the camera on your cell phone. Having video of your interactions with your estranged spouse, disgruntled girlfriend or boyfriend, or other such anticipated accuser will help to avoid false allegations of domestic violence or enable you to disprove them once made. Please keep in mind that you should only record the other party where necessary to protect yourself since video recording another person without his or her knowledge under certain circumstances could be considered stalking or harassment under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.
- If you cannot video record, audio record any interactions between you and your anticipated accuser. Audio recordings are clearly not as valuable as video recordings, however an audio recording may be instrumental in disproving allegations once made.
- Avoid the anticipated false accuser at all times unless necessary if you reside in the same home, have to interact with each other to care for your children together, or for other reasons that cause you to have to interact. Getting into arguments can cause people to say hurtful things and even though making such statements may not rise to the level of domestic violence, such statements may be used by the accuser in support of other false allegations of domestic violence.
- Communicate with the anticipated accuser only via email or text message where possible. If you engage in telephone calls with your anticipated accuser, the call log can be produced and unless you recorded the telephone discussion, the anticipated accuser could claim that you made harassing statements to him or her during the phone call. If so, whether you made or did not make harassing statements during the telephone discussion with your accuser will be based upon whether the Judge believes you or believes your accuser.
- Avoid making any statements in the presence of your accuser or anyone else that could be misconstrued. If you make a statement that is not a serious statement or is made in jest in the presence of someone else and that statement is contained in the complaint for domestic violence, that person could be called at trial to testify as to the statements you made. And again, whether you really meant what you said of if you made statements in jest would be left for the judge to decide at trial.
Without a doubt, as stated before, domestic violence is a serious problem in our society. That being said, unfortunately there are litigants who have made false allegations of domestic violence which have trivialized the plight of true victims of domestic violence and have misused the legislative vehicle which was developed to protect them. Corrente v. Corrente, 281 N.J.Super. 243, 250 (App. Div. 1995).
New Jersey Domestic Violence Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, PC Have Extensive Experience with Domestic Violence Matters
If you or someone you know has a question regarding domestic violence, then please call the skilled family and divorce lawyers in New Jersey at Lyons & Associates. At the law office of Lyons & Associates, we represent men and women throughout New Jersey who have unresolved family law matters. We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us online or call our offices at 908-575-9777.
Written By: Mark T. Gabriel, Esq.