Domestic violence is a serious problem. Disagreements can spiral out of control, leading to threats of violence and physical confrontation. The law takes domestic violence seriously and imposes significant consequences on offenders.
But these consequences can encourage domestic partners to make false allegations of domestic violence. An accuser could exaggerate to the police officers responding to a domestic disturbance call. The accuser could fabricate a case of domestic violence despite no other supporting evidence.
Here are the things you should know about domestic violence accusations and the ways that a criminal defense attorney can help you defend against them.
Distinguishing Fact from Fiction in Domestic Violence Accusations
Whether it is fueled by anger, drugs, or alcohol, assaulting a domestic partner is illegal under Texas law. No one should be subjected to violence inside or outside the home.
If your partner accuses you of domestic violence and the police arrest you, you may need to face some hard facts about your behavior. Texas’s domestic violence laws include physical violence, along with threatening, throwing objects, and pushing.
Defenses Against Factual Domestic Violence Accusations
If your conduct falls within the scope of Texas’s domestic violence laws, you will need to defend yourself against a factual allegation of domestic violence. Accusing your partner of making a false report will only erode your credibility in the eyes of the judge and jury.
Domestic assault charges can arise if you:
- Cause bodily injury
- Threaten immediate bodily injury
- Make provocative or offensive physical contact, like pushing
If your actions fall within the definition of assault, you have two primary defenses.
Lack of Intent
Texas law requires the perpetrator to intentionally commit the assault. Bear in mind that you do not need to intend to harm the victim. Instead, the prosecution must only show that you intended to take the action alleged in the assault report.
For example, if you throw a cup at your partner and miss, that is assault. Likewise, if you throw a cup at the wall and hit your partner with broken shards of glass, that is also assault. In both cases, you intended to throw the cup.
Conversely, if you slip on a puddle and fall onto your partner, that is not assault. You did not intend to tackle your partner.
Under Texas’s self-defense statute, you are allowed to use proportional force to protect yourself from unlawful force. Self-defense has many limitations. For example, to use force in self-defense, you cannot provoke the other person. Also, you cannot use force to respond to verbal provocation.
But in domestic violence cases in which you used force or threats of force, you can assert self-defense. This defense applies if your partner started the fight, and you only used enough force to stop the attack.
Defenses Against False Domestic Violence Accusations
If you genuinely did not take any action that falls within the Texas assault statute, the domestic violence accusation is false. Defending against false accusations will take time and effort.
Your criminal defense lawyer will need to investigate the witness statements and physical evidence that support the prosecution’s case.
Some of the options your defense lawyer will have to overcome a false accusation of domestic violence include:
Inconsistency Between Evidence and Testimony
The police might not have any evidence for a false accusation aside from the victim’s accusation. For example, if nothing is broken in your home and your partner shows no signs of physical assault, you might have enough to create reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors.
Similarly, your lawyer might find that the neighbors did not hear yelling. Perhaps they heard yelling but no physical altercation. This might contradict your partner’s testimony that you committed assault.
And in many cases, security video or doorbell video might show at least part of the alleged crime. If your lawyer can show the jury that your accuser’s story does not match the video, the accuser’s credibility will be diminished.
Inconsistency in the Testimony
In a false accusation, your accuser’s story might change to cover up holes in the story. If the alleged victim tells the police one story but tells a different story at trial, your lawyer will pick apart the victim’s testimony and expose the inconsistencies.
Similarly, a prosecution witness might claim to have witnessed something they could not have heard or seen. For example, your partner might testify the argument occurred on the second floor of your home. But your neighbor might claim to have seen you fighting in the car. This inconsistency might call both witnesses into question.
Police officers are human, and they make mistakes. One big mistake in domestic violence cases occurs when the police make decisions based on their biases rather than the evidence.
For example, your lawyer might find that the police officers believed your accuser because of your gender or race. If the police investigation turned up no evidence of domestic violence, but you were still arrested due to bias, the jury might acquit you.
Interests of the Accuser and Witnesses
The accuser might have something to gain by falsely accusing you of domestic violence. It may benefit a divorce proceeding, custody hearing, or extramarital affair if you are out of the picture. Your accuser could also falsely accuse you of domestic violence as revenge or to cover up their abusive actions.
The alleged victim might conspire with friends or relatives to concoct a false accusation against you. These witnesses might support the false allegation with made-up stories about you.
If your lawyer can expose their interest in falsely accusing you of domestic violence or their animus against you, a jury might acquit you.
The Role of the Criminal Defense Lawyer in Domestic Violence Cases
Your lawyer’s goal is to get the best possible outcome for your case. If the domestic violence accusation has some merit, your lawyer will fight for a fair outcome based on what happened. For example, if the prosecution brought charges based on threats rather than actual violence, a fair outcome might include probation and counseling.
If the domestic violence accusation is false, your lawyer will work toward a dismissal of the charges or acquittal at trial. By investigating your case and challenging the prosecution’s evidence, you and your lawyer will have the ammunition you need to fight a domestic violence accusation.