False claims of domestic violence are distressing and unfair.
Some people use these claims strategically to take revenge or gain an advantage in a child custody battle.
Even worse, sometimes it is the abuser who initiates charges against the person they have abused.
There are several implications of false domestic violence claims: as well as criminal charges being brought against an innocent person, there may potentially be an accompanying Apprehended Violence Order (“AVO”) which could limit access to property and / or children.
Because there is potentially a lot at stake, you will need to consider your options carefully if a false claim of domestic violence is made against you.
Just like in any case, if you intend on pleading innocent, the burden of proof will be on the prosecution – it is up to them to prove that you committed the crime, not for you prove that you didn’t.
While it is possible to ‘put the prosecution to proof’ which means simply forcing the prosecution to prove you are guilty, putting together a defence is usually the better course.
By the first time your ‘domestic violence’ assault case goes to court, the police are required to give you a ‘mini brief’ containing:
- A copy of the alleged facts,
- Any statements from the complainant(s)
- Any criminal antecedents (your criminal history, if any)
- A Court Attendance Notice (CAN)
Any further prosecution materials will need to be provided to you at least 14 days before the day of any defended hearing.
That material might include any police statements, transcripts of interviews, photos, any call charge records etc.
After receiving this information, go through the police facts, looking for any problems in their case – such as weak evidence; or lying and dishonesty on the part of the complainant. It is especially helpful if you can disprove the claims through gathering your own materials.
Collect any evidence you think is relevant, including any relevant photos, medical materials and especially any statements from witnesses that can back up your story.
But bear in mind that those witnesses will need to attend court on the hearing date to give their testimony in person.
It is a good idea to see a criminal defence lawyer early on in the piece, as they may be able to advise you about how to get the case dropped or, if it goes ahead, how to get certain evidence thrown out because it is unfairly prejudicial, or illegally or improperly obtained.
Police are not required to produce any criminal record of their witnesses unless you are able to successfully apply for them to be produced by filing a ‘subpoena’.
Keep this in mind, as the criminal record of the complainant or any other police prosecution witnesses may be important for your case.
Try not to get too stressed or let the case overwhelm you, and make sure that you attend all court dates, no matter how nervous you might be.
Be aware that if you fail to appear in court, you could end up finding that you have been convicted in your absence and that a warrant has been issued for your arrest.
While the number of people who represent themselves in court is rising, if you are facing false claims of domestic violence, it is highly advisable to get a specialist criminal lawyer.
Issues that come up at a defended hearing are not always straightforward and rules relating to evidence can be complex and difficult to understand.
The stakes could be very high and a matter involving not only your liberty but potentially contact with any children and financial matters should not be left to chance.
Fortunately, a specialist criminal lawyer who is experienced in dealing with domestic violence cases will be able to help.
Going to court to fight false claims of domestic violence may seem daunting, but it is definitely possible to beat the charges.
A good lawyer will be able to point out all your options and advise you on the best way to proceed.
They can do all the legal work for you and ensure that your case runs as smoothly as possible.
Fighting a domestic violence case is stressful enough, without having to try and work out the law and defend yourself alone.
A good lawyer will aim to have the case dealt with as quickly as possible, sometimes before it reaches the courtroom!
It may be possible for your lawyer to convince police to drop charges against you, letting you get on with the rest of your life, hassle free.
To find out what a lawyer can do for you, ask around friends and relatives for recommendations.
Many law firms offer free first consultations so you can get an idea about cost and what they may be able to achieve for you.