Every day in the Greater Houston area, dozens of people are accused of domestic violence, which is known as assault-family violence under Texas law. The reality is that when a person calls 911 to report an alleged domestic violence incident, most likely someone is going to jail. Unfortunately, a significant number of domestic violence cases are false accusations. This post discusses false accusations of domestic violence and how to protect yourself if you are the victim of a false accusation.
There are no statistics regarding the number of false accusations of domestic violence in the Houston area. But police officers and criminal defense attorneys understand that false accusations occur at a higher rate than many people assume. The motives for false accusations of domestic violence can vary. Sometimes a false accusation will be made in the context of a divorce or custody dispute, perhaps to attempt to gain the upper hand. Sometimes an accusation will be made to control a defendant in some way (if a defendant is on probation, for example, a significant other can use the threat of an accusation, which would cause the defendant’s probation to be revoked, to control him). Other times, an undocumented person might make a false allegation to gain legal status under the u-visa program.
Whatever the reasons for the false accusation, there are several things that can be done to defend yourself, beginning with the actions you take when the police arrive. When law enforcement arrives at the scene to investigate a domestic violence incident, their training teaches them to attempt to get a statement from all the parties. But unfortunately, it is very rare that law enforcement officers arrive at the scene of an alleged incident with an open mind. The reality is that they arrive under the assumption that whatever the alleged victim is claiming is the truth.
Even if you have been falsely accused and are wanting to tell your side, it is almost always a bad idea to talk to the police. If the police have enough evidence to arrest you (and in an assault-family violence case all they need is allegation), it is nearly impossible that you will say anything to change their mind. On the other hand, if the police lack the necessary evidence, then by cooperating, you risk giving them whatever evidence they were lacking. The police will do what they will and you can rarely control the outcome of their investigation.
Rather than make your situation more difficult by talking to the police, it is important to think about actions that you can take to protect yourself. In domestic violence cases, it is not uncommon for the victim to attack the defendant first, and cause the defendant to protect himself. In these cases, it is very important to attempt to document the physical injuries a defendant might have sustained. You should take photographs of all of the injuries on subsequent days, ideally holding a newspaper showing the date visible in the photograph. In a domestic violence case, photographic evidence consistent with the defense’s theory can be powerful evidence, but this must be preserved to help expose a false allegation.
Similarly, if there are any text or voicemail messages that might be helpful to you (perhaps showing the alleged victim’s aggressive behavior or willingness to get you in trouble), these should be preserved immediately.
If the alleged domestic violence incident occurred somewhere where there are cameras, you should act fast to preserve them. Cameras in bars, restaurants, or shopping centers are typically not preserved for more than a few weeks. If you believe this footage may be helpful to you, a domestic violence defense attorney can help you send a court order that will allow your team to obtain it. You should tell your defense attorney right away if there are other witnesses to the alleged incident who may be able to give you a helpful statement. In some cases, it is important to act quickly to take statements from witnesses.
The consequences of an assault-family violence conviction can be severe and long-lasting, so it is critical that you act fast to protect yourself against a false accusation of domestic violence. If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence anywhere in the Houston area, Ceja Law Firm is an excellent choice. Call today to schedule a free consultation.