While physical violence is a serious issue, so are false accusations of bodily harm. But not every single allegation is true. If you've just been handed a temporary restraining order (sometimes called an order of protection), you're probably angry, embarrassed, and a little scared. What do you do? Is there even a way to fight the charges, when it seems like it was so easy for someone to go into court and make up or exaggerate a tale of violence?
Don't Compound Your Problem By Trying To Talk To Your Accuser
While there are numerous ways to defend against false allegations, the one option you don't have is to try talking to your accuser. Doing so will probably put you in direct violation of the restraining order, which can subject you to further charges and jail time. Don't do it.
From this point forward, all of your communication with your accuser needs to go through your attorney, until your attorney tells you otherwise.
You may find yourself in a situation where your accuser tries to bait you into breaking the restraining order. He or she may contact you and ask to meet for some important reason. Keep a record of the attempt, but don't respond and don't meet with your accuser. No matter how important it is, you need to let your attorney handle the issue, rather than violate the restraining order and end up in jail.
If this happens, your record of the contact will be an important part of your defense. If your accuser were really afraid of you, he or she wouldn't be asking you to meet somewhere.
Your Attorney Will Look For Ways To Challenge The Allegations
There are several ways that your attorney can challenge false allegations of abuse, depending on your situation. They include:
- showing that your accuser's statements or actions have been inconsistent, such as contacting you since the alleged abuse.
- exposing a lack of evidence in the form of witnesses, photographs, email, or text messages that point toward abuse or threats of harm.
- challenging allegations that aren't specific, like those that don't include dates or times.
- proving factual problems with the allegations. For instance, you may be able to prove that you were at a gas station across town when the alleged violence happened, or that bruises in a photograph were from an accident several days prior to the alleged incident.
- exposing the accuser's motivation to lie about physical violence.
- showing the trivial or unintentional nature of the alleged issue. For example, accidentally bumping into your accuser in your haste to exit a building during a fight isn't the same as intentionally shoving him or her into a wall.
- demonstrating the inability of the accuser to meet a burden of proof over the accusations.
The key thing to remember is that between the moment that you're handed the temporary restraining order and the moment of your hearing, you want to be very careful not to give your accuser any ammunition that can be used against you.
As difficult as it is to get through an event like this, stay calm and remain professional in all of your dealing with your accuser. Because of the situation, even your very understandable anger at being falsely accused can be seen as "evidence" that you have anger-control issues. Contact an attorney, like Medeiros & Associates, for further information.