According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four women and one in nine men in the U.S.
have been victims of domestic violence.
In New Jersey, the legal definition of domestic violence is when an
adult or emancipated minor who has a relationship to you (spouse, former
spouse, household member, someone who shares a child with you, or someone you
are dating) commits one of the following crimes against you:
- Terroristic threats
- Criminal restraint
- False imprisonment
- Sexual assault
- Criminal sexual contact
- Criminal mischief
- Criminal trespass
- Cyber harassment
- Criminal coercion
- Contempt of a domestic violence order
- Any other crime involving risk of death or serious bodily injury
New Jersey State Police statistics show that a domestic violence incident happens every 7 minutes, 29 seconds in New Jersey. Unfortunately, there are also false reports of domestic violence — a true disservice to the real victims of this crime — that are typically made by someone hoping to gain an advantage in child custody disputes or as leverage in divorce proceedings. When a temporary restraining order is issued based on false allegations, the accused becomes the victim and often has to go to court to clear his or her name.
To avoid being falsely accused of domestic violence or to help disprove false allegations, here are some tips you can follow:
Record your interactions. Use a body camera or your cell phone to record all your interactions with the actual or potential accuser. You should only do this as a preventive measure to protect yourself; recording someone with their knowledge under some circumstances could be considered harassment or stalking under the law. If you can’t video record, use audio recording — it is not as valuable as video evidence, but is better than nothing at all to help substantiate your claims.
Avoid your accuser. Try to avoid being in the presence of your accuser as much as possible to prevent arguments from breaking out that could cause you to say something that could be used by the accuser against you. This may be difficult if you still live in the same home or share custody of your children; if that is the case, then you need to be extremely vigilant about your interactions.
Communicate in writing. If possible, communicate only using email or text messaging. If you communicate via phone, your accuser could claim you made harassing statements or threats. Unless you recorded the call, a judge will have to decide who to believe.
Avoid inflammatory statements. Don’t make any statements in front of your accuser or another person that could be misconstrued as threatening. Even things said in jest can be misinterpreted by others and you could find yourself having to defend those comments in court.
We know that family law issues are often difficult, life-changing events. We also know how much it helps to have knowledgeable legal advocates on your side to help you obtain the best possible outcome. Contact us today for your free consultation.