What To Do FirstYour first steps should be:
- Stay calm.
- Understand the law.
- Protect yourself.
- Get legal help.
Stay CalmAlthough it’s difficult to stay calm in an emotionally charged situation, keeping a cool head is your best immediate response. Don’t counter with threats or false allegations of your own. Don’t allow your emotions to keep you from taking the necessary steps to clear your name.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence in Texas?The Texas Penal Code defines domestic violence as any physical act that “(1) intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse; (2) intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse; or (3) intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.”
The law applies to spouses, children, relatives, foster children, foster parents, people living in the same house, and people in dating relationships.
Getting a ConvictionTo get a conviction, a prosecutor must prove the defendant committed the act intentionally. If the act resulted in physical injury, the prosecutor must show the defendant’s actions were reckless.
The penalties for a domestic violence conviction are serious. In Texas, they can range from a misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up one year in jail, to a first-degree felony, which carries a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison term of 5 to 99 years.
Take Steps To Protect YourselfUnderstand what you’re facing. A person who accuses you of something as terrible as domestic violence is completely irrational or very calculating. In either case, you’re dealing with someone whose behavior is unpredictable.
Hide your passwords and personal information. Don’t allow your spouse to get access to your computer or your phone. Communicate by e-mail so you have a record of all your interactions.
Protect your valuables and important documents. Put important items in a safe place. Someone who’s vindictive enough to accuse you of a crime is vindictive enough to steal or damage your valuable property. Protect your driver’s license, passport, and legal documents. Rent a storage unit or a safe deposit box. Change the passwords of your computer, phone, and bank accounts.
Follow the “rule of three.” Some daycare centers use the “rule of three” to avoid situations that can lead to misunderstandings and false allegations. Make sure you always have a third person around to serve as a witness to any conversations or activities that involve you and the other person.
Gather your own evidence. Start gathering your own evidence of your spouse’s actions. Get documentation that shows they’re dishonest. If you experience physical abuse, get medical records. Save copies of threatening voice mails, e-mails, and texts. Get copies of phone records, work time clocks, store receipts, ATM receipts, and anything else that gives you an alibi for specific dates and times. Give your lawyer copies of everything.
Don’t agree to a plea bargain or mediation. Your desire to put everything behind you may lead you to make serious mistakes. Your goal should be to exonerate yourself. Accepting a lesser charge will not clear your name. Always consult your lawyer before you talk with the prosecution.
Move to dismiss the order of protection. If your spouse or other family member has filed an order of protection, move to have it dismissed or vacated. This is especially important if you’re in a custody fight. Follow your attorney’s advice on the best way to do this.
Hire a LawyerYou should hire a lawyer the moment you suspect your spouse may file false charges against you. An early start is always an advantage in a legal case.
The best time to fight your case is during the police department’s pre-filing investigations. If your lawyer can show there’s not enough evidence to bring charges, the state must drop the charges against you. This is the ideal outcome, but you must act quickly to make it happen.
Get Help From an Experienced Defense LawyerAt Scott Palmer Law, we have helped many people clear their names after being falsely accused of domestic violence. Like you, they were emotionally devastated. We helped them clear their names, move on, and put this ugliness behind them.
When you’re facing false accusations of abuse, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by anxiety. With a defense lawyer on your side, you can breathe easier. When you need help, call us.