State and federal law enforcement take seriously the allegations of domestic abuse, and rightfully so. Too often, the stronger person in a relationship or family uses physical abuse to control the lives of the others, causing pain and often lifelong scars. For this reason, police act quickly, and the courts respond decisively based on the lowest standard of law.
However, what happens when those allegations of abuse are exaggerated or unfounded? Unfortunately, for many who are involved in family law disputes, false claims of domestic abuse can have far-reaching consequences.
Manipulating the system
When you think of abuse, you probably imagine the worst: physical battery that leaves bruises and broken bones or verbal intimidation that causes psychological damage. In a relationship that is under the strain of separation, divorce or custody issues, even the most innocent gesture may become evidence of domestic violence. If your spouse understands the severe ramifications of allegations that you are abusive, he or she may be tempted to use the swift and harsh response of the courts to manipulate the outcome.
Since the federal and Arizona laws regarding domestic violence have a broader definition than those of other violent crimes, you may face serious criminal charges for any of the following:
- Using intimidating language
- Blocking the doorway to prevent your spouse from leaving the room
- Raising your voice in anger
If your spouse claims that any of these actions created an environment of intimidation or caused him or her to feel unsafe, police may have no choice but to arrest you and remove you from the home immediately.
The consequences of a domestic violence charge
With little evidence beyond your spouse's word, a judge has the authority to issue an emergency protective order, which prevents you from returning to your home to gather your things, see your children or make any contact with your spouse, even through a third party. Violating this order may result in your immediate incarceration.
Of course, you can imagine the damage this will have on your efforts to obtain custody of your children. With a court order forbidding contact with your kids because of alleged domestic violence, no judge is likely to consider allowing you a fair division of custody. Dealing with allegations of domestic abuse swiftly is the best recommendation. A skilled attorney can work to minimize the damage caused by unfounded charges of violence.