In 2022, allegations of physical and sexual violence against women are taken much more seriously than they used to be. This is a positive development from a victims’ rights perspective. But could it also lead to people getting arrested, charged and even convicted based on untrue accusations.
The data on how many domestic violence accusations turn out to be false in the U.S. is unclear. But even conservative estimates for allegations of child abuse state that at least 2 percent — and as many as 35 percent — of such claims made in child custody disputes are false. According to the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence, accusations made in family law proceedings are false about one-quarter to one-third of the time. And in a 2020 survey conducted by YouGov, 8 percent of responders reported having been falsely accused of some form of domestic abuse, with 17 percent saying they knew someone who had experienced false claims of domestic violence.
Possible consequences of fake domestic assault charges
While the majority of domestic violence criminal charges are likely backed by solid evidence, false accusations do happen. The accused could face a restraining order that forces them out of their home and separates them from their children. If convicted, they could be sentenced to jail or prison, depending on if the charge is misdemeanor or felony level. Then there is the stigma that tends to follow someone who has been accused of this crime, even if they are never convicted.
Your best chance to avoid a wrongful conviction is to contact a defense attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can be present at police questioning, work to get you out of jail and represent you at hearings related to a possible restraining order.