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Navigating False Allegations of Domestic Violence in New Jersey: A Comprehensive Guide

False Allegations of Domestic Violence

Welcome to a crucial exploration into a legal landscape fraught with complexity – the realm of false allegations of domestic violence. In this comprehensive guide, we embark on a journey to unravel the intricacies surrounding domestic violence accusations, particularly when they are, regrettably, untrue. 

Domestic violence allegations, encompassing behaviors from physical abuse to psychological manipulation, present a formidable challenge for those accused. This blog will provide a roadmap through the legal intricacies, shedding light on strategies to overcome false accusations. Whether you find yourself on the receiving end of baseless claims or seek a deeper understanding of this complex legal territory, join us as we navigate the nuanced landscape of false allegations of domestic violence in the state of New Jersey. 

We’ll explore the diverse forms of domestic violence, the dynamics of false accusations, and legal strategies to protect oneself. From understanding the impact of domestic violence on relationships to documenting evidence and building a robust support network, this guide will equip you with the knowledge needed to navigate these challenging waters. Let’s embark on this insightful journey and gain a deeper understanding of the legal intricacies surrounding domestic violence accusations in the state of New Jersey. 

Understanding Domestic Violence 

The thing about domestic violence to understand at this stage is the acts that are complained of mirror a criminal statute and similar conduct. So the acts that can be utilized in the claim and allegation of domestic violence are homicide, assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, sexual assault, criminal sexual conduct, lewdness, criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass, harassment and stalking. Harassment, stalking and terroristic threats tend to be the most commonly utilized, so they’re important to understand and to review. A specific act needs to have been accomplished with a specific purpose. For example, harassment has to be just not annoying, but intending to actually harass, which can be a difficult thing to establish. So, understanding the basis for the claim is crucial at this stage in your preparation.  

Domestic violence can take many forms, from subtle psychological bullying to physical abuse and even homicide. It’s a pattern of behavior that one person uses to exert power and control over another in a relationship. And it’s important to understand that it’s not always the person alleging the act of domestic violence that is the victim. Often, the person making the allegations of domestic violence is actually the abuser and is alleging domestic violence for their own personal reason. Sometimes they’re incapable of understanding that they’re not the victims, but there are countless other reasons why you may get an inaccurate or a false restraining order alleged against you. 

Regardless of whether the allegations are true doesn’t necessarily mean it rises to the level of being domestic violence. And that’s an important distinction to understand because the restraining order has to provide two things: an act of domestic violence and the need for permanent protection. So whether or not you may have created an act or committed an act of domestic violence doesn’t necessarily mean that it rises to the level of needing permanent protection, and if you did something that requires permanent protection, that doesn’t necessarily mean it rises to being an act of domestic violence. So there are two components, and both need to be present, whether or not the allegations are true.  

The impact of domestic violence can be traumatic for those who experience it. It can lead to physical injury, emotional trauma, but long-term health effects, it can be difficult to overcome, but it is possible with the right tools and resources. But if you are the defendant, that doesn’t mean you’re not a victim of domestic violence. As I mentioned, quite often they’re being alleged by people that may be committing acts of domestic violence themselves. You may be the victim or the perpetrator or both. Additionally, the impact is often not just on the person alleging it. It can be the children, and it can be other family members that may be aware of it or also get involved in it. So it is a widespread issue. It doesn’t just impact the two people that are involved in a restraining order trial. 

Reasons for False Allegations 

Common false allegations of domestic violence accusations may arise as a result of the partner’s ill feeling towards you, fueled by bitterness and revenge through manipulation. They may file a false claim under the influence of others to get what they want, such as custody of children or financial gain. Misinterpretation behavior can be taken the wrong way leading to exaggerated or false claims by the accuser. Many accusers suffer from mental health disorders such as borderline personality disorders. Schizophrenia can also contribute to false allegations.  

However, the most common false allegations we see are people trying to get leverage in divorce and or custody cases or when they’re both. It is very effective because it’s very swift. Almost anybody can get a restraining order by making up egregious accusations. While the statutes do require it be certain individuals and certain types of relationships, the definition of what types of relationships qualify has been greatly expanded over the years. Additionally, they’re often being obtained late at night, on a weekend, on holidays, and they’re being processed by police officers and municipal court judges who may in certain circumstances not have the time to dive into it. 

There’s usually a preference to err on the side of caution as opposed to clarity, meaning judges and the police officers won’t dive deep into allegations to see whether or not it rises to the level or the appropriate relationship. They’ll more often grant them than not, which is very problematic because it rewards bad behavior. People who abuse the system to obtain restraining orders will learn that that conduct works and do it in the future. It often does give great leverage because it will for instance, give possession of the residence, it’ll give custody of the children. There is supposed to be a hearing within 10 days, but that almost never happens now, especially post-covid backlogs and quarantine effects on our system. So, when it starts, it doesn’t often conclude for a very long time. In some cases, fathers have had months without their children simply because of a bogus allegation, and it’s unconscionable. 

Understanding Your Rights 

Know your rights and seek legal help. It’s very challenging to handle these matters without proper legal advice. It’s essential to know your rights if you’re facing domestic violence allegations, especially if they’re untrue. An attorney can help you navigate the legal system, ensuring you’re not taken advantage of. There are many organizations and resources that can help guide you if you’re facing false allegations of domestic violence; you don’t have to do this by yourself. Again, retain legal representation because a skilled attorney can help you build a defense, document evidence, and communicate effectively without difficulty.  

Along the lines of knowing your rights, one of the most important things to know about is that you can file a cross complaint and you probably should, but of course it must be meritorious. Most of the time, if this allegation of domestic violence is untrue, that person who’s filing that false restraining order is probably committed to acts of domestic violence against the person who he or she’s filing against. So in that case, you would be able to file a cross complaint. It is very effective because first of all, it gives you a chance to voice your problems as a victim. Also, it levels the playing field a great deal when you talk about whether it’s going to be dismissed or a civil restraining order. 

There’s also an appeal process once the temporary order gets issued. You can go to the superior court judge and appeal the entry of the restraining order before its return date. You can file an appeal of the decisions like the custody award or the residence that are granted in a temporary restraining order and anything else that may have been ordered that you think is erroneous. Generally, judges are not inclined to grant appeals, primarily because they’re first issued by different judges, which complicates another judge changing it in the short term, but it also goes to the mentality of better safe than sorry, let’s make sure everybody’s protected and get to the truth later. Many people that are defendants in bogus restraining orders suffer a great deal because of that mentality, but nonetheless, it’s what you’re facing. 

Additionally, realize that you are supposed to have a return date in the trial within 10 days. Unfortunately, it’s very possible that you won’t get a trial in 10 days. Usually you get the first listing in 10 days, and that’s often virtual. Check the orders and call the court to make sure and from there it gets scheduled. It can usually be scheduled a week or two later. If there are attorneys involved, it is almost always adjourned from the first hearing, so again, you’re not going to go forward in 10 days, and once you start it’s not going to last 10 days. That’s important because if you’re considering filing a cross-complaint or an appeal, it may seem simpler to just move forward and try to get rid of the complaint facing you, but it may be lasting for a very long time and you may forfeit your rights to file a cross-complaint or an appeal if you don’t. If you expect it to be over in 10 days and it’s over in three months, you’re going to regret those choices.  

Consulting A NJ Domestic Violence Restraining Order Attorney 

Always consult with an attorney to discuss all the repercussions of the restraining order. Find out what advice they have to offer you. You can get some steps as to what you need to do. If you can’t afford to bring one to trial, you at least want to know how to prepare, you want to know to expect, you want to find out if there’s going to be a criminal case that could follow because it’s a separate court system and a different burden. Restraining orders are family matters, but quite often criminal complaints do follow them. You want to understand what the presumption of sole custody is in regards to a final restraining order. You want to understand the repercussions of having one issued against you. There will be travel restrictions, potential criminal cases, potential future contempt charges in family court for this restraining order, etc. So it’s not just this one hearing that you need to worry about, and that’s why you desperately need to get legal advice. You want to also know about the discovery or the exchange of information. Typically in domestic violence cases, there is none, but considering the process has now become one that is much more elongated than has historically been, more judges are allowing exchange of information which will definitely help you prepare your defense. 

You’ll also want to know about amending restraining orders once they’re issued, whether it’s the one against you or the one that you filed in a cross-complaint. Most of the time they are improperly completed because they’re done by court staff or police officers. It used to be you had to amend it prior to the date of trial and serve it. Then the law developed that if it was amended during the trial, it could be adjourned. So you could prepare a proper defense. Now, some judges say that it could be pretty much amended at any time during trial. This means you can go through an entire trial and, at the conclusion, the person who filed the case can bring in new allegations. This is horrible because you’re preparing the whole time based on the allegations that are being set forth in court, and all of a sudden out of left field come new allegations you didn’t know anything about. 

But, if you happen to have a cross complaint, knowing this is also going to be helpful. You can do the same thing, and you should do the same thing because it’s provided. If you don’t bring it up in an amendment, you can’t mention it in court and you can’t rely on documenting evidence and establishing an alibi. 

Collecting Evidence for the Case 

Document your activities, document your whereabouts, conversations and other relevant data and details to establish a consistent pattern of behavior. Keep records of text messages, emails, social media posts and phone calls. However, you have to know that you cannot have any contact with the person who follows a restraining order against you, at least while the order is in place. So I usually recommend people go into their social media accounts and take the other person off of any accounts as well as any connected people. For example, you may have children together, and your children’s accounts will have the other parent. And when you’re putting messages up there, not only are you possibly having contact with them at least indirectly, but the statements you’ll be making could later be utilized or claimed to have been violations of the order intended to harass. So go and take those down. But as far as your conduct, your behavior, your text messages, you want to keep copies of them. You want to go back and see what documents you have for when you were places where you were. Consider your alibi, being mindful of timestamps. Pay attention to timestamps on the documents, including receipts, photos, and witness statements. It can help establish an alibi and provide a clear picture of your activity at the time of the alleged incident along that line. Also look at things that are newer, information that may not have always been available like metadata on your photographs. Computer IP addresses are becoming more prevalent in court because they’re easier to obtain. So you can show where you were, where information was coming from, whether it was in fact your computer, your IP address, whether or not the picture is accurate.  

Keep in mind, as artificial intelligence is creeping quickly into this, people will believe information to be accurate and documents to be truthful, but there’s an ability to tamper and modify information. You can take a picture and remove the person from one picture and place it into another. So for instance, if you have a picture of your spouse at a restaurant, you can take that and change it so that person’s now in a bar and provide it as evidence. Obviously that’s fraudulent, but you have to be aware that people have this ability now and judges aren’t usually that technologically savvy because they’re not using it. They’re not using technology day to day, they’re not following the development of artificial intelligence. So you need to understand it better. You may need to have an expert come in to understand it, but be aware of it and be prepared to examine whatever’s being offered as far as timestamps and text messages and social media posts and the like.  

And lastly, with regard to documenting evidence: get witness statements if possible, get statements from people who may have witnessed the alleged incident or could provide additional information. Credible witnesses who support you can go a long way in helping you improve your case. Keep in mind first though, getting a statement from somebody who’s not admissible at the trial, absent extenuating circumstances, they’re not admissible. You want to get the statement so that you know that they’re on your side and you want it to be in writing, possibly even notarized, but you can’t use that notarized statement in court unless that person comes to court and changes their story. So, if you want them to testify favorably, they have to be there. If you need to get them there and you can’t, then you have to have a subpoena issued. That’s another reason for needing an attorney to represent you. 

This information I just mentioned, even just the cursory review, is voluminous and complicated, and very difficult to handle on your own. You want to know rules of admissibility, not just for the witness statements that I mentioned, but also for your timestamps, for your text messages, for your emails, social media. There are rules and guidelines for how and when this information is admitted, so if you have to use it, you need to understand how to get it into court. You want to know what the rules are, what’s called hearsay, relying on information other people said outside of court. It’s complicated but very important in many cases. It’s a complex rule with a lot of exceptions, but you need to know them or have somebody like an attorney who knows them at the trial with you.  

Protecting Yourself During the Process 

During this process, it’s incredibly important to avoid contact with the accuser. First, get a restraining order. In this context, it’s usually a cross cross-complaint document. Any attempts the accuser makes to contact you, document the interactions, and keep a log of the dates, times, and contents of the conversations. 

Don’t fall into traps. Be mindful of situations where the accuser may try to bait you into an argument or physical altercation. Stay calm and avoid any situation where the confrontation is likely to occur. Generally speaking, a person who obtains a restraining order against you is not allowed to have contact. They can’t come and put you in violation of an order. If you happen to be in a supermarket, they can’t enter the supermarket and then say that you have to leave because you’re not supposed to be there. But if you see them there, you have to leave. If it’s involuntary or unintentional, then you have to leave. 

If they try to contact you, you cannot take the call. If they text message, you cannot respond, but you want to document that they did it. It’ll go a long way to show that they’re not afraid for their safety, which is a crucial part of a restraining order. But also understand that absent this kind of contact, you cannot initiate any contact with the accuser. Often people will not understand the nature of the restraining order. Because the order is usually concerned about a very close intimate relationship, the accused are not accustomed to being prevented from any contact. So they’ll pick up the phone or send a text message like, “why did you do this to me?” Or, “How could you say this? It’s not true.” Then it’s a violation, and it’s criminal. 

So, as soon as you’re served with a restraining order, cut off all contact, block their numbers, close their social media accounts, contact an attorney, build a support network and maintain emotional well-being.  

Dealing with false allegations of domestic violence can be emotional. Consider speaking with a therapist or counselor to help you manage your stress and emotions. Usually these individuals cannot testify, so you can feel confident in discussing and relying on their support. Lean on friends and family members. Having a strong support network can make a big difference when dealing with false allegations of domestic violence. Seek the counsel and support of friends and family who you trust as well as those who may be able to support you in trial. Lastly, focus on your well being. Don’t let the allegations consume your life. Engage in activities that you enjoy. You need to have a good, well-balanced life.  

Overcoming Domestic Violence Allegations 

False allegations of domestic violence can be daunting, but with the right tools and resources, it’s certainly possible to overcome these circumstances. Take the necessary steps to protect yourself. Don’t be afraid to seek the counsel of legal and mental health professionals during this difficult time. If you are unfortunately on the receiving end of a restraining order, and again, remember, by committing an act of domestic violence, it doesn’t mean that you have to receive a final restraining order. And if you do receive a final one, you certainly want to understand what that means and its impact on you. To speak to an attorney who is highly experienced in cases like yours, contact The Micklin Law Group LLC. We help men like you move past false allegations of domestic violence. Contact us for a consultation.  

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