Weighing the Victim's Word Against Yours
Domestic violence offenses are unique because, in a court of law, the most powerful evidence is sometimes testimony from the alleged victim and abuser. And when it's the victim's word against yours, it's harder to defend yourself.
Not surprisingly, the victim's word can sound more believable to a judge and jury. Unfortunately, many people have taken advantage of this tenuous form of evidence and make false allegations of domestic violence, sending innocent people to jail in an act of revenge. To help you prevent this from happening to you, here's what you need to know about the victim's word in domestic violence cases in California.
Difficult to Prove
Domestic violence cases are hard for everyone. It's hard for the defendant to protect his or her rights. It's hard for the victim to testify against someone they're close to. It's hard for the jury to listen to stories of domestic violence. And it's hard for the prosecution to produce enough evidence to convict the defendant. Physical evidence is often lacking. And unless the victim sought medical treatment, there may not be evidence of injuries. Such factors make these cases complex, which makes fighting your charges harder.
Everyone must testify under penalty of perjury. This means they must tell the truth, nothing but the truth, and understand the consequences of committing perjury, which is a serious federal offense. If you suspect the victim is lying under oath, you should consult with an experienced California criminal defense attorney about what you can do. Your domestic violence charges could be dismissed if you could prove the victim committed perjury, but you need a skilled attorney to help you do so.
That said, you must be honest about the interaction between you and the victim. But for those facing false allegations of domestic violence, it's not as easy as saying you didn't do it. If you stop there, you will likely be convicted. You need to build a defense strategy, which can be difficult without any hard evidence. Let's take a look at steps you can take to make sure the victim's word against yours doesn't land you behind bars.
Call On Others to Help
Witnesses are very valuable in domestic violence cases. A witness does not need to have actually seen a physical altercation to serve a purpose in court. A neighbor who overheard yelling or other noises next door could be a witness. So could a bystander who happened to see a fight in your front yard. If you need to prove the victim was making false allegations, witnesses may be your lifelines.
You will need to find a witness who can testify against the claims of the victim. For example, if the victim claimed you threw a chair at her, it's reasonable to suggest your neighbor would have heard that. If your neighbor could then say he or she heard nothing from your house, you can use their testimony as evidence. Another example is if the victim claimed you broke her arm but a bystander witnessed the victim fall down your front porch stairs before the police came. These small circumstantial pieces of evidence, when combined with a well thought-out argument, can work to prove the victim was lying.
Find a Legal Advocate
When it's the victim's word against yours, you need to work even harder to prove your innocence. Whenever facing domestic violence charges, work with a Visalia criminal defense attorney with experience in domestic violence defense. A domestic violence conviction carries many serious consequences. And it's all too common for a defendant to be wrongfully convicted because he or she did not take steps to build a good defense. You need a legal advocate when facing such a high stakes situation. A good attorney can evaluate the facts and circumstances of your offense and help you take steps to make sure your word is taken seriously in court.
Facing domestic violence charges can be overwhelming, but experienced Visalia area criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens can help you navigate the process of defending your rights and clearing your name. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you build a strategic defense to fight your charges. Attorney Martens has practiced criminal defense for over ten years and knows how to defend your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.