If you have been charged with domestic violence, you face lifelong consequences and the possibility of having a protection order filed against you. These types of orders may end with you not being able to see your children or live in your shared home. Additional consequences include the inability to own firearms, live in certain residential complexes, or apply for certain jobs.
If you have already been issued a protection order, you may feel like you are walking on eggshells. Violating a protection order may result in a felony conviction and even jail time. But perhaps the worst part is the fact that you can be issued a protection order without your knowledge – leading to you violating rules you didn’t even know you had to follow!
Domestic violence-related charges can come about for a number of reason. Some are even the result of a simple miscommunication or a false accusation. But if you want to prove your innocence in court, you will have to have to build a strong, solid defense. The following are the most common defenses for domestic violence and protection order violation accusations:
Self Defense – If the police catch a couple in a physical fight, blame will often be put on the man in the relationship. This is an issue that is often swept under the rug. Men can be and are the victims of domestic violence. If you were engaged in physical contact because you were protecting yourself or someone else, you can claim that you acted in self-defense. You will, however, have to prove that your partner is the one guilty of domestic violence.
You Were Falsely Accused – False allegations of domestic violence can come from an upcoming divorce settlement or out of spite. The best way to fight this type of accusation is to take a close look at the prosecution’s story and the testimonial of any witnesses. If you find any inconsistencies, it is important to point these out to your attorney.
Alternatively, you may have been accused of domestic violence because you were mistaken for someone else. In this case, it is important to present an alibi or reveal inconsistencies in how you were identified.
Consent – You could be arrested for an act just because it looks like domestic violence. If your partner consented to the act that you were arrested for, it is important to make the consent known to the judge and provide any evidence that you have to support your claim.
Not Enough Proof – Whether you are fighting domestic violence charges or any other type of criminal charge, the law says you are innocent until proven guilty. In many cases, the testimony of a single individual is not enough for you to be convicted of domestic assault. If there is not enough proof (medical, surveillance, testimonies, etc.) you should be let go and the charges against you should be dropped.
You Have an Alibi – Having an alibi is important both for accusations of domestic violence and charges of violating your protection order. If you were accused of domestic violence and the accuser mentions a specific date or event that you were not with the accuser, it is important to present a solid alibi to the judge to prove your innocence.
Keep receipts or other physical evidence of the places you visited after receiving a protection order. If you are accused of being in a place that violates your protection order, you should be able to show the judge that you were in a completely different, allowed location.
You Were Not Violating Your Specific Restraining Order – Not all relationships or living situations are the same, so not all protection orders are the same. You may be falsely charged if the police catch you in a situation that appears to be violating your protection order but really isn’t. The best way to defend against these charges is to avoid them in the first place – keep a copy of your protection order on your person so that you can show officers where you are allowed – and not allowed – to go.
Lack of Intent or Knowledge – An accidental butt dial can cause you to call your accuser. A traffic detour can send you driving past their house. An ex parte order saddles you with rules and restrictions you’re supposed to follow without notifying you of them. These simple mistakes and omissions should not merit a felony conviction and jail time. Unfortunately, lack of intent is not always easy to prove to a judge, so it’s important to hire an experienced attorney with a history of winning cases related to protection orders.
If you use one of these defenses in court, know that it is not the first time the judge will hear it. It is also not uncommon for juries to take pity on the alleged victim and order a harsh sentence for the accused. Your best bet is to craft the strongest possible defense by contacting an experienced Minnesota domestic violence attorney today.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2016), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2016), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2016).