What Chicagoans Should Know about False Domestic Violence Allegations
If you have been accused of domestic violence, you may be feeling many different emotions. You may be feeling angry that you have to go to court and defend yourself, nervous about facing penalties, or sad that you might lose the ability to be a parent to your children.
If you believe that you did not commit domestic violence, you’re probably also feeling confused.
We have all heard stories and claims on the news about false violence allegations, but no one ever really believes that they will find themselves in such a situation. If you are accused, what can you do to prevent unjust consequences?
Below, we’re going to talk about false domestic violence allegations in Chicago, and what you can do if you have further questions about the allegations against you.
Why Do False Allegations Occur in Chicago?
False domestic violence allegations may occur for a number of reasons. Sometimes, the alleged victim may not make these allegations with ill intentions. They may be confused about DV laws in Illinois or were given misinformed advice.
In worst case scenarios, however, the accuser may be actively intending to deceive. They may want to use the crime as leverage in a divorce case, or to get a protection order secured without talking to you face to face. The alleged accuser may also be mentally unstable, but this is a very rare occurrence.
Then there are the situations in which the alleged victim is not the person making the accusations. People who hold jobs with certain authority (including teachers or professionals in the medical field) may have rules that mandate domestic violence reporting. These reports may even be made without the consent of the alleged victim.
If you are closely connected to the alleged victim, you might be put in the hot seat.
So, How Often Do False DV Allegations Occur?
False allegations of sexual and domestic violence are often used as an argument to defend known rapists or abusers, but statistics have shown that only 2-6% of sexual violence claims are false. This is relatively in line with the rate of false allegations for other crimes.
As mentioned above, false allegations may be the result of misunderstandings. The same explanation applies to false arrests.
If law enforcement officials catch you and a partner in an argument in which you are trying to defend yourself, you may still be accused. Luckily, you can use self-defense as a defense strategy when you appear in court.
What Will Happen If You Are Convicted in Illinois?
Alleged victims may not understand the power of their accusation. A “basic-level” domestic battery charge is a class A misdemeanor in the state of Illinois. Penalties may include up to a year behind bars, probation, counseling, or fines.
If any of these factors are present in your case, charges will be increased to a class 4 felony:
- You have a DV conviction on your record
- The incident involved a child
- The incident involved sexual assault
- A firearm was present during the incident
Penalties for this type of domestic battery include up to six years in prison (although the time may be extended depending on the circumstances).
If You Are Falsely Accused of Illinois Domestic Violence…
Know What “Counts” as Domestic Violence
Even if you did not lay a hand on the accuser, you may not be able to claim that they are making false DV allegations. The definition of “domestic violence” covers more than just punching or slapping. Emotional or mental abuse may result in domestic violence claims that will be settled in one of Chicago’s civil courts. If you are unsure of whether you have criminal or civil claims against you, talk to a knowledgeable professional.
Prepare Your Finances
Again, false domestic violence allegations are made for a number of reasons, but sometimes they are used to get more out of a divorce settlement. Do not allow your accuser to get away with more property or parenting time due to a lie. Prepare your finances accordingly so you can get a more even split if the accuser decides to file for divorce.
The United States gives you the right to legal counsel if you are arrested for a crime. Seek out a lawyer who has experience handling false domestic violence allegations.
It is not easy to battle stereotypes and prove that you did not commit battery when you are accused, but it can be done. Do not allow perception to determine something that can negatively impact the rest of your life. Fight back.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes.