Abuse in Maryland is criminal. Falsely accusing someone of committing abuse can have devastating effects. Knowing how to handle false allegations of abuse will go a long way in getting life back to normal. Here’s what you need to know:
False accusations, why are they made and what for;
Steps to take when facing false abuse allegations; And
Preventing false claims, what you can do to avoid these accusations.
False Accusations Happen More Often Than You Think
Abuse is a severe offense and should not be taken lightly. Maryland is tough on crimes of abuse, whether against children or adults. Usually, when a person claims abuse, the accusation can be backed up.
Unfortunately, sometimes abuse is used to leverage the situation to a legal benefit. These claims most commonly happen in child custody, separation, and divorce. When a relationship comes to its end, one party may find it very difficult to deal with and be revenge motivated.
These false claims of abuse have a tremendous impact on the lives of those accused. The significance stretches from financial loss to visitation rights. These allegations have become a popular means to “game” the system.
The reason people use this strategy because Maryland defines abuse as not just physical injury or harm, but verbal threats as well. Abuse has four categories, physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect. In other words, a judge does not need proof of only physical violence. The threats are proof enough to claim emotional or verbal abuse.
Because proof of abuse does not need to be physical harm, like pictures of bruises, cuts, or scratches, and only a threat is required, an email or text could be misconstrued as abuse. Evidence like this could allow the temporary order to turn into a final protective order with the alleged victim proving the accusation via abusive texts or emails.
Easy to see why someone with revenge on their mind might “work” the system to screw over the former partner. Although this is the most common cause of false abuse accusations, others exist. Examples include children who misunderstood a situation and employees in retaliation.
If false accusations are made, there are some things to do to start protecting yourself and clearing your name.
Steps to Defend Yourself Against the False Allegations
Speed is essential if a temporary order of protection is already issued. The interim order is only suitable for a few days, and then a hearing is held to determine if the order extends to a final order or not.
These hearings happen within a week of the initial request for a protective order. So, a temporary order can become final in what feels like a blink of an eye. Your divorce, custody, alimony, and child support negotiations hang in the balance. The accusations and a final protective order can swing a judge to favor the alleged victim in those matters.
You’ll need to act fast. Gather any evidence that disproves the allegations made, character witnesses, and obey what the temporary order says. Remember, a violation of it could result in criminal charges, making a bad situation much worse.
Contact an attorney or the attorney you are working with for the divorce, depending on your situation. Times like these are emotional and confusing. Having a steady mind fighting for you and your future takes some stress off your shoulders. Plus, an attorney can help you prove the allegations false by showing your story is more credible than the accusers.
Suppose these false allegations of abuse stem from anything other than a jilted ex-spouse. In that case, you should prepare for a police investigation as abuse is considered a crime in Maryland. The offense is punishable by fines and jail time, depending on the severity of the abuse. Police may come to the door when a jilted ex makes false accusations, especially if you’re in a heated argument and the authorities respond to a domestic abuse/violence call.
The police are looking to make a criminal case, so they want to prove the allegations against you. Lawyer up, and don’t let them crack you for a confession of guilt. A lawyer will make sure you only say what is needed and not anything that can be misconstrued or used against you.
As the divorce process starts and both parties split, there are things to do to prevent further falsities.
How You Can Prevent False Accusations of Abuse
Divorces and separations are not easy affairs to deal with mentally or emotionally. If things get messy and accusations of alleged child abuse or domestic abuse get thrown around, then there are some preemptive strategies to avoid further complicating things.
First, avoid any 1-on-1 contact. Please don’t put yourself in a situation where it’s their word against yours. Take a friend or relative with you when you have to meet up for custody drop-off or anything else. Having a witness to any interaction between you and your ex provides evidence to prove YOUR side of the story.
Secondly, do your best not to be baited into fights or arguments. When the moment gets heated and things are said that instigate, WALK AWAY. It is the best thing you can do. Not only does it get you away from the situation, but it allows you to digest what was said and happened before you react to it.
Thirdly, be extremely careful with what you write in any text or email communications. The written word is powerful and always comes with no context or tone. The receiver easily misinterprets these communications. Plus, they are used as evidence to support a protective order.
Finally, keep the peace. You need to keep yourself in check and not instigate anything. If a temporary protective order is already issued, follow it to a T. You do not want the situation to turn criminal. Also, avoid outbursts. If your ex is getting under your skin and you want to scream at them, DON’T. Keep a level head and maintain the high road.
By following this advice, you should avoid any further possible false accusations of abuse.
At JC Law, we know times can get tricky, but we’re here to help you out and get you to a better time in your life. We offer free initial consultations to discuss and strategize your specific case. Reach out and talk to someone familiar with the situation you are dealing with. False accusations hurt not only those accused but the accuser, too. Our team of dedicated lawyers is here for you and ready to tackle the case to get you to a fresh start.