Domestic violence offences have become something of a hot political issue of late. Whilst there has been a reluctance on the part of the police to become involved in ‘domestic’ situations in the past – leading to prolonged abuse – there is a suspicion amongst some that the scales may have tipped too far in the other direction. This risks leaving certain suspects vulnerable to false allegations by angry former partners. Richard Wood of Criminal Matters looks at some of the issues involved.
“These sorts of cases are often intractably linked to a long chain of historic events, and to protracted family law disputes in the courts. There will often be arguments about the finances of a previous marriage, and over contact with children of the relationship. It makes for a pretty toxic situation which is a breeding ground for ill tempers and false allegations.
If you have found yourself charged with an offence out of this type of situation, it is likely to be one of the following:
- Assault or other allegation of violence
- Criminal damage
- Breach of a restraining order or non-molestation order
Depending on the circumstances and your criminal record, convictions for these types of offences can result in prison sentences or community orders, not to mention to the knock on effect in terms of any continuing family court proceedings. The criminal courts are specially instructed to treat any aspect of domestic violence as an aggravating feature for sentencing purposes.
The key to avoiding unfair prosecution is expert representation. There will often be a need to cross examine the complainant about the allegation, and to test their truthfulness. Gathering evidence is also important. This will need to show that the complainant had made inconsistent comments in the past, or that they have behaved in a way which is no consistent with the nature of their allegation i.e. affectionate text messages at a time when they says you were abusing them etc. Social media is often a very rich source of this type of evidence, as people are quick to comment on Facebook etc, but slow to realise that posts can be used as evidence or as a basis of cross-examination at a later trial.
Of course, you as the Defendant will usually wish to give evidence. It is also an advantage if you can call witnesses in support of your case, such as eye witnesses, or character witnesses. Any such evidence needs to be very carefully thought out.
In this way, you provide yourself with the best chance of being acquitted. Better still, it may be that the prosecution will offer no evidence in respect of the allegations, like my client Mr G. He had been charged with battery, ABH, and criminal damage against his former wife. However, we were able to make representations to the Crown Prosecution Service which persuaded them that the complaint was not credible. Mr G was, as you might imagine, very happy. He said of the service her was provided:
“Richard Wood provided first class support and assistance when I really needed it. They could have done nothing more. Thank you.”
Even if you are convicted, or plead guilty, then we will be able to help to limit the damage, and ensure that you walk away with the lightest possible sentence.
If you have been charged with a domestic violence related offence, then please call Richard Wood of Criminal Matters on 0800 4334 613 for a free and without obligation chat about your case. Richard Wood is a barrister with over 20 years experience of dealing with these sorts of allegations.