If you have been falsely accused of domestic abuse, you should remain calm and contact the defence lawyers here at Ashmans Solicitors. You are entitled to free legal representation at the police station. Asking for a solicitor is not an indicator of guilt and will not be considered that way by the authorities. A solicitor can ensure anything you say is not misconstrued. This could make the all difference to your case.
Domestic Abuse solicitors – England and Wales
Have you been accused of domestic abuse? Contact us now at Ashmans Solicitors. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We represent clients across England and Wales.
You’ve been accused of domestic abuse: what should you do?
False allegations of domestic abuse can and do happen. Often, this occurs in the context of a relationship breakdown. The other partner might make the accusations out of spite in order to cause trouble. Their motivation might even be to prevent the accused from seeing their child, or other manipulative reasons.
Clearly, being wrongly accused of domestic abuse is a position no one wants to be in. You may have been arrested in front of your neighbours. Word may have got round your workplace. Your reputation may have been tainted, even though nothing has been proven in a court of law. Understandably, this will leave you feeling angry and frustrated.
However, anger will get you nowhere in this situation. In fact, it will do your case more harm than good. Getting mad at the police suggests that you have a temper, and you may say something that you regret. So, as difficult as it might be, we urge you to remain calm. Instead of fiercely protesting your innocence, we recommend that you do the following:
1. Go with the police to the station
Do not make a scene or put up a fight if you are arrested. Go with the police to the station and let a solicitor fight the battle on your behalf. If you are not arrested but you are asked to attend the station voluntarily, then you have more time to prepare. When this happens, ask a solicitor to go with you.
2. Do not answer any police questions until a solicitor is present
Once you arrive at the police station, you should provide the custody sergeant with your name, address and date of birth, if they ask for it. Otherwise, do not answer ANY police questions until a solicitor is present. Tell the police that you want to speak to a solicitor. This is your legal right and it is free under the legal aid scheme. If you make this request, the police must not interview you until a solicitor has arrived, or you have received legal advice over the phone.
You can ask the duty solicitor to represent you, or you can contact a solicitor of your choosing – such as our lawyers here at Ashmans.
Call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
3. Co-operate with your solicitor
Your solicitor is there to help you. Do not be coy or uncooperative with him/her. You will have the chance to speak in private before the police interview takes place. Your solicitor can also request disclosure from the police. This means that the police must tell your solicitor why you have been arrested and what evidence they have against you. You cannot request disclosure by yourself; only a solicitor can do this. This is big advantage, as you will have a better insight as to the allegations being made by your partner/former partner/family member. It is in your best interests to be honest with your solicitor so they can help you get the best possible outcome.
4. Allow your solicitor to help you during the police interview
Your solicitor can then sit with you during the police interview. This is a huge help, as he/she can advise you what questions to answer, and how to answer them. Your solicitor can also ensure that something you say is not misinterpreted. Lots of domestic abuse cases have ended up in court based on something the defendant said during a police interview. The transcript is produced in court, and even just one sentence might be all it takes for the defendant to be convicted. This seems very unfair, seeing as you are under an enormous amount of stress during a police interview. However, as you are probably aware, anything you say may be produced as evidence.
You might think it easier to simply remain silent, but actually, this approach has its own set of problems. For example, if you do not answer a question during the police interview, but you do answer the same question in court, then your credibility will come under question. The court will find this suspicious, and may infer that you are creating a new version of events, now you have had time to think about it.
5. Comply with your bail conditions
After 24 hours in custody, the police must either get permission from the court to retain you for longer, or you must be released. If you are released on bail, you may have certain bail conditions, such as not returning home. We strongly advise that you comply with these bail conditions.
6. Get your own solicitor
If you have been unrepresented until this point, then you need to get your own solicitor. Your legal fees may be covered by legal aid. You need to find a lawyer who specialises in defending those accused of domestic abuse – such as the solicitors here at Ashmans. Your solicitor can then fight your case for you. Although you may know that you are innocent, the real task is to prove this to the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the court (if your case gets that far).
The police and the CPS tend to pursue domestic abuse cases, even if the allegations are withdrawn. This is because there is no way of telling if the complainant has been coerced into dropping the charges, or if they have genuinely changed their mind. The authorities may therefore override the complainant and choose to investigate/pursue domestic abuse cases regardless.
Your solicitor can use their legal expertise get the case dropped or, if this is not possible, to secure an acquittal in court.
How do you prove innocence in a domestic violence case?
But how exactly do you fight a false domestic abuse charge? Your solicitor will know how, especially if you choose someone who has extensive experience as a criminal defence lawyer.
It all comes down to the fact that the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Your solicitor will use various tools at their disposal to ensure the prosecution cannot meet this legal test. This includes producing witness statements, character references and expert evidence in your favour. Your legal team will also cross-examine the complainant – and any other prosecution witnesses – and highlight any weaknesses in their case. This might include inconsistencies or holes in their story.
Do I need a lawyer if I’ve been falsely accused?
It is very difficult to defend yourself, particularly in a domestic abuse case. Not only is it hard for you to remove the emotion from the situation, but you probably do not have a good enough grasp of the law to do your defence justice. Lots of people say that if they are innocent, then surely, they do not need a lawyer? Some are even concerned that instructing a legal representative is an indicator of guilt. Actually, neither statement is true.
Everyone can and should get a solicitor if they have been accused of an offence. If you do not hire a lawyer, there will be a significant power imbalance, both at the police station and in court. Your solicitor is there to advise you, and to present your defence in the best possible way. It certainly does not mean that you are guilty, and most importantly, the authorities will not see it this way either.
Can you press charges against someone for making false accusations?
If you are found not guilty of domestic abuse charges, or the case against you is dropped, you will understandably be angry that the complainant made the allegations in the first place. The whole ordeal has probably caused you a huge amount of stress and worry, not to mention reputational damage.
But can you press charges against someone for making false accusations of domestic abuse?
The answer is yes, in certain circumstances. Falsely accusing someone of a criminal offence and falsifying evidence amounts to perverting the course of justice. If the complainant lies in court, then this amounts to perjury. Both offences are extremely serious and carry custodial sentences.
Government Launches Domestic Abuse Consultations
The government has made a number of announcements recently in relation to domestic abuse. Councils are set to receive more funding to support domestic abuse victims. Current housing rules will also be reconsidered. The aim is to give victims greater agency over where they rebuild their lives.
Funding for councils
Councils in England are to receive greater funding to support domestic abuse victims. The funding is to be used to provide safe accommodation spaces, along with vital support services. This includes access to healthcare, social workers, immigration advice and addiction support.
Housing rules to be reconsidered
Along with the funding, the government is also reviewing current housing rules. The aim is to make is easier for victims to leave their perpetrators and start afresh, or to remain in their own homes if they prefer. The government is therefore reconsidering the rules on joint tenancies and the local connections test. It is thought these may be preventing victims from choosing where they rebuild their lives.
There is concern that domestic abuse victims may feel trapped if they are in a joint tenancy rental agreement with their perpetrator. The government has launched a consultation on the matter to find out:
- Whether domestic abuse victims feel trapped by joint tenancy agreements
- Whether perpetrators are using their ability to end a joint tenancy to threaten a victim with homelessness
- Whether the current guidance for social landlords is sufficient to support victims in joint tenancies
- Whether the law on transferring joint tenancies is working successfully for victims
Local connections test
The government has also launched a consultation regarding the local connections test. The worry is that victims of domestic abuse are being denied social housing in areas where they have no local connection – even though local councils are required to disregard the test in these circumstances. This means domestic abuse victims are not being given the chance to rebuild their lives in a new area.
The government is reviewing whether the local connections test should be removed or the guidance reviewed. It is also considering the pros and cons of introducing legislation to prevent the local connections test from being applied to domestic abuse victims.
Both consultations close on 10 May 2022.
False Accusations solicitors – England and Wales
Have you been accused of domestic abuse, coercive behaviour or domestic violence? Let us represent you. We can help you throughout the entire legal process, working to resolve the matter as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Call us on 0333 009 6275 for free legal advice and free police station representation. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.