One of the surest events that could jeopardize your future is for someone to accuse you of domestic violence. Domestic violence in Illinois refers to any physical or violent act one person commits against someone with whom he or she has an intimate relationship. This can be a spouse or child, but it may also be a former romantic interest or roommate.
Domestic violence is a criminal charge and carries serious consequences. It is one of the few charges for which the mere accusation can bring about ruinous results. Once someone files charges against you, you may find your options narrowing quickly.
Are you prepared for the consequences?
Unfortunately, some people already know the damage a domestic violence allegation can do. If the motive is to cause you serious and perhaps irreparable harm, filing domestic abuse charges is a common method. Some of the consequences, both immediate and long term, may include the following:
- You may find that your friends and acquaintances treat you differently because of the damage to your reputation.
- Family members may become confused by the charges, causing some of them to turn away from you.
- Your career or business may suffer because of the accusations.
- You may lose custody of your children.
- You may face criminal charges, including the potential for years in prison if convicted.
- You may face civil penalties if your accuser also files a lawsuit against you.
- Some of your civil rights may be rescinded, such as the right to own a gun.
Wisely, law enforcement and lawmakers err on the side of the victim in abuse cases. Knowing the power an abuser can have over his or her victim, police and the court system seek to protect victims of violence by acting quickly against the alleged abuser even if there is little evidence. However, this may mean your rights are in jeopardy. If someone accuses you of domestic violence, you may find yourself in custody even if your accuser recants the accusations.
What to do in the face of accusations
When facing accusations of domestic violence, your first step may be to seek legal advice. In fact, many legal advocates recommend saying nothing to authorities until you speak with an experienced attorney. Your words and actions are under careful scrutiny, and any outburst or impulsive reaction may bring about a bad end.
You would be wise to change any passwords on your email and other accounts to prevent your accuser from accessing them to send incriminating messages to substantiate his or her false accusations. You can further protect yourself by reaching out to your friends and family before your accuser can turn them against you. Hearing your side first may allow them to make a reasonable judgement.