Why Are False Allegations of Domestic Violence Rarely Prosecuted?

Domestic violence is a very serious cause and sadly, an all too prominent issue in the United States. Yet it can’t be ignored that false allegations of domestic violence do happen.

 

A 2009 report from the University of New Mexico School of Law explains that recantation in domestic violence cases has become the norm. According to the head of the Family Violence Division of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, an estimated 90% of domestic dispute victims recant their original statements. A recantation does not always mean the abuse didn’t occur, but for some reason, the victim recanted their statement whether it be due to pressure from the accused, fear, false accusations or other outside factors.

Due to the emotional and often volatile nature of domestic violence, there are many organizations and protocols in place to help victims quickly and safely escape a dangerous situation. Sadly, this also makes it easy for domestic violence charges and restraining orders to be taken advantage of. Due to the high prevalence of recantation, it is commonplace for prosecutors to turn a blind eye to possible perjury in domestic violence cases for fear of criticism even though it is widely understood that lying to a court is in fact a felony.

According to SAVE, an organization dedicated to finding evidence-based solutions to end domestic violence and sexual assault, it is estimated that nearly 700,000 people are wrongfully convicted of domestic violence every year yet there are no district attorneys who regularly prosecute false allegations of domestic violence. With the high prevalence of innocent men and women convicted of domestic disputes, it’s shocking to hear there are no district attorneys in the United States who regularly prosecute false allegations of domestic violence.

As of now, the only true help a person accused of domestic violence can find is with a domestic violence defense attorney to avoid conviction and prove their innocence. Even so, the accused are often arrested and charged based on the word of the accuser and then face attorney fees and a social stigma that can last months, years, or a lifetime. Even without formal criminal charges, a false accusation of domestic violence can result in devastating circumstances for the accused socially, professionally, and even financially.

 

A good -or bad – example of this situation was in 2015 when UFC Heavyweight, Travis Browne, was accused of domestic violence by his estranged wife and fitness model, Jenna Renee Webb. Rather than making a formal claim and getting the authorities involved, on July 8, 2015, Ms. Webb posted a photo of her, with a bruised face and arms, on her Instagram profile with over 100k followers.

 

Jenna Webb DV Accuse

 

The picture was accompanied by the following caption: “Probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made was walking away from this life and starting over. I’m still ashamed for staying as long as I did. #domesticviolenceawareness”.

 

This caused a social media uproar with “trolls” coming out of the woodwork to attack Mr. Browne for his alleged abuse, even though there was no concrete evidence of abuse or criminal charges. Due to the violent nature of professional fighting, the UFC quickly suspended Browne to conduct their own private investigation into the matter.

One month after allegations surfaced, the investigation concluded and found “inconclusive evidence” to support the allegations of domestic violence. Although Browne was reinstated and much of the public attention of the matter eventually died down, the damage was already done. A quick look at Browne’s social media accounts shows he still receives messages and comments accusing him of beating his wife.

With the massive impact a false allegation of domestic abuse can have on the accused, it’s a wonder why the accusers are so rarely prosecuted, especially with the drastic negative impact it has on the life of the accused.

Brian Beltz

With a degree in Mass Communications and Journalism, Brian brings over four years of experience writing for the legal industry to Dopplr.

19 comments

  • I am a female and am going through this same scenario against my ex boyfriend. I was shockingly arrested not knowing what I had done. Police said based on the scratches and bruising on my ex boyfriends neck they had to arrest me – for the first time ever. I went to jail, paid bail, got home late that night. Woke up the next morning and checked my security camera outside to see if anything popped up. Low and behold, in 1080 HD a video of the person that accused me scratching and punching his OWN neck. I quickly called the police so that I could submit the evidence before the DA filed. I even called the DA’s office 10 times to make sure they received the footage and there was no answer and no message machine. The DA did not receive the supplementary police report and filed on me – pushing me to hire a lawyer. Three weeks later, my lawyer checked to see if the DA received the video and they only received the report to the video and not the video….AND still had not even read the report. My lawyer pulled together a report with a detailed log of the video and footage – that is timestamped to the exact time he is calling the police while scratching his own neck. Currently, I am awaiting my courtdate to see what happens. I feel like a victim of DV and the justice system and something needs to be fixed. I am now out several thousands of dollars because of someones lies and a missed step in the justice system. Something positive needs to come out of my experience and I want to figure out how to fix this in our system. I also want justice to be served properly to those that file false police reports. Men and women don’t deserve this unfairness. I am beyond shocked at our system and really want to draw attention to this issue. I understand that my first step is to get this dismissed and need to concentrate on that. Second step is to get this expunged. Third step is to bring additional awareness to this topic. If just one person learns from my experience than I will be happy. Any ideas where to start?

    • I’m a woman going through the same exact thing! My ex abused me for YEARS and just recently filed false charges against ME. This is the most terrifying experience of my life, considering I also have a little girl to protect.

      • I’m going through the same thing too! It’s a nightmare and I honestly wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy! It’s very scary and I don’t know you you guys feel like me… But, I feel like my life is in complete limbo! What makes things worse about my situation is my husband is a deputy sheriff, which makes everything a little more scary and nerve-wracking.

        • Hang in there ladies and we all need to look at this as an experience and turn our experiences into something positive. My case was eventually sealed and all arrest records were destroyed. The DA asked me if I would testify against him in court if they were to file against him for filing a false police report. However, because DA’s just don’t do it, it doesn’t sound like they are. Since, my abuser has sent me several threatening messages and even took a snapshot of my mugshot when it was public knowledge and emailed it to mutual friends saying that I was in Jail and high on drugs. The DA has been shown these emails, but their response was simply “get a restraining order”. We all know that those don’t work to protect – it simply gives the abuser more of the attention that they desire.

          I am going through therapy to get past the PTSD…I have been a victim of a domestic violence abuser and our judicial system. I am in public relations/advertising industry and have a creative side to me and I just know that a product will come out of my experience that will generate awareness on Domestic Violence and the way our judicial system works. What that is….not sure yet. Let me get myself back and then my creative juices will flow!

          Anyway, stay positive and, again, turn your experience into a positive.

          Here’s to blue skies,
          Anonymous Female that originally posted about experience with video tape evidence

  • Can I press charges on my wife if I am found not guilty in court for domestic assault and spent a week in jail?

    • No. Only the District Attorney can “press charges” you may file a civil suit for harm to your reputation and damages.

  • My husband also falsely accused me of domestic violence. One day I discovered that he had been asking out women he with whom he worked. He had started to to drink heavily.. about two cases of beer each day, I later discovered. I knew he was drinking, but he would lie about the amount. My husband soon become violent and had extreme outbursts of anger. He become repeatedly verbally and even physically abuse towards me. One afternoon he came home from work and began to belittle me to the point where I was in tears, begging him to stop. Of course I defended myself, so we began to argue. At some point in the argument my husband called my father, who came into the house and proceeded to shake me and yell in my face. I was still crying from my husband’s cruel words, so I left the house. When I returned my husband had called the police and I had no idea as to why. One police officer ran at me and violently forced my hands behind my back. I asked him what he was doing and never received a response. He and his partner lifted me off of the ground and carried me to the police car. Not once did they tell me why I was being arrested. I later found out that my husband had made false accusations against me so he could have me out of tbe way to date other women. He attempted to tell the officers the truth, but they refused to speak with him until after charges has been filed. In court my husband maintained tbat I had done nothing to him, so the domestic violence charges were unsubstantiated. The DA filed a disorderly conduct charge against me because they basically wanted to have something to file against me. I was forced to plea “no contest” to a disorderly because my husband would not pay for a trial. I had been a teacher at the time, and although the state allowed me to keep my teaching license believe that this incident undermined my self-esteem and therby affected my career.

  • This is just what you deserve you people want to sit around and complain about the Laws of other people’s and other countries and how your laws are so Superior and so great. You sit around and watch and listen to all of the lies told about black men and Latino men not taking care of and spending time with their children and you let this go on for so long Latinos being targeted that now you are being profit from like a commodity your children are being bought and sold to the highest bidder and if you can afford the lawyer you lose and if you don’t have the money to pay to play then the free paid legal aid lawyer representing the false accuser and your own children is paid for with your tax dollars will win and you will lose your children this is that democracy and capitalism that you are so proud of good day

    • Your comments though accurate in some points is completely useless being more of a disgruntled rant than actual commentary.

  • I was falsely accused and wrongfully convicted then put under a family violence protection order in Texas. After 7 years of fighting the false allegations I won. I may mention also that after a cost of hundreds of thousands paid to an attorney who literally benefitted me nothing I won my case Pro Se. Save your money and read cause 01-14-00845-cv in the Texas First Court of Appeals. Read the case and Feel free to contact me with any questions and share your story with me. Together we can stop this insanity.

    • I am pretty sure I need to talk with you! Falsely accused of domestic violence against my wife and two minor daughters. Not even physical violence! She said she felt threatened and now I am currently going through the worst time in my life! I have been accused of being an alcoholic, a drug abuser and I’m a threat to kidnap. My monster of a wife is the drinker and has a long history of drug abuse. Three driving accidents whilst under the influence in 2 months! She has a history of mental illness. Because of these FALSE allegations and this restraining order, I cannot see my children unless supervised yet the ex wants me to have them for the first part of the summer! She really is a monster! The police report even states my wife said I was not a threat to them and that I never threatened her. She even got the date wrong. It took her over 8 days to decide to file for protection. She has kidnapped the girls now. Abandoned the house I still cannot got to and left the county! 3 hours away. She took the girls out their school and home. It gets worse! She had confessed to being unfaithful to my friends and hers but never to me. She left her messenger app open on my tablet. It’s been painful. Sending naked videos of herself to men. Inviting a man over the day after I was removed. Admits to masturbating whist sharing a bed with our 6 year old child! I was instructed to inform DCF. I sent them all the screen shots of her confessions unsafe and inappropriate behavior. They did nothing! Excepting drugs from coworkers and friends. It’s a true horror story. She was pregnant at 14 and lost the child. She ran away at 16 and got hooked on opiates. She got involved in adult films in her later teens to pay for the addiction. I feel like the most stupid person in the whole world right now! As soon as I said “I do” her useless parents handed me all her debt! She now has the most precious things in my life in her care! She is ruining their lives! At this point I now see she is a very sick person. I’m helpless other than lawyers and patience! I am living a true life horror story! I CAN prove every word I have written! I cry, I get angry, sad over and over. I don’t want to eat properly. I don’t want to get up and do things. I’m a mess! I don’t drink. I don’t take drugs! I’m a good person and the person that’s a risk, has my girls, and is getting away with everything. I NEED HELP!

      • Matt, first I know the emotions are overpowering at times but this has to be approached with a cool head and deliberate actions focused on getting the result you need.

        At this point it is not about her history or false allegations… it is about the court and making it do what it is intended for rather than what is convenient or popular.

        You can email me at david.lancaster50@gmail.com anytime and I’ll be glad to do whatever I can.

  • This has to end, I never want anyone to go through what I’m going through. It sounds like you have been through my situation.

  • What if your adult son lies and tells the police that your boyfriend abused you? My son did this, he told the police that my boyfriend abused me, when he did not. This goes a lot with other issues that are happening at this time, however, this is one charge against my boyfriend, and it is completely false.

  • I have been in a domestic abusive relationship married to my husband for 14 years. One morning, he tried to kill me the day after our son’s 4th birthday. He tried to break my neck over my cast-iron sink. I reached for anything to grab to swing at him to get him off of me, which resulted in a tiny nick at the top of his head in which he denied medical attention. He tried to bite my fingers off, when I tried to push him away from me. The police was called that morning… and because his head is vascular, they arrested ME, instead of him, in spite of the fact that my fingers were severely damaged and injured. Do you know what the police told me about my fingers they said I could have bitten my own fingers. I simply could not believe this. My husband has been abusing me for years, and I was arrested. And even during the pre-trial, which was poorly handled, my husband wrote a letter to the judge confessing letter stating that this was all his fault and not mine. And the DA ignored it!!! The judge got upset saying that I coaxed my husband into writing the letter…in which I did not! Angrily I was adamant about the jury trial. I wanted to take my chances with a group of my peers. But instead THEY offered me a plea. To just take a two-year probation plea in which I did, because I thought that my freedom was right there at the door, little did I know that within 16 months the abuse with start again, and he refuses to pay my probation refuses to give me any of our money refuses access to bank account to savings account to anything Financial I was arrested recently for violating my probation I am in a house that I feel eventually might land me back in jail because they simply don’t have the money to help me pay my probation I don’t have a job I am looking relentlessly. I must complete 100 community service hours by June 11th started my community service hours by the 21st when I go back to my Probation Officer. And I need my children. My husband has them since they arrested me. He doesn’t know that I am released which my family and I believe that is a good thing. Michael is ok half of the time but the other half…His help us. It’s only a matter of time when he loses his temper on one of the boys. It’s imperative that I get my children and flee from him. The early morning of the 31st of January Michael hit me again… He promised me that he would never hit me again….. Well I called the police. he really thought he was going to jail. Preparing by getting dressed and putting on shoes. but they arressted me for VOP. I spent 40s in jail. I need an attorney a safe place for me and my children and transportation. But alas I don’t have a job yet. I don’t know what to do can you help me with resources here in Atlanta?

  • I have been arrested for criminal mischief and the criminal justice charge me with domestic violence

  • I am a man falsely accused of domestic violence by my ex girl friend. She is diagnosed with bipolar 1, schizophrenia, and clinical depression. She, I am guessing also suffers from S.A.D.S. (seasonally affected disorder) because she has tried to run me out of her house the last four winters in the middle of winter, only to claim that she loves me later. She has called or had the police called three times in the last three years. The first two times she was asked to leave her own home because she was the obvious aggressor. The third and last time the police took the bait and I was arrested for harassment.The sheriff said as he placed the cuffs on me “this is the third time we have been here so we are going o arrest you”. While I was in jail she filed for and received a restraining order against me. Her entire family suffers from this condition and have protected each other in an environment of enabling. She is sixty years old and has had some life changes that have left her unable or unwilling to manage her condition. Her daughter who is affected with the condition as well, has chosen to self medicate with methamphetamine and became addicted, has a daughter that is affected by the condition as well. When ever I have tried to get any of them help I have been called a monster that can say nothing good about the family. The more I tried to get her to get the help she needed the more I was considered the enemy.I accepted the plea deal offered by the court because my attorney said I would lose the case anyway and would cost me five to seven thousand dollars more. The plea deal offered was thirty hours of community service, a $250 dollar fine and a year of bench probation, in other words not get in any trouble for a year. When it can time for me to make a statement I mentioned her conditions and the judge flipped out and accused me of blaming the victim, I am now facing drug and alcohol treatment, regular urinalysis testing, and a year of batterers classes to the tune of $2200 additional dollars. The police report differed from the restraining order story, the restraining order is clearly perjury. She has the negative reinforcement of her ill and highly medicated family that has only afforded her the opportunity for her to become more ill and in denial of her condition. The last time I saw her, her face was all scabby from picking at it, I had got her to stop picking at it for a while. But I see she has returned to the habit. So at this point she is supporting her meth addicted daughter and two grand daughters, one who was born with meth in it’s system and another that obviously has some form of the condition.

  • I’m an immigrant. I faced the same situation with most of people here. But the fear is even worse since DV is a deportable crime if convicted. My domestic violence abuser who is my ex gf filed a false accusation and I got arrested. I stayed in jail for one day and got released after I paid my bond. The girl suffered Borderline Personality Disorder and was emotion impulsive. She was afraid of filing false police report since it’s a far more serious crime than dv itself. Of course, I hired an experience attorney and the case was dismissed in the court because of the attorney’s effort. The case happened over two years ago but it is just like yesterday. I can still remember every details and even my statement was twisted by the police officer. This made me no longer trust US police and prosecuting system anymore. As a survivor from domestic violence and falsely accusation, I wish everyone facing the same situation the best of luck! Stay confident and fight the injustice!

  • Going through it too. I have actually taken my baby mama in 3 times and i have a record now of 3 assault charges. I stay with my family for my now third assault charge. They also got me for an alleged child abuse case on her child i raised since she was 8 months old. She has messaged me saying she will always love me. But she has gotten a guy in my apartment. I lost my job that i had for three years. My brother was nice enough to get an attorney, and right now I have another job, but who knows after april 13th what will happen since our history of the countless charges put on me. Ever since I moved to front royal I have faced Hell. No matter how false the charges I know I will be sentenced harshly. I wish I knew of this site. I’ve been really trying to help her, but now I see that I may not see the light of day. My son and her son is in her care i already had to send a breech of lease because the landlord has been given complaints of loud noises and suspectful people entering my home at off hours of the night. I know she smokes and drinks. A past history of prostitution, drug use, and Larssone charges. I fear for my two boys and yet my work associaties warned me along with my family that I should have stayed away and move on and hope the system works for the kids and my sake. It’s probably a week too late before I go to trial. I just want those to hear these stories and know that its real. Been in jail with distros and shooters waking up to the nightmare of all my money used. When i got out the police couldnt even get my wallet with my social security card, personal information, and money from her after admitting she had it. My mother even sent a prepaid envelope to Mrs. Starcher to no avail. She trying to get custody from my mother and claiming I am a danger to my daughter who is in my mothers care. I wish I stopped aiding her when she has my kid in hotel rooms and beating her son senseless that has bruising that they placed on me now. I thought my presence could give the kids a safety net from around her instead I cannot even protect myself. Lots of love to all who is going through it. I pray for us all.

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