In April 2022, a highly publicized civil defamation case between formerly married actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard brought domestic violence to the forefront of our national discourse, centering the conversation on whether or not the abuse allegations made by Heard were fabricated. The truth is, many Pennsylvanians find themselves facing similar accusations. Since those cases aren't often subjects of the daily news, you may be wondering how false allegations of domestic violence are handled in your state.
Why Do People Lie?
Understandably, domestic violence accusations are not taken lightly. In Pennsylvania, the Protection From Abuse Act (PFA) makes it easy to file for protection against abusive “household members.” While this is a positive for true victims of abuse, it also opens the door for false allegations.
The motivation to lie varies from person to person. One of the most common reasons is to affect ongoing or future custody battles. The court has a more difficult time granting custody rights to an abusive parent. The same can also be said for divorce proceedings, where accusations of domestic abuse can often tilt the scales in favor of the alleged victim. In some cases, false allegations are made purely out of spite, with the intent being to damage the accused's relationships or career.
Regardless of the reasoning, if you are falsely accused of abuse, your first instinct may be to react negatively or attempt to defend yourself. However, a wrong move can lead to further strengthen the accusations against you. Your best course of action is to hire an experienced PFA defense lawyer immediately.
Are There Repercussions For Lying?
Considering the massive weight a domestic violence offense has on the life of the accused, shouldn't the accuser face similar consequences for false allegations? Not usually.
Because the law does not want to discourage victims of abuse from coming forward, it is rare for charges to be brought against the lying individual. The person who was falsely accused may also choose to file a civil lawsuit (such as in the Depp-Heard case) to attempt to receive compensation for damages resulting from the false allegation.
If you have been wrongly accused, the number one priority should be to clear your name before the damage is irreversible. This can be difficult because the protections PFA orders provide to accusers make it nearly impossible to defend yourself. This is why you should not attempt to do it alone. Instead, allow someone who knows the ins and outs of Pennsylvania law to assist you with your defense.
An Experienced PFA Defense Attorney
Attorney Joseph D. Lento specializes in family law and has seen many of these types of cases. Attorney Lento and his expert team at the Lento Law Firm are ready to help protect you from baseless claims of domestic violence. Don't allow false accusations to ruin your life. Call 888-535-3686 or fill out the online form now to plan your defense.