Hollywood Provides Example of the Damage of Mere Accusations of Domestic Violence

Allegations of domestic violence are extremely harmful. These tips can help you defeat the claims and rebuild your reputation.

Allegations of domestic abuse can devastate the life of the accused - even if the allegations are eventually revealed to be unfounded. Two celebrity couples provide current examples. The first are Hollywood sweethearts Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. In this case, Ms. Jolie made allegations of abuse. The repercussions were immediate. Mr. Pitt was the center of an investigation by child protective services and reportedly only able to visit his children in the presence of a therapist.

The second case involves former Spice Girl Mel B and her spouse Stephen Belafonte. The allegations involve a claim of continued abuse over the span of a 10-year marriage. Shortly after filing for divorce, the "America's Got Talent" judge stated her former partner "punched and choked her." After making these public allegations, Melanie Brown moved to seal the record. If successful, Ms. Brown will essentially be allowed to share her version of events with the public while forcing Mr. Belafonte to keep his version confidential.

Damage of accusations of domestic abuse

The accusations in these two cases provide examples that translate for anyone in a similar situation, regardless of his or her profession. These celebrities faced public scrutiny for their alleged wrongdoing and may face professional fallout as well, far before any determination of the truth or falsity of the allegations.

The same is true for those in other professions. People in business, medicine, law, politics, education - any profession -- can feel the impact of false allegations of domestic abuse.

Damage of a domestic abuse conviction

Penalties for convictions vary from state to state. In Massachusetts, the term "domestic violence" is used to cover almost any form of abuse committed by one family member against another, or by people in a dating relationship. The definition of domestic violence can include not just the actual commission of physical harm, but also the fear that such harm could or would occur.

Once the allegation is made, action against the accused begins. This generally includes mandatory arrest. It is also important to note that even if the person making the accusations states that they do not want to "press charges," the case is not automatically dropped. Once an arrest is made, it is the prosecutor's decision to dismiss or move forward with the charges. Most of the time, a prosecutor will move forward in any way possible, even without the cooperation of the accuser.

If the charge results in a conviction, the penalties in Massachusetts can include up to two-and-half-years of imprisonment, a $1,000 monetary fine and a mandatory batterer's intervention program.

Importance of defending against domestic violence accusations

Experienced attorneys will counsel you to resist the temptation to ignore accusations of domestic violence, or to count on the notion that the problem will just "go away.". It is important to take these claims seriously. Defenses can be tailored to your case and can help better ensure that your legal rights are protected. Contact a defense attorney experienced in domestic violence cases to discuss your options.

Tips to rebuild your reputation

After legally fighting the accusations, you can take proactive steps to rebuild your reputation. Some tips to consider include:

  • Proactive steps can help. A piece in Forbes on rebuilding reputations notes that "your reputation will rot if you let it." Focus on relationships, professional and personal, that may have been impacted by these allegations. Reach out to keep these relationships from crumbling.
  • Repair mistakes. In the event that the allegations negatively impacted your work, acknowledge any missed obligations and develop a resolution.
  • Patience is a virtue. Rebuilding a reputation takes time. Do not expect it to happen overnight.

Taking legal action and using some of these tips can help you rebuild your life after facing false allegations.