Over at Gunfreezone, Miguel posts about people abusing claims of domestic abuse in order to gain leverage in divorce cases. I have twice been accused of this by angry ex-girlfriends who were trying to get revenge on me for daring to be their ex:
- In the first case, the woman used it in an attempt to extort cash from me, and a cop told her how to do it.
- In the second case, the woman learned about it from me after I had foolishly told her about the first time. She made all sorts of claims about things that she claimed I did. The big thing that saved me was that I had proof that I wasn’t even in the country when some of the events supposedly took place.
the law is abused. Here are the disturbing statistics:
25% of all divorces include accusations of domestic violence.
50% of all domestic violence restraining orders are issued without allegations of violence.
70% of domestic violence restraining orders are trivial or false. (PDF warning)
85% of restraining orders are against men
In fact, a New Mexico woman filed a restraining order against David Letterman in 2005, alleging that she was a victim of his domestic abuse. He had never met the woman. She said that he was using secret code words during his television show to threaten her. The judge in the case found her claims to have merit and granted the order, even though it was later overturned.
The law says that women can make an accusation of domestic violence and the court will punish the man by issuing a restraining order without him being allowed to defend himself. He gets a hearing two weeks later, but by that time his guns have been taken and his concealed weapons permit revoked. There is no fee for the woman to do this.
She gets a free lawyer. He does not. When it is discovered that she lied, nothing happens to her. She will not be prosecuted, and cannot be sued or punished in any way.
Unfortunately, the current version of section 784.046 does not seem to permit the trial court to simply dismiss a sworn petition that does not allege facts that fall within the statutory language. Instead, section 784.046(5) requires that “[u]pon the filing of the petition, the court shall set a hearing to be held at the earliest possible time.” The result is the use of scant judicial resources to conduct unnecessary hearings based on pleadings that could never support the issuance of an injunction. These same hearings often serve only to inflame the parties’ emotions and foster further uncivil behavior. I would encourage the legislature to consider amending the domestic violence and repeat violence statutes to allow judges to dismiss petitions that, on their face, do not contain allegations sufficient to meet the statutory requirements without prejudice to the petitioner refiling a legally sufficient petition if he or she can do so.
Women who lie to use the law as a weapon cannot be punished. From the same decision:
Further, nowhere in section 784.046 is there any provision for an award of sanctions against a petitioner who uses the statutory provisions concerning injunctions as a sword rather than a shield.