Anna Johnson writes for the Daily Californian that February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month, which grew out of what Johnson reports as the roughly 2.3 million people who experience some form of domestic violence every year in the U.S.
Johnson asserts that domestic violence is not a private matter (recently, a sheriff was accused of misdemeanor charges of domestic abuse against his wife and apparently told authorities or media that it was a “private matter, a family matter”), and claims that it “comes at us from all angles.”
It’s true that victims of domestic violence should get the help they need – we commonly represent people who need to obtain orders of protection in our family law cases – but we also often defend people who are criminally charged with domestic violence.
In our criminal defense practice, we have come to see that charges do not automatically mean that the alleged perpetrator is an abusive person. In criminal cases, the defendant is still presumed innocent until proven guilty, or should be, and yet domestic abuse cases of not black-and-white – they’re gray.
For example, mere allegations of domestic abuse – without any confirming physical evidence – can lead to the arrest of the alleged perpetrator.
It’s good that February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month, but we must not forget that teen relationships – especially those that involve sex – are relationships that involve two people, one of whom may be unfairly charged.