Protection Orders Based on False AllegationsTennessee law provides protection orders for victims of domestic violence, sexual assaults and stalking. A protection order is a civil order signed by a judge that prohibits an abuser from doing certain things, such as going to a certain location or contacting a victim.
Laws against domestic assault emphasize protections for victims of assaults. Unfortunately, the current system fails to adequately address the need to ensure justice for those who are falsely accused of domestic assaults.
Reasons why the protection order system is abusedMany innocent Tennessee residents are victimized by false accusations of wrongdoing and are facing unfair consequences of having protection orders issued against them. There are structural and tactical reasons why this keeps happening.
First, it is easy for alleged victims to obtain a temporary protection order. The only thing an alleged victim needs to prove is that he or she has a reasonable fear for her or his safety. One family law attorney stated that a judge once granted a restraining order because of the way his client looked at the wife during the hearing. It is difficult for a judge to conclude that absolutely no fear exists in a victim. As a result, almost everybody can get a temporary protection order just by asking for one and accusing another.
When a judge grants a temporary protection order during an ex parte proceeding it means that presence of both parties is not required. In this situation, a judge can issue an order without ever even hearing from an alleged abuser.
Gender bias also can play a role in a unilateral proceeding. According to a report by Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, 85 percent of persons against whom protection orders are entered are men.
Devastating effects of false allegationsThe consequences of protection orders can be devastating to those against whom an order is entered. Even if an order lacks a factual basis, once a person against whom the order is entered violates the terms of the order, an alleged victim can have police arrest the alleged abuser and send him or her to jail.
Moreover, an innocent person can be precluded from coming to his or her own home because a judge can order the person to stay away from a house where an alleged victim resides. If an order is entered against a person with children, the protection order can deprive a person of his or her right to custody of the children in the event of divorce. Additionally, it can affect which spouse will get the marital home and other marital property during a divorce.
On the top of all that, protection orders treat many fathers and mothers like criminals, and in the eyes of their own children, they look bad. Especially in relationships with children, protection orders issued based on false allegations of abuse can continue to inflict emotional pains on innocent Tennessee parents even after they get the orders rescinded. Entering a protection order creates a record that is visible during employment background checks. As a result, protection orders can harm the reputations and career paths of innocent Tennessee residents and wrongfully impose social sanctions on them.
Based on interviews and surveys conduc ted with lawyers, many lawyers now know that the protection order system can be used as litigation strategy and as retaliation for unrelated matters. It is very difficult for accused individuals to defend themselves on their own. Innocent persons facing a protection order need aggressive representation by a family law attorney.