The COVID-19 pandemic and the “stay at home” orders that have come with it are impacting nearly every aspect of our daily lives. One unexpected development brought on by coronavirus fears and quarantine is an increased rate of domestic violence allegations in Houston and across Texas. This "fear" is directed toward the complaining witness, but there is another kind of fear, too: that many persons are being falsely accused.
Remember: when you are stuck together for a period of time and can't go out, tensions can run high. Mistakes are made... on both sides. Here's an overview of what's being said about increased domestic violence and what you should keep in mind if you are accused.
Is Domestic Violence Showing a Sharp Increase During Houston's Stay at Home Orders?
According to an investigation by the Houston Chronicle, there has been a substantial increase in domestic violence allegations based on the number of hotline calls and requests for emergency housing in the wake of the social isolation brought on by coronavirus in early March of this year. The Houston Area Women's Center saw an “unusually high” number of calls during the week of April 1, 2020. The number of requests for emergency housing was close to the center's maximum capacity of 120 residents.
Law enforcement in Houston has also seen an increase in domestic violence calls. According to Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo, law enforcement has seen the rate of domestic violence calls for service increase by approximately six percent compared to this time last year.
It's important to remember, however, that if you have been accused of domestic violence, there are always two sides to the story. New media and law enforcement always tend to favor the alleged complaining witnesses (or those who portray themselves as victims) without considering (or investigating) all the facts. There may be an uptick in domestic violence calls, but that does not mean you are guilty of the same. It also does not mean you should not fight the allegations.
Do You Have Rights during a Pandemic When Accused of Domestic Violence?
You always have rights as an accused person of domestic violence.
While the threat of coronavirus has turned life upside down in many ways, it is vital to remember that your constitutional rights remain the same. You may want to take extra steps, though, to safeguard your rights during this time.
Understand what you've been accused of. You need to know what you've been accused of, what it means, and how to respond to it. Being informed is the first thing to do.
Collect evidence. The person accusing you of domestic violence has his or her own story, and the police are very willing to take down that story as if it's fact. Collect your own evidence. Tell your side of the story. If you have any bruises or anything physical or tangible evidence, make sure the police note it in their report and safeguard it to provide to your attorney. Take pictures of yourself or any broken items or anything that may be relevant at the scene.
- Hire a Board Certified criminal defense attorney in Houston. The attorney you hire can make all the difference in your case. Be selective. Be smart. Hire a Board Certified criminal defense attorney in Houston with the insight and knowledge to help you fight the charges.
If you face allegations of domestic abuse during this difficult time, you are entitled to legal counsel. An experienced Houston domestic abuse defense attorney could assist you in fighting back against these charges.