Is a Judge Required to Accept an Uncontested Allegation of Domestic Violence at Face Value?
A domestic violence is not something you can simply ignore. If your spouse, partner, or another family member asks a judge to issue an order of protection against you due to domestic violence, you must be prepared to show up in court and defend yourself. Doing nothing may lead the court to take the accuser at their word and grant the injunction, even in your absence.
Appeals Court: Trial Judge Erred in Not Granting Wife’s “Uncontroverted” Testimony Against Husband
Indeed, the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal recently held a trial judge erred by not issuing an order of protection when faced with “unrebutted evidence” alleging domestic violence.
This particular case, Taylor v. Price, involved a husband and wife. The wife asked a judge in Broward County for an order of protection against the husband. At a hearing before the judge, the wife testified the husband “tried to physically force himself on her and that the husband scratched her breast,” leaving a “significant wound that took days to heal.”
The judge said he “was taking the wife at her word.” However, the judge declined to review photographic evidence of the wound. And the court ultimately concluded the wife did not meet her burden of proof to justify an injunction.
The husband apparently did not participate in either the hearing or the wife’s subsequent appeal to the Fourth District. The appeals court further noted the trial judge failed to make any formal findings of fact before denying the wife’s petition for an injunction. This, the Fourth District said, was grounds for reversing the judge’s decision.
As the appeals court explained, the wife’s evidence–i.e., her testimony about the alleged acts of domestic violence–was “uncontroverted” at the hearing. Since the judge did not make any findings of fact the wife’s testimony lacked credible in any way, the court was required to accept this evidence and “grant the petition for injunction.”
Speak with a Miami Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Today
In criminal proceedings, we often advise our clients to exercise their Fifth Amendment rights and say nothing to the police, or even testify at their own trial. But a petition for a domestic violence injunction is a civil matter. Remaining silent here, as the husband in this case seems to have done, can be used against you when it comes to rebutting an accuser’s evidence. And, as this case illustrates, when you offer no defense at all the law pretty much requires the court to accept the accuser’s unrebutted testimony at face value.
This is why it is so important to work with a qualified Miami domestic violence defense attorney. While a petition for a protective order may not seem like a big deal, keep in mind that any public allegation of domestic violence can lead to criminal charges down the line. So it is best to get in front of any accusations. Contact the Law Office of Julia Kefalinos at 305.676.9545 today if you need immediate legal advice or assistance.