Practical Law Blog

Credibility is always an issue.

Yesterday, I defended a man against two domestic violence charges. We won. The biggest advantage we had at trial was the credibility of the accuser. She had none.

A quick background: A couple is quickly heading for divorce. She starts irritating her husband with little things, like parking in the middle of the garage so he can’t park his car there. He in turn starts to demand half of everything, including closet space. This argument turns into an alleged crime; he accuses her of pushing him, she—in her 911 call—accuses him of hitting and kicking her.

Yet at trial, when asked if her husband hit her, she says “No.” The “kicking” isn’t even brought up. These were not her only inconsistencies. She claimed that a bruise on her leg was the direct result of his abuse; yet even the prosecution conceded that the bruise couldn’t have formed, spread, and yellowed, all within 20 minutes. She was lying; her testimony, suspicious.

Through extensive pretrial research, we found a history of dishonesty. In her first marriage, she had accused her ex-husband of almost the exact same crime, in almost the exact same language. She used this accusation to obtain a protective order against him. Curiously, when he gave her the house in the divorce, she removed the protective order. Also, within the past month, she pled guilty to shoplifting.

Domestic violence cases are often charged solely on “he-said / she-said” evidence. Here, the judge saw that my client’s accuser alleged a crime not because she was a victim, but to obtain leverage in her divorce. We won because we showed the judge her bad-faith motives.

Credibility is always an issue and in this case, was largely the only issue.

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