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.