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Defending Against Domestic Abuse Allegations Made by an Immigrant Spouse

Posted on in Domestic Violence

San Jose criminal defense attorneySome marriages may include one spouse who is a U.S. citizen while the other spouse is an immigrant. In some cases, the foreign national may only use the marriage as a means to enter the United States. Unfortunately, this fraudulent union can be a scam, intended to be a way of obtaining a green card and lawful permanent residence status. The foreign spouse may falsely accuse his or her new spouse of domestic abuse, which can lead to a divorce and serious consequences for the alleged abuser. It is important to note that an immigrant who entered the United States on a marriage-based visa can request special status, which would allow him or her to stay in the country even after a divorce or separation. This can be reason enough for him or her to make false claims of abuse in order to get a divorce. 

California Penalties for Domestic Abuse 

Under the California Penal Code, there are several different types of domestic violence. Abuse can be against an intimate partner, or a family or household member. The crimes are categorized differently, depending on the severity of the incident. Below are some of the punishments that can result from such criminal offenses:

  • Corporal injury: This crime can be a slight physical injury to a person and is a felony. The penalty can include up to one year in county jail and up to four years in state prison. 
  • Domestic battery: Inflicting force or violence on an intimate partner is domestic battery. This offense is classified as a misdemeanor. Punishment can include a fine up to $2,000, and/or up to one year in county jail. 
  • Stalking: Harassing or threatening another person to make him or her fear for his or her safety is considered stalking in California. This charge can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. Misdemeanor stalking can result in up to one year in prison while a felony charge can result in three years of incarceration. 

False Accusations

Even if your foreign-born spouse is not a U.S. citizen, he or she is still entitled to certain rights. Some of these rights are similar to what a citizen would have, such as the right to a divorce, temporary restraining order, financial support, and child custody. An alleged victim can petition for legal status under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), apply to cancel deportation proceedings under VAWA, and petition for U-nonimmigrant status.

Being wrongfully accused of domestic violence due to immigration reasons can have life-altering consequences. For example, you could be prohibited from seeing your children or you could be fired from your job. That is why it is imperative you seek legal counsel to build an aggressive defense on your behalf. Some of the ways to defend against charges of abuse include proving the following:

  • Your accuser has a history of mental or emotional problems. 
  • Your accuser sent messages to friends or family members stating the marriage was a sham.
  • The alleged abusive incident did not include a physical altercation or a threat that would make a reasonable person fear violence or harm.
  • You acted in self-defense or to protect a third party.
  • Your accuser’s injuries are self-inflicted.

Contact a Santa Clara County Criminal Defense Attorney

Defending against false domestic abuse charges can be difficult, especially in cases where one spouse is in immigrant. False accusations are made for various reasons, such as a reason for divorce. They can result in a criminal record and negatively impact your career and family life. You need the experience of a knowledgeable San Francisco domestic violence lawyer on your side who can thoroughly investigate the validity of the abuse claims. Call the Law Offices of Erik Steven Johnson today at 408-246-3004 to schedule your free consultation. 



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