Don’t let yourself get framed for domestic violence.

Show and Tell: Presenting Evidence in Court. By Diana Knowles Dunop Copyright 2013


NOTE: The following scenario is fictional. Any resemblance of the characters in this scenario to any real persons, living or dead, is unintentional and entirely accidental.

Consider this:

One night, you and your spouse have a heated verbal argument inside your house. At one point in the argument your spouse says, “I’m not staying here if you’re going to talk to me like that. I’m going to go spend the night with a friend.” Your spouse opens the front door, runs out onto the front porch, and falls down the front steps. The fall causes your spouse to get a broken nose and a deep cut over one eye. You come out of the house, stand on the porch, look down at your spouse, who is still lying on the ground, and you shout, “That serves you right for walking out on me!”

“Hey, what’s going on?” you hear your next door neighbor ask. Your neighbor is standing on his front porch. You don’t know what he saw. Your spouse tells the neighbor that you hit him/her in the face and knocked him/her down the steps. Your spouse tells the neighbor, “I’m hurt. This is domestic violence. Call the cops.” Your neighbor rushes inside and calls 911. When the police arrive, they take statements from you, your spouse, and the neighbor.

The police say that they can’t determine who is telling the truth. The police decide that you can stay in the house for the night, and they tell your spouse to go spend the night elsewhere. The police state that this will give you and your spouse time to cool off. The next day, your spouse (who has apparently not cooled off) files for an injunction for protection against domestic violence. You get served with the petition for the injunction; and in it, your spouse states that you punched him/her in the face so hard that you broke his/her nose and knocked him/her down the front steps causing a deep cut over one eye and other injuries. You have to attend a hearing on the injunction.

The day before the injunction hearing, you talk to your neighbor and asked him what he witnessed concerning the incident. He tells you that he didn’t actually see you hit your spouse and that he did not actually see your spouse fall down the steps. He tells you that when he came outside, he saw you standing on the steps and saying something like, “That serves you right.” He says that he told the police that you hit your spouse and knocked him/her down the steps because that is what he thought had happened. He says he is really sorry for getting you into trouble by what he said to the police and that he will try to show up for the injunction hearing and tell the judge that he didn’t really see what happened.

At the injunction hearing, your neighbor fails to show, but the police officer who wrote the police report is present. Your spouse lies and tells the judge that you hit him/her in the face, knocked him/her off the front porch, and caused your spouse to have a broken nose and other injuries. You tell the judge the truth about what happened, but it is basically a “he-said, she-said” situation as to who is telling the truth. Your spouse has brought to court a copy of the police report from the night of the incident. The police officer testifies that the copy of the police report shown to him by your spouse is the report about the incident. The officer agrees that he wrote in the report that your next door neighbor said that he witnessed the incident and that what happened was that you hit your spouse in the face and caused your spouse to fall off the porch. Your spouse offers the police report into evidence to prove, through the statements made to the police by your neighbor, that you hit your spouse in the face and knock him/her off the porch.

What should your objection be in regard to admitting the police report?

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