How Does Substance Abuse Or Addiction Impact A Domestic Violence Case?

Substance abuse and addiction to illicit drugs can significantly affect your behavior, resulting in paranoia, anger, aggressive tendencies, hallucinations, drug-induced psychosis, and psychotic episodes. Similarly, abusing controlled substances can impact both your short and long-term memory. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that substance abuse and mental health problems can go hand in hand. Nearly 18 million adults in the United States suffer from mental health conditions that co-occur with a substance abuse disorder. If you abuse substances, you are at increased risk of developing mental health issues and psychotic disorders.

As a result of the extensive complications and problems that arise from substance abuse, domestic violence charges that involve an individual with a history of substance abuse and addiction can be complex. It is possible that a victim does not accurately remember the alleged offense, that the events did not occur as they think they did, or that they have more calculated reasons for making false allegations, such as discrediting you. 

There is a complicated relationship between domestic violence and substance abuse, and cases involving both elements can be challenging to navigate. To successfully defend yourself in such a complex case, you will need skilled legal counsel in your corner. Although an individual’s history with controlled substances can call their credibility into question, you will still need fierce legal counsel to highlight this to the court and use this to benefit your defense. 

The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Cannon & Associates have secured successful outcomes in countless domestic violence and substance abuse cases in Oklahoma. Our fierce attorneys are here to fight for your rights and protect your freedom. 

Contact our team today at 405-591-3935 to book a free consultation and begin your domestic violence defense. 

Oklahoma Domestic Violence Laws

The state of Oklahoma takes intimate partner violence very seriously. Domestic violence or domestic abuse criminal charges can apply to sexual abuse, physical violence, intimidation and harassment, emotional abuse, and financial abuse. 

Under Oklahoma Law, an individual commits an act of domestic violence if they threaten, attempt, or cause physical harm to a family member, intimate partner, or member of their household. In general, a threat alone is not sufficient to secure a charge of domestic violence. However, if the threat is accompanied by an attempt to cause harm, or if your actions give the victim reasonable cause to believe they will be hurt, this could result in a criminal charge. 

Domestic Violence Criminal Penalties

A domestic violence conviction is a serious offense in Oklahoma. Even a first-time offense carries the possibility of jail time, with more severe offenses carrying lengthy prison terms and hefty fines. The penalties you receive are likely to increase in severity if the offense is committed in front of a minor or against a pregnant woman. 

In addition to time behind bars, if you are convicted of domestic violence, you could lose custody of your children and your rights to carry a firearm and vote. Furthermore, if convicted of domestic violence in Oklahoma, likely, you will also be required to complete a domestic violence treatment program as ordered by the court.

First Offense

A first domestic violence offense that does not include any aggravating factors is usually a misdemeanor charge in Oklahoma. If convicted, this offense carries potential penalties of up to one year in jail or probation and a fine of up to $5,000. 

Second Offense

A second conviction for domestic abuse in Oklahoma is a felony charge. In addition to becoming a convicted felon and the implications this will have on your life, you will also face up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine. 

Domestic Violence Involving Strangulation

If you are facing charges of domestic violence involving strangulation, this is a serious offense that carries severe penalties if convicted. 

Committing domestic violence by strangulation or attempted strangulation with intent to cause great bodily harm is a felony. A first offense carries a prison sentence of one to three years behind bars and a fine of up to $3,000. A following offense is punishable by three to twenty years in prison and a $20,000 fine. 

Domestic Violence Involving A Dangerous Weapon

A domestic violence offense involving a dangerous weapon is a felony. An individual could face these charges if they have been accused of using a weapon in a way that threatens, attempts to, or causes actual physical harm to the victim. 

In this context, a dangerous weapon includes obvious weapons, such as a firearm or a knife, but can also include a heavy object, baseball bat, or steel toe-capped boots, for example. Any object that could be used in a manner that will cause serious harm could be considered a dangerous weapon and result in a felony charge. 

Individuals convicted of domestic violence with a dangerous weapon face up to one year or up to ten years in prison, depending on the nature of the incident. 

How Could Substance Abuse Impact A Domestic Violence Case?

When a domestic violence case involves alcohol or substance abuse, this can call into question the legitimacy of the victims, witnesses, and the allegations of your actions. It is more likely that when drugs and alcohol are involved, the accounts of the incident may have been exaggerated or entirely fabricated. A history of substance abuse and addiction could also lead to additional motives to discredit the alleged offender that would not apply to situations that don’t involve drug or alcohol abuse.

Victim Credibility

If an alleged victim abuses controlled substances and has a problem with addiction, this can affect their credibility in the courtroom. For instance, if they were under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident, their memory may not be reliable enough to base a criminal conviction. Similarly, in addition to having a poor recollection of events, some substances may mean that the victim imagines situations and hallucinates events that didn’t occur. An alleged victim may also not remember their own behavior and how this contributed to the incident. 

Regardless of how the specifics of substance abuse may affect a victim’s memory, it is likely that this history will call their credibility into question in a criminal court. 

In addition, a long history of substance abuse and addiction has the potential to impact an individual’s mental health. Mental disorders can also affect how reliable a complaining witness’ statement may be. 

Witness Credibility

Similar to how substance abuse and addiction can impact an alleged victim’s credibility in a domestic violence case, this can also apply to any key witnesses. If a witness that the prosecution is using in your case abuses illicit drugs, their account of events may not be reliable. 

Questioning a victim’s credibility based on their history with controlled substances could be beneficial for your case, particularly if they are a key witness who claims that they saw the offense occur. In many domestic violence cases, there are no witnesses, and the case depends upon the victim’s words against the offender’s. If your attorney can dispute the credibility of the prosecution’s main witness, their case against you may weaken substantially and could even be dropped. 

Consistency Of Statements

Consistent statements are crucial for any criminal prosecution case to stand up in court. A statement is a victim or witness’s opportunity to recount exactly how an incident occurred and the behavior of the alleged offender. Generally, it is believed that if an individual is telling the truth, their statement will not substantially change, as they are not fabricating parts of their account and don’t need to remember their false allegations. If a victim or witness gives conflicting or inconsistent statements, this can cast doubt upon their account of events and significantly hinder the prosecution’s case. 

In domestic violence cases involving substance abuse, inconsistent statements are commonplace. With a reputable domestic abuse defense attorney, these inconsistencies can be highlighted and used to weaken the prosecution’s case against you. An experienced attorney becomes highly skilled at spotting even minor inconsistencies and further investigating them to capitalize on these errors to benefit your defense. 

Self Defense

An alleged offender may not have committed a domestic violence crime if they were acting in self-defense or the defense of another person in their household, such as a child. If the alleged victim has a history of substance abuse and was taking drugs at the time of the incident, it is possible that they were behaving aggressively or dangerously towards you or a family member. If your actions were committed in an attempt to protect yourself or a loved one, this could be a potential defense against criminal charges. 

Motivation To Make False Accusations

If the alleged domestic violence victim has an active drug or alcohol addiction, this could influence their motivation to make accusations of domestic abuse. For example, in some divorces, a history of domestic violence in the relationship may be taken into consideration when a Judge divides marital property and assigns child custody and spousal support.

A spouse with a substance abuse problem may be motivated to discredit the other spouse through allegations of domestic violence to increase their chances of maintaining child custody. This is particularly relevant for parents who use illicit drugs as this could be used as a deciding factor when a Judge allocates custody of the couple’s children.

In addition, a history of alleged domestic abuse could prove financially beneficial for the victim of violent behavior in a divorce. A Judge will not use property division or spousal support payments as a punishment for an allegedly violent spouse. However, if the victim claims that the domestic abuse impacted their financial situation and ability to earn an income, this could influence the final divorce settlement.

As such, an individual with a history of substance abuse and addiction can have substantial motivation to fabricate allegations against you if it can lead to financial gain or impact custody of your children. Highlighting these motivations to the court could be hugely beneficial to support your claims that the alleged victim is lying about the incident that led to your charges. 

Do Domestic Violence ‘Victims’ Ever Retract Their Accusations?

You may be surprised to know that we see a substantial amount of cases that include the alleged victim retracting their claims that they have been a victim of domestic abuse. Often, these individuals claim that their account of events has been blown out of proportion or taken out of context by law enforcement. 

Retracted statements are particularly common in situations where the alleged victim was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident. ‘Victims’ who abuse alcohol or drugs are far more likely to fabricate allegations or exaggerate their situation when intoxicated and often fuelled by the heat of an argument. 

Often, when the individual is sober and understands the magnitude of their false allegations, they want to change their statement and have the charges dropped. As the individual charged with domestic violence, this may be a relief. However, a formal process will still need to be completed for the ‘victim’ to retract their false allegations and ensure that your charges do not proceed any further. 

How Can An Alleged Victim Change Their Statement?

We work with many cases where an alleged victim changes their mind about their statement once they have sobered up or calmed down after the heat of the moment. Often, allegations arise or are exaggerated when a couple argues, specifically if either party is intoxicated. In these situations, Cannon & Associates attorneys can work with our client and the alleged victim to develop a sworn affidavit to formally change their statement. 

An affidavit is essential to allow the individual to officially change their previous statement in the eyes of the law. This also gives the alleged victim or witness an opportunity to re-tell their account of events, beyond what was recorded in their initial statement, to law enforcement and correct any mistakes. Once the sworn affidavit is signed and notarized, we will present this to the prosecution. 

Usually, this new turn of events in a case can change how the prosecution moves forward. If an alleged victim has retracted their initial allegations of domestic violence, most prosecutors will re-evaluate the case, which often leads to a dismissal. 

If your case is dismissed, you will no longer face the risk of a criminal conviction. However, an arrest for domestic violence will remain on your record even without a conviction. Cannon & Associates can also work with you to have this arrest record expunged from your criminal history to avoid any implications it could have on your future. 

How A Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Can Help

Having an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner can make a significant difference to your case and the final outcome. Especially if the complaining witness struggles with addiction and you are facing false or exaggerated accusations. 

An attorney can collect evidence to prove the other party’s substance use disorder. Evidence could include substance abuse treatment records, photographs, drug paraphernalia, and witness statements. Your lawyer may also draw upon expert testimony from individuals, such as a mental health professional if the alleged victim or a witness’s credibility is questionable. 

If the alleged victim changes their mind or retracts their allegations during your case, an attorney can issue affidavits that allow them to formally change their statement. This will then be used as evidence to support your defense with the aim of having your case dropped.

If the alleged victim does not retract their allegations, you will need a skilled attorney to fight your charges and prove that you are the victim of false accusations. Proving the other party’s history of substance abuse, alongside any motive they may have to fabricate the offense, will be crucial to an effective defense strategy. 

Book Your Free Consultation With Cannon & Associates As Soon As Possible!

The implications of domestic violence crimes are huge. Not only are you facing time behind bars, but likely, your life will never be the same with the burden of a violent conviction on your record. 

If an alleged victim or witness in your case has abused controlled substances or was under the influence at the time of the offense, this could work in your favor. It may be possible to raise reasonable doubt around the motives, reliability, and accuracy of a victim or witness and their account of the incident. However, you will need an experienced attorney to do this effectively and secure the best possible outcome in your case. 

The criminal defense attorneys at Cannon & Associates have worked on hundreds of cases involving domestic violence and substance abuse. We have seen almost every underhand motivation an individual could use to make false allegations. We have also highlighted the other party’s questionable character to the court and successfully defended many clients to secure their freedom. 

Do not think the other party’s history of substance abuse alone will be enough to beat your charges. This will need to be included in a more complex and compelling defense strategy to give you the best chance of a successful outcome from your case. The experienced domestic violence defense attorneys at Cannon & Associates are here to help. Contact our team today at 405-591-3935 to book your free consultation.

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