When you see that a domestic violence case has been deemed “unfounded” by the police, your first thought is probably that the person making the accusations lied. This could happen during a divorce case, for instance, when one person makes up claims to try to get full custody of the kids.
This does happen, but it’s not the only reason a case could be unfounded. Don’t assume it means lies were told.
Another common reason for this designation is simply that the authorities could not find enough evidence. They’re not saying that nothing happened, but they can’t proceed without evidence of what occurred. Standards of proof are quite high.
One related issue is when physical violence did not take place, or at least not enough of it for that type of evidence to surface. It can be hard for the authorities to know what happened when there are claims of emotional or psychological abuse. They often just have the word of one party against the other.
Furthermore, cases are sometimes marked as unfounded when the authorities think that both people abused each other. This is often called mutual abuse.
In some instances, experts also note that people will change their stories. The statement they originally gave to the police may not be the same as the one they later give in court.
Domestic violence accusations are very serious, especially when children are involved and two individuals are getting divorced. As this shows, it’s important to understand what the authorities are looking for, what the different designations mean and exactly what legal rights each party has moving forward after an accusation is made.
Source: Domestic Shelters, “Do Survivors Lie?,” accessed Sep. 06, 2017