Restraining Orders Based on Fraud Falsely Imprison Defendants Whether They’re Incarcerated or Not

Posted on June 25, 2014


“Forensic psychiatrists and other mental health professionals must remember that although allegations are often genuine, there is an almost equal number of cases…in which they are not. Complete and objective assessment is always required, and especially so when accusations emerge in contexts such as the following:

  • Certain kinds of mental illness and character traits (particularly in allegations against clinicians). One should note poor doctor-patient relationships, whether real or perceived, patients with psychotic or delusional symptoms, certain hysterical and factitious disorders, some fragmenting or dissociative disorders, and those with substantial borderline, inadequate, and/or passive personality traits
  • Divorce proceedings
  • Child custody proceedings
  • Situations with the potential for substantial financial reward
  • Situations in which the accuser has an emotional or characterological reason to avoid discovery, prosecution, or confrontation with legal (or parental) authority (e.g., those with antisocial personality traits, some substance abusers)
  • A history of repeated past allegations, particularly if they have not been fully investigated
  • Unusual timing of the accusation or alleged event (e.g., alleged ‘date rape’ within an otherwise close and stable relationship, or accusations made only when some sort of secondary purpose or reward is evident).”

—“False Allegations: The Role of the Forensic Psychiatrist

The previous post called attention to an excerpt from a story featured in The Times of Malta this month that concluded that incidences of false allegations weren’t “one-offs,” meaning they’re not singular occurrences but more common than the public imagines.

The lawyers quoted by reporter, what’s more, refer to criminal cases in which sexual abuse is alleged and, consequently, in which the accused are afforded attorney representation.

By contrast, civil restraining order hearings are mere minutes long, defendants aren’t afforded counsel, and fraud is typically ignored by the court even if it’s perceived. There is, therefore, no accurately determining the pervasiveness or degree of lying in such adjudications.

Many authoritative sources conclude it’s rampant, and anecdotal reports concur.

The application process for restraining orders is typically free, it’s concluded in an afternoon if not within minutes, and there are no consequences for lying. Why, then, shouldn’t the process be broadly and routinely abused?

To believe that such a process wouldn’t be abused would depend on an unshakably naïve conviction in the inherent goodness of people, and such a belief would determine the process unnecessary. Anyone who believes people are capable of beastly behavior and that restraining orders are necessary—take, for example, feminists—must believe people are capable of lying hurtfully to get them.

Exposing the flaws in the belief that anyone who points a finger must necessarily be telling the truth doesn’t take a professor of philosophy.

Consider, then, that allegations made in civil court may be identical to those introduced against defendants in criminal court—and can include rape, child molestation, or even murder. The only difference between civil and criminal rulings is legal consequence.

This is the source of the cognitive disconnect exemplified by judges and, largely, everyone else. Because civil restraining orders only threaten incarceration rather than mandate it, they’re considered “no biggie.”

The conceit is that though falsely accused restraining order defendants may be denied access to their homes, money, property, and children—besides facing other privations—they aren’t denied their freedom; it’s only curtailed somewhat (“Here are your shoes—you’re free to leave”).

Faith in the conceit that restraining orders are minor impingements on defendants’ lives depends on accepting that being falsely, publically, and permanently labeled a stalker or batterer, for example, shouldn’t interfere with a person’s comfort, equanimity, or ability to realize his or her dreams. Such faith is founded, in other words, on the fantastical belief that wrongful vilification won’t exercise a detrimental influence on a person’s mental state, won’t affect his or her familial and social relationships, won’t negatively impact his or her employment and employability, etc.

Clearly such faith is beyond unreasonable; it’s inane. Being forced to live with false allegations can be crippling—for painfully obvious reasons. Whether a person is forced to agonize in a cell or is permitted to agonize in his or her place of choice is of scant significance to the psycho-emotional well-being of the sufferer. Prison isn’t just an environment, and arresting someone doesn’t require handcuffs.

Copyright © 2014