Being accused of domestic violence can be highly disconcerting for anyone, but if you are a public figure, such as a professional athlete, politician, CEO, etc., being accused of domestic violence can be particularly damaging to your reputation. You will likely face negative attention from the media during the arrest and investigation process. You may even have to make difficult decisions about leaving your job or resigning from certain positions to protect your name. However, if you find yourself facing charges related to domestic violence in California, there are steps you can take to ensure that you receive fair treatment throughout the process. Let’s discuss how dealing with these charges as a public figure may look different than other people’s experience and provide strategies for navigating through it successfully.
Prioritize Your Family, Not Your Reputation
No matter how famous you are, you are a human being with a human family. Whatever has happened to prompt charges of domestic violence, it has done damage to your family–and your being a public figure may only add to that pain. That’s why, above all else, you need to address this situation as a human first and a public figure second. Prioritize your family, not your public standing. This means admitting responsibility for any wrongdoing and working towards resolving the situation in an amicable and healing way for all family members. Your family deserves understanding, respect, and the opportunity to come to terms with what happened for your relationships to move forward.
You can take steps to fix your reputation later, once your case is resolved. If you put more attention on your reputation now than on healing the fractured personal relationships resulting from these charges, you stand to lose more than just your popularity.
Do Not Fight Your Battle in Public
If you’re someone known to the public, your reputation is likely connected to your success. Your first impulse may be to defend your public reputation by sharing “your side” of the story through social media, public statements, etc., effectively bringing the battle into the public eye. Doing so is a huge mistake for two important reasons:
- First…anything you say publicly can be used by prosecutors to bolster their case against you and make you look more guilty.
- Second…defending your reputation to your public or fans usually has the opposite effect. In other words, it will likely hurt your reputation rather than help it.
For these reasons, to protect yourself, your case, your career, and your family be extremely guarded about sharing details of the matter publicly. Follow your attorney’s advice about what and what not to say, keep public statements brief and general (or nonexistent), and if you have a PR team, make sure they also follow your attorney’s guidelines.
How the Media Can Complicate Your Domestic Violence Case
When dealing with a DV charge as a public figure, the media can significantly influence your case and how the public will see it. It can also have a negative effect on the trial itself. Here are some issues to be prepared for:
- Media coverage can cause additional pain to your loved ones. The press can be unscrupulous about digging for news, and this can cause additional stress to those parties in your case and even family members who are not involved. Take whatever steps are necessary to protect them.
- Media coverage can make it more difficult for you to get a fair trial. If your case is already controversial and has been covered by the press, you could potentially face a jury that has already made up its mind about you.
- The media can complicate negotiations with prosecutors. Your attorney may be able to negotiate for reduced charges if there is no coverage of your case in the press, but it will be much more challenging if it has already been discussed publicly.
You, unfortunately, have no control over what the press says or does regarding your case, and the more “public” you are, the more likely it is that your domestic violence case will make headlines. Your best defense against this unfairness is to do whatever you can to protect your privacy and that of your family and watch what you say to the media until your case is resolved.
Repairing Your Reputation After the Case
In the wake of domestic violence allegations, repairing one’s public reputation can be a long and arduous process that requires a certain amount of wisdom and patience. Once your case is resolved and nothing further you say can negatively impact your trial…if you feel comfortable addressing the situation publicly, it’s best to express humility and ownership of any mistakes, as well as a commitment to learning from your mistakes and righting any wrongs. Even if you are ultimately exonerated, there is always something to learn from the experience, and this approach usually does more to repair a broken reputation than offering defensive responses. If done correctly, this can motivate dialogue among those who would have otherwise labeled you unlikable or untrustworthy. Finally, try not to get overwhelmed with media attention or Internet comments; these conversations likely won’t last for that long in our ever-changing public conscience.
Choosing the Right Attorney to Help You
No matter how famous you are, the court system will treat your domestic violence case like any other. Your attorney is still your best advocate, and taking these steps can help ensure you get a fair trial and protect yourself and your family from further trauma. Above all else, prioritize healing for yourself and those involved. For compassionate legal domestic violence defense in Los Angeles, call our offices today.