Interviewer: Have you worked with cases where there was substantial evidence that the accuser was just fabricating the allegations?
Gary Churak: That happens usually when there’s a custody case or a divorce going on. That always adds to the credibility factor of the complaining witness. If there are no injuries and if the allegation was made 3 or 4 or 5 days, a week after the alleged incident, these are all factors that they look at.
Interviewer: What would be the penalty for someone that put their spouse or former spouse into a situation where they’re jeopardizing their lives and it turns out that person’s completely innocent?
Gary Churak: Nothing.
Interviewer: Going back to the no-contact order, what about social media such as Facebook? Is that still considered contact?
Gary Churak: Yes, that is contact.
Interviewer: Have you seen any of that happen?
Gary Churak: Not as much but it happens on occasion.
Interviewer: Yes, it’ll start to happen more frequently, I think. Let’s say someone is accused and they go to you. What are some things that will help with their case?
Gary Churak: Hire a lawyer as soon as possible. That’s all you can tell them and the best advice to dispense at this point in time.
Interviewer: What about counseling or anger management?
Gary Churak: It can be helpful to show that you’re willing to work it out and if you do anger management and maybe some parenting classes, the spouse may say, “Okay I’ll drop the case.” Sometimes if it’s a weak case the DA will drop it based upon taking some anger management or parenting classes. A lot depends on the case. Each case is different. There’s no set rule.
Interviewer: What kind of programs will be imposed on someone during a probation period? Will they be put in those kind of like counseling or anger management classes?
Gary Churak: Yes, they’ll be required to take anger-management classes. They’ll be required to take a numberof classes as part of their probation and pay for it to the tune of sometimes $50 plus the class, so it can run into a cost of thousands of dollars.
Interviewer: How long will they be expected to take those classes?
Gary Churak: Their term of probation or until they complete the program, depending on how many classes are involved in the program.
Interviewer: How are these cases handled when it involves immediate family like a mother and a son?
Gary Churak: The same way if it’s a girlfriend/boyfriend, husband and wife; it’s a family member. The definition extends all the way to the cousins, basically, in terms of what the family relationship is. You could have a family violence case on Thanksgiving Day, a family argument breaks out and the husband and wife’s cousin get into an argument and get into a fight, and its family violence.
Interviewer: I imagine that is likely to occur especially if there’s alcohol involved?
Gary Churak: Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn’t—but a lot of times alcohol is involved.
Interviewer: How is this handled with minors? For example, if there were 2 brothers and they’re under the age of 18?
Gary Churak: Actually a minor in Texas is under the age of 17. Most of the time, if the parties are under age 17 they’ll refer to juvenile court. In family violence cases, if it’s an assault case it’ll be referred to juvenile court unless there’s serious bodily injury then it could be either certified as an adult.