Think this can't happen in America? “Innocent until proven guilty” was the bedrock principle of American justice, until recently. The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 was signed into law in January 2006 to reauthorize the VAWA legislation originally passed in 1994. Since VAWA first became law, more than 660 state laws regarding domestic violence have been passed, and VAWA 2005 has had an even more pervasive effect on the rights of an accused man. All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow women to apply for Ex Parte orders of protection (Temporary Restraining Orders), which are almost always granted and most often extended or made permanent at subsequent hearings. Innocent Americans are being penalized based on false accusations which require no proof. Over one million men are arrested each year due to unproven allegations of domestic violence. The standard of evidence is extremely lax. All a woman has to do is state that she is "afraid", and the Clerk of the Court will file the TRO. After a judge rubberstamps the order, the man will be served. An order of protection: 1. Prohibits the accused from contacting his accuser directly or indirectly in any manner; 2. Forces the accused to move from a residence shared with the accuser even if the residence is the property of the accused; 3. Orders the accused to stay at least 100 yards away from the accuser, her place of residence, and place of employment; 4. Orders the accused to attend counseling; and 5. Compels the accused to immediately surrender any firearms or ammunition he owns to the police. All of these actions take place immediately upon service of the order without the accused being given an opportunty to defend himself. These concerns are heightened in specialized domestic violence courts. Now, procedures have been devised to save complainants who might be in imminent danger, at the expense of defendants who could have been falsely accused. Referring to his experience in a domestic violence court, one New York attorney commented, “My client is guilty the minute he walks in the door.” Millions of restraining orders are issued each year, often without any allegation of physical violence by the complainant, who is usually identified as the "victim" in court documents. As a result, accused men (who are normally identified as "abusers" in the court's documents - even though they have been convisted of no crime) summarily lose access to their children, home, and financial assets with devastating consequences. Other attorneys have noticed these tendencies to refer to complainants as "victims," and accused men as "abusers" prior to any ajudication. As an alternative to using the criminal courts, some jurisdictions have created programs that issue restraining orders issued following bench trials in family courts. This practice of depriving a defendant of a jury trial and the other protections typically afforded a criminal defendant short-circuits due process. From the perspective of job security, a judge has much to lose and little to gain by ruling in favor of an accused man. If he rules against the defendant, and the defendant is really innocent, so what? The defendant’s life might be ruined for something he did not do, but who cares? There will be no headlines, no angry feminst activists protesting on the courthouse steps. One article in the William and Mary Law Review highlights the fact that “evidentiary standards for proving abuse have been so relaxed that any man who stands accused is considered guilty.” Unconvicted men's lives are being irreparably damaged by unproven (and often false) allegations, and billions of taxpayer dollars are wasted.