Claiming Self-Defense in a Domestic Violence Case

man grabbing woman

False accusations of domestic violence are a fairly common occurrence. In some cases, a victim acting in self-defense is arrested and charged with a domestic violence-related offense. This often happens when a law enforcement officer sees visible injuries on the attacker who, in turn, gives a false statement denying any wrongdoing.

If you have been arrested and charged with family violence, you face a serious situation that can be challenging to overcome. However, if you acted within the legal limits and solely to protect yourself, claiming self-defense may be a viable strategy in your domestic violence case.

Raising a Self-Defense Claim

A self-defense argument can be made in a domestic violence case if a defendant:

  • Genuinely believed he or she was in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury.
  • Genuinely believed the use of force was necessary to defend themselves against the danger.
  • Used no more force than was necessary to defend themselves against that danger.

Using Force

State law allows an individual to use force against another person if he or she genuinely believes force is necessary to protect themselves from harm. If you used a reasonable amount of force against someone to stop an attack, your domestic violence attorney could argue self-defense.

Immediate Threat of Bodily Injury

Proving to the court there was an immediate threat of harm of bodily injury is typically the most challenging element of a self-defense argument. A genuine threat of danger can be difficult to prove, especially when the other party refutes this claim. Without clear, strong evidence proving the threat of harm, it can turn into a case of “he said, she said.”

Proving Self-Defense in a Domestic Violence Case

Self-defense is an “affirmative defense,” which means that it is the defendant’s burden to prove it to the judge or jury. This burden is met typically by using evidence, such as eyewitness testimony, security camera footage, and medical findings showing the defendant’s injuries were indeed defensive in nature. If the court finds that a defendant acted in self-defense, they can be excused from any criminal liability.

If you have been charged with family violence, we urge you to contact our skilled lawyers at the Law Offices of Scott Henry right away for a free consultation. We can discuss the specifics of your situation and determine if self-defense is an effective strategy in your domestic violence case.

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